Sometimes you’ve had a long day at work or with the kids and you definitely don’t feel like going to the gym by the time evening rolls around. Even if your job isn’t physically demanding, mental exhaustion alone can be so draining it leaves you like a rag doll flopping around from the couch to the sofa.
However, that nagging little voice in your head knows you should be getting your workout done. After all, you want to change your body, stay healthy, lean down, be stronger, or whatever your goal is. But you’re faced with a conflict between what you should be doing (exercising) and what you want to be doing (putting up your feet and binge-watching Netflix.)
How do you solve this riddle?
Well, you begin by first of all questioning why, in your mind, exercising and relaxing are opposites and incompatible with one another.
When athletes and avid gym-goers say that exercising helps calm them down and unwind after a tough day, they’re not just speaking like zombie cult members who drank the Kool-Aid. Research actually backs them up. This effect, of course, is hardly noticeable after one or two gym sessions. But if you stick with it long enough, your body will start yearning for that surge of endorphins, and you will begin to understand what the fuss is all about.
Take a quiet moment with yourself and discover how you truly think about exercising. What words come to your mind?
Is it an obligation, a chore, boring, a must-do, a drag, awkward, a necessary evil? Then no wonder it sucks the life outta you.
But if working out is energizing, a joy, a privilege, an opportunity for achievement and success, part of your ritual for health, part of what keeps you grounded and sane, would you ever want to skip a day? Probably not.
Action begets action
And inaction begets inaction. That’s why most people feel it’s so terribly hard to get back at the gym after a few weeks off. That’s why after a long day of sitting at an office job, the last thing you want to do is move. But you must consciously break that chain. I like to think of this principle as an extension of Newton’s Laws of Motion. Newton stated that “An object that is at rest will stay at rest unless an external force acts upon it.” That’s right! If you don’t move, well, you will continue to not move. The external force to give you a jolting start may come in the shape of a workout buddy who drags your ass to the gym, or it can come in the form of your own inner awareness knowing that you’re fighting through a hump right now, but you’ll cross it over and feel better after.
You can trust the time will come when this fight is close to non-existent, because as Sir Newton pointed out, “An object that is in motion will not change its velocity unless an external force acts upon it.” This means that once you get truckin’ and you’ve found your groove day after day, the inertia of your habit will continue to carry you. There will be less resistance, because working out after a long day is now just part of your normal life.
Now you know the importance of having a positive frame of mind towards all things exercise. But how do you accomplish that, exactly? Glad you asked!
Listen, I don’t care if you think this sounds like woo-woo new agey bullshit. This shit works for Olympic athletes, has won gold medals, has been credited for speeding up miraculous recoveries after tragic accidents and even making the difference between living and dying in emergency situations. You and I are not above this technique, so let’s get off the logics soapbox already and just give this a try because it may very well change your darn life.
Every night as you’re dozing off to sleep take the time to clearly see yourself in your mind: it’s the following day, you just finished work, you feel happy and energized because you get to go exercise now. Be very clear and detailed. What are you wearing? What song are you singing along to? What does your car smell like? Feel the tranquility and contentment in you because you get to go and do something amazing for your body. Focus on how incredibly energetic and invigorated you feel!– this more than anything, since it’s what has been holding you back from going to the gym lately. Visualize your entire drive to the gym, your arrival, saying hi to staff members or friends, anything you do when you go to the gym… but see it clearly in your head feeling that sense of high energy you so much desire. Do this every single night for two weeks and watch the magic unfold.
Hands on, baby
As if this wasn’t enough, here are some additional techniques to help you kick lethargy to the curve.
1) Play with your schedule.
You may be firmly and adamantly not a morning person… and that’s ok. But maybe you just haven’t given an early morning workout a fair chance, in which case I invite you to do so. If your schedule and other obligations permit, give yourself four weeks in which you’ll go to the gym before your work day. Who knows, you may find that this helps you begin your day full of energy and that you love it. Or not. But you’ll only know until you give it a fair try. And if that doesn’t work out…
2) Set up for your success.
You have to eradicate obstacles before they arise. Leave everything ready the night before: your workout clothes, your ipod and ear buds, your water bottle, wallet, and towel. Leave a snack ready in the fridge, maybe the fruits to be blended into a smoothie. Make sure the car has gas. Set up an alarm. Basically anything that could pop up and give you an excuse to backtrack on your plan (Ah, my favorite shirt is in the wash… guess I can’t go today!) needs to be sorted out beforehand. Having no excuses sets you up for success.
3) Make sure you’re having fun.
Do you have a workout program you absolutely love? Or are you stuck doing three hours on the elliptical? This is a pivotal issue I come across with people who can’t understand why they hate the gym… but how is that any surprise, if they hate their program? Even worse if there isn’t a program to follow! Then you feel scattered because you’re doing whatever and seeing no results. You need a solid program to follow with consistency, and luckily they abound in the internet. Find one you’re excited about.
What about your music? Do you have a playlist that songs that set your heart on fire? Music can play a huge roll on performance and motivation! It’s worth paying attention to and using to your benefit. While we’re at it, also think about your gym clothes… do you like them at all, or do they consist of ratty shorts and a concert t-shirt from 1987? I know it sounds superficial and silly, but it does make an impact. It may very well be worth it to invest the time in finding a top and bottom you feel comfortable in. You don’t have to break the bank, either. I like doing my share of second-hand shopping with great results!
Because I can’t say this enough. Do it. See yourself being happy and full of energy on your way to the gym. Do it every night and you will see things change almost instantly.
Change your mind and you will change your life.