The Psychology of Working Out (Why People Fail to Exercise)
You can count on it every January.
Just as you can count on the changing of the seasons you can count on a flood of people going back to the gym after the first of the year.
Once we get through the holidays we start to look at the New Year. Resolutions are made and the most common resolution is to get in better shape. People start heading back to the gym to work on their bodies and some even eat better.
But every year something happens. People get really into working out, but it only lasts for a week or maybe a few weeks at the most. By February nearly all of the additional gym goers are gone and by March just about hundred percent of the additional folks are back to their normal routine.
Why does this happen?
Let’s look at a few of the common reasons we fail to exercise. Hopefully an understanding of why we stop exercising will help us overcome the tendencies of failure and get back to working out.
It’s Easy to Break Promises
Motivation to workout early in the year comes from taking a look at oneself and realizing that changes need to be made. It’s no secret that the holiday months add pounds to the body. We’re traveling to visit family and we tend to eat more and eat food that is not as good for us like sweets.
By the time Christmas rolls around we’re motivated to get ourselves into better shape.
But this is where things first go wrong. While it is great to have self-motivation to get into better shape, most of us need additional motivation to workout every day. It’s too easy to break the promise to go to the gym every day if we’re the only ones told hold ourselves accountable.
As a way to get around this invite a friend or family member to the gym every day. Schedule time every day or at least every weekday to go to the gym. Having someone else on board will make it more difficult for you to cancel your plans.
Weight training is a good exercise to do with a partner. You’ll need each other for spotting and you can keep each other motivated to get that one last rep in before moving on to the next set.
There Isn’t Enough Time
Perhaps the biggest reason given for not working out, time is something we are all short on, but you can’t kid yourself into thinking you don’t have time to workout every day. Most of us can find an hour to workout each day even if we have long work hours and family commitments.
But if you don’t have an hour there is still something you can do to make sure you’re getting in your workout and it might actually be better for your body.
Try interval training. You’ll need 18 minutes for the workout portion and a few minutes to cool down and shower afterward. That’s about 30-45 minutes for this workout. Do it every other day for the best results and mix in weight training on the days when you’re not doing intervals.
Everybody has 45 minutes a day to workout. Something like interval training can actually cut time from your workout and it’s actually proven to be more beneficial when it comes to cutting the weight and toning those muscles.
Exercise Has Negative Connotation
Think back to the last time your broke a commitment to go to the gym.
What was going through your mind when you thought about working out?
Chances are you were thinking about working out in a negative light. You were thinking about what a pain it would be to change into workout clothes and get all sweaty. It seems so much better to grab a snack from the cupboard and stay at home or stay in the office to read gossip on the Internet.
Those are negative thoughts obviously. It’s not hard to realize why we never workout if we’re always thinking about it in a negative light.
In order to change those thoughts we need to get back to the reason we wanted to workout in the first place. We need to replace those negative thoughts with positive thoughts.
The strange thing is most of us feel really good right after we workout. Sweating out all those toxins feels really good. Our body is rejuvenated.
When you feel yourself coming up with excuses to avoid the workout start adding positives thoughts back into your mind.
Think about your future. You want to live to play with your grandkids. You want to be in shape so you can look in the mirror and smile every morning. You want to fit back into your favorite jeans.
Remember the good things about working out and put the positive back into the gym.
Working Out Is Painful
For some people it is actually painful to workout. Not only do you feel exhausted after working out, but also your joints, bones and muscles might actually be in pain.
If this is the case it’s no wonder you would break commitments to workout. Nobody wants to be in physical pain. Our bodies and minds are trained to avoid it.
If you’re in pain when you workout you’ll need to find alternative workout routines. Your body can’t go though life without physical training. You’re dying a slow death unless you can work your heart and build your muscles.
Swimming is an option for many people that struggle with joint pain. There are also machines that allow you to work on interval training without having to use your legs. There are options out there and it’s up to you to find them and keep your body moving forward.
Goals Are Too Big
Every year when we make those resolutions we create goals. Often the goal is too big and it can really hamper our ability to actually workout.
If you set the goal of losing 10, 20, 50 pounds you’re probably setting yourself up for failure.
It’s hard to have this goal in mind every day when we go to the gym. We start to let it creep into our mind that we’re never going to achieve such a big goal and once we’re convinced that the goal is too big we start skipping workouts. We tell ourselves it’s all right because the goal was too hard. We tell ourselves that nobody could burn off that much weight in a short time.
Instead of setting expectations so high it’s better in some cases to make small goals. Start by going to the gym with the goal of working out for one day in a row. Take steps from there to get you to workout three days each week and then five days each week.
As you accomplish your small goals you’ll see that the weight will come off.
We Focus on What We Can’t Do
Finally, our brains can sometimes fall into the trap of telling ourselves what we can’t do instead of what we can do.
Here’s an example. When you walk into the gym you might walk up to the weights and see others lifting quite a bit. You know that you can’t do that much. You leave the weight room and walk into the aerobics room. You see someone doing sprints on the treadmill. You tell yourself there is no way you could do that. You leave the aerobic room and just leave the gym.
This is focus on what you can’t do.
Instead, focus on what you can do and be happy when you finish a workout. Be happy that you accomplished something in the gym. Maybe you ran your fastest time on the treadmill. Maybe you did more reps with the dumbbells. Those are accomplishments. Remember, this is about what you can do instead of what you can’t.
These are some of the reasons we fail every year when we set new workout goals. Most of us are doomed before we even get started.
When you start that new workout routine this year use this knowledge along with other tricks for working out and you’ll be in a better mindset when it comes to getting in shape. You’ll have prepared yourself to succeed because you understand the psychology of exercise.
Don’t let your mind play tricks on you.
Stay focused and find yourself in the best shape of your life.