It’s a given that as you go through life, you’re going to come into stress regularly. The question is: how are you going to deal with it? If you’re reading this, you’ve probably built a habit of turning to food and/or TV/streaming shows when you get stressed.
But you’ve had enough! You’re ready to change. You realize that exercise is a fantastic outlet; but you’re not sure how to change your habit from eating to working out. I’m happy to tell you that it all boils down to four simple steps that you could take TODAY!
In his book “The Power of Habit”, Charles Duhigg talks about how many people use this excuse: “impossible to change, it’s just who I am”. However, it’s not too difficult to change a habit – as long as you understand the reasons behind them.
How does one do this?
With these four little workout motivation tips, you’ll begin to re-wire yourself to reach for your gym clothes instead of food when you get upset. Here’s how.
4 Workout Motivation Tips To Exercise Instead of Eat
1. Recognize the routine.
Researchers at MIT discovered a basic neurological loop at the very center of every habit. This neurological loop has three parts:
- the cue (stress)
- a routine (grab the food)
- the reward (eating)
While we can’t change the cue, we CAN change the routine and the reward. It just takes a little bit of thought and effort.
2. Change how you look at the reward.
In the case of finding workout motivation, the reward from exercise is actually far stronger than the reward from eating!
When we exercise, we are changing our physiology by upping the hormone levels in our bodies. Just the simple act of heading out the door for a walk, or hitting the weights at the gym, has a FAR stronger positive reward to our body and mind than grabbing food.
The key is to GET STARTED in changing how you look at the reward for the habit.
3. Before you head for food, pause.
Pause and write down the first three things that come to mind. I know what you’re thinking: has this dude lost his mind? What does writing down what I’m thinking have to do with workout motivation?
These three things can be anything that comes to mind: emotions, thoughts on how you’re feeling, songs by your favorite musician, or random things. For example, right now my thoughts would be: cute puppy, coffee, and happy.
Now once you’ve written down these three things, sit down (somewhere not near the food) and set an alarm for 15 minutes. When it goes off, ask yourself if you still feel like eating.
This mental exercise may seem silly, but it actually does a number of things for us:
- It allows us to become aware of what we are thinking and feeling.
- This snaps us into momentary awareness.
- The 15 minutes helps us to figure out if you’re really hungry, or you just need to move (9 times out of 10, we need to exercise!).
4. Put on your walking shoes.
Or grab your gym bag/jump rope/TRX, or whatever, and get started on your exercise!
If you’re stressed in the middle of work and you can’t leave to go to the gym, then simply take a walk around the park, or head to the stairs and walk up and down for 3-5 minutes. Then come back to your desk.
Don’t put it off. Begin the new reward right away! NOW is the time to get started on exercise and drastically change your “automatic habit”.
Just those 3-5 minutes can help reduce the hormonal stress response of the body, allowing you to blunt the negative impact enough. This is until you can leave after work for a longer walk, or head to the gym/park to get moving – instead of moving to the couch with a bag of chips.
Don’t be fooled! While these workout motivation tips are simple, they can be challenging to do consistently – and consistency is the key to success!
Write yourself a sticky note or a reminder in your phone. Be sure to read it twice each day: once in the morning and again in the evening. This is to remind yourself that you are changing your habit of how you respond when you’re upset. This little daily reminder can make big waves on your journey to a NEW habit.
Finding your workout motivation can have an absolutely MASSIVE positive impact on many aspects of your life!
Having worked as the Exercise Physiologist for a Bariatric Surgery Group, as well as a cycling, running, and triathlon coach, I have both helped and seen first-hand the incredible transformation that many folks have made happen by changing their habit.
From 400lbs down to 205lbs and running a half marathon, or going from 265lbs down to 195lbs and racing bicycles, you too can accomplish incredible positive results. This not only changes how you deal with stress, but also begins an incredible body and life-changing transformation.
Become a no-holds-barred champion, kick stress in the butt, and be a sharper, healthier, more confident version of yourself. Finding your workout motivation can knock down that first “tough” domino and get your momentum going to unleash your full potential to the world, and unlock your ability to accomplish goals and aspirations.
I’ve seen it many times before and the results are spectacular. What are you waiting for?