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How to stay motivated to exercise

Why motivation isn’t everything and what else you actually need Wouldn’t it be lovely if we all felt inspired or motivated all the time, if we always “felt like getting the thing done”? That certainly would be nice but it is absolutely unrealistic and unattainable. And striving for unbroken motivation will only lead to disappointment. That is all well and good, but what about getting exercise in during the winter months whilst still juggling everything else? How do we do it? Well, by creating something far more powerful than motivation – habit.

Here are some things you might be saying to yourself when you think about exercise:I want to be fitter. I could do with shedding a few pounds. I have eaten too much, I should work out. All of those thoughts come from a place of lack, fueled by something you don’t have and driven by not being enough or even feeling the need to earn what you already deserve or punishing yourself. Instead, maybe try adding a few more of those thoughts in: I have this amazingly capable body and I want to do something good for it. I really want to build on my current fitness level. My body deserves fuel and movement and I want to provide it. This is more the angle of what you already have and why exercising is actually the kinder choice. The reward comes from making these good choices and from working with your body and your desires, not against them. That said, note that there is nothing wrong with goal setting, specific fitness aims or pushing yourself every now and again – as long as the headspace remains one of kindness and of being enough.

Know your why There will be times where you will question why you are subjecting yourself to the effort of building an exercise habit. Perfectly valid and very individual question. So make sure you have your perfectly valid and individual answer to hand for when that happens. Why ARE you doing this? Figure out your personal WHY when you embark on this journey, write it down somewhere if you want to and be as specific as you can be. And remember, make it come from a place of love, not lack.

Remove obstacles When you have your why make sure you have everything in place to be able to easily access everything you need to form your exercise habit. Remove all the obstacles that are keeping you from doing it. These can be logistics such as not having your gym wear ready on the days when you need it or the times where you are planning to exercise are totally clashing with other commitments. But obstacles can also be emotional. Again, we want to work with our grain, not against it. Be really observant in the beginning, what do you FEEL when you hit a roadblock? Feel too exposed in the neon light of your gym? You love running outside but it is too cold in the winter? There are a gazillion things that can feel just not right when exercising but there are also a gazillion ways around these things. But we need to identify our personal hurdles.

Solidify the patterns And lastly, give your brain the chance to solidify these new patterns. After all, you are asking a lot of it. When forming a new habit the literal structure of our brain changes. Not an easy task to perform! So help it along its way. Associate all the good brain chemicals with your new routine: Make habit trackers where you get to cross off every day you’ve exercised, make a list in your head why you are grateful for the exercises you are able to do, review your progress, be proud of yourself.

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