Hacking my motivation for workouts

Posted: - Modified: | life

There was a recent Lifehack.org post on tying something you love to workouts so that you feel more motivated. It’s useful to know how to hack your motivation. =) W- and I joke about this. After going to fitness class, we make sure there’s a little positive reinforcement. Sometimes we go out to eat. We cook most of our meals, so it’s a real treat for us to go to a restaurant. Sometimes we’ll prepare comfort food at home. Sometimes I’ll reward myself with time spent playing video games. It doesn’t do much for my motivation during the workout itself (I still feel like I suck!), but it’s good for getting me out the door and for cheering me up again afterwards. I try to skew my reward system towards free or low-cost things so that I don’t end up associating spending with pleasure: a pho date is wonderful, but so is watching a movie at home.

There aren’t many things in my life that need this kind of extra motivation. Sometimes I need to use extra motivation in order to start giving a good presentation if I’m not feeling up to par, but it’s a scheduled commitment, so that helps me get going. Once I’m in the flow, crowd energy usually leaves me buzzing. Dealing with system administration issues and embarrassing mistakes is tough, but it is what it is, so I just have to knuckle down and do it. It’s just optional tough things that need this kind of external motivation-hacking, like exercising or shopping for clothes. (Yes, I’m weird.) There’s clearing my inbox, which I usually get around to doing once a week or so. Business mail gets faster replies, but I’m not super-responsive, and I think that’s actually okay with my priorities.

I have six sessions left on my 10-session pass (which is my second), and I plan to go once a week with W-. (Maybe even twice, if I can work up to it – I used to before I sprained my ankle.) I wonder how much I can hack my motivation, and if I can get to the point of wanting to get another 10-session pass. In that time, I’m probably not going to be able to enjoy the feeling of keeping up properly with the rest of the class. I usually modifying all the exercises so that I can do them without getting so tired that I might injure myself. But I can increase my enjoyment of being able to check off one more session (maybe with a nice big visual reminder?), especially combined with biking to and from the gym. I can line up treats for myself (such as books or stretching), and then focus on tying the positive feelings back to the exercise. I can also look for other forms of exercise that I might enjoy. Maybe lifting small weights or hula-hooping while playing games? <laugh>

Lifehack.org: How to Trick Yourself into Loving Your Workout

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