Consider these factors that motivate people to begin and stick with their exercise program. Then identify which ones motivate you.
- Pleasure. People often really enjoy strength-training exercises; they find them less taxing than aerobic workouts and love the results.
- Health and fitness benefits. Strength training increases muscle mass and bone density. It makes you feel strong and energized, alleviates stress and depression, and gives you a better night’s sleep. And it can help prevent the onset of certain chronic diseases or ease their symptoms.
- Improvements in appearance. Lifting weights firms the body, trims fat, and can boost metabolism by as much as 15%, which helps with weight control.
- Social opportunities. Exercising with friends or family gives you a chance to visit and chat while you work out.
- Thrills. People who start strength training later in life often find that they are willing and able to try new, exciting activities, such as parasailing, windsurfing, or kayaking.
Celebrate Your Achievements
Making any major lifestyle change can be trying. A great way to motivate yourself to keep with the program is to properly celebrate your achievements. This may be as important as setting goals and visualizing success. When you accomplish one of your short-term or long-term goals, make sure that you reward yourself well!
- Buy yourself new workout clothes or shoes.
- Make plans with good friends to see a movie or go hiking.
- Go on a weekend getaway.
- Treat yourself to a new piece of exercise equipment.
- Plan a dinner at your favorite restaurant.
- Get tickets to your favorite theater production or athletic event.
- Pamper yourself with a massage, manicure, or pedicure.
- Enroll in a class, such as ballroom dancing, yoga, or pottery making.
Visualizing You Goals
Believing in yourself—believing that you can leap barriers and achieve your goals—is the ticket to success. One of the most powerful tools for building self-confidence is visualization. This easy technique involves imagining the accomplishment of the changes or goals you’re working to achieve. It is a process of “training” purely within the mind. By visualizing in detail your successful execution of each step in a given activity, you create, modify, or strengthen brain pathways that are important in coordinating your muscles for the visualized activity. This prepares you to perform the activity itself. The technique is useful in many areas of life—from avoiding anxiety during a stressful situation, to performing well during competition. You may find it a powerful tool in strength training.
- Identify the goal you want to visualize—for example, walking a golf course.
- Find a comfortable place to sit and relax.
- Eliminate all distractions—turn off the phone, television, etc.
- Close your eyes and focus on feeling relaxed. Free your mind of intruding thoughts.
- Now, imagine yourself on the golf course. Create a picture in your mind of the place—the sights, sounds, and smells. Imagine a perfect day, warm and sunny, with a gentle breeze. Picture yourself with your favorite golfing friends, talking and laughing. Now visualize yourself starting on your way, passing the golf carts, and setting off to walk the whole course.
- Take a moment to feel the pleasure and excitement of achieving this goal.
- Then imagine yourself walking from hole to hole, enjoying the sunshine, the views, the fresh air, the good company and excellent play.
- Finally, visualize yourself finishing the course and feeling great, both physically and emotionally.
Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.