When was the last time you looked at exercise as something more than just a way to burn fat and lose weight? Yeah I know what you are thinking “blaa blaa exercise is good for my health” and yes why that’s true it’s a bit….well boring! Its very not very sexy and certainly not motivating.
Is the idea of being healthy in the years down the line really going to get you up extra early for that gym session? Unless you have a drastic life changing event that really forces you to look at your future health, your day-to-day healthy is not going to be the most powerful motivator, the strange thing is neither is weight loss. How many times have you reached for that slice of cake knowing it’s certainly not the road to a slimmer waist…but you ate in anyway.
It’s human nature to seek out instant gratification for our actions. Eat a piece of cake and it tastes great. Dip out of a gym session and the instant result is that you can stay in front of the tv and *relax, but unfortunately the results from consistently exercising and eating will not come overnight…hardly the instant gratification we want.
*A few studies have shown that relaxing in front of a tv can improve your mood but after 2-hours it has the opposite effect and can act as a depressant.
Now yes we could beat the worn-out drum and say things like “you just have to want it!”…:You just need to focus on the long term benefits!” and yes that all sounds very good but it does absolutely nothing. When you’re on route home from work and you either turn left to the gym or continue straight ahead to watch you favourite programme at home. We need some form of instant gratification for our actions otherwise it’s going to be one hard slog.
So I ask again:
When was the last time you looked at exercise as something more than just a way to burn fat and lose weight?
There was a fascinating study where they tracked the amount of exercise performed by individuals who exercised for either short term or long term reasonswhe.
The long term group chose to exercise to focus on things like losing weight and improved health. Whereas the short term group focused on the short term benefits like improved mood, more alert, more awake and active and better concentration at work.
The end result. On average the short-term focus group consistently attended the gym more and for longer durations.
The funny thing is the long-term group would have received the exact same short term benefits of exercise like being feeling great (endorphins release), improved brain function and better concentration at work but that was not what was motivating them.
From my perspective
I have specific long-term objectives that I am training towards (normally a 90-day objective works best for me) but I also love and enjoy the benefits from the individual training sessions too.
I know after a great gym session I feel more awake, more focused and generally I am in a better mood. I also have training specific goals like mastering the free handstand that I enjoy chasing, that’s what motivates me. That’s what gives me a little push when the little voice pipes up about missing a gym session.
I am not saying it’s bulletproof and I never miss a gym session but research has shown that if we are more focused on the short-term benefits to exercise we will train more consistently than if we just stare into the distant goal for daily motivation and willpower.
Take Home Points
How do you feel after a great gym sessions? Are you happy? Is there a sense of achievement? Are you more focused at work after your lunchtime run? Do you kids stress you out a little less after a great kettlebell session? I want you to really explore how you feel directly after you exercise. More often we are all in such a rush we move onto the next job without taking stock of how we feel.
If you’re not 100% with your answers no worries. Write down a few ideas now and then and make it this week’s mission to do some form of exercise even if it’s only for 15-minutes then write down how you feel after. Be honest and be specific…the more details the better. Also think about what exercise you enjoy. Do you hate the idea of running but love playing squash? Well guess what…go play squash and ditch the running. You will get more short-term enjoyment and we both know that means it’s going to happen more often than that dreaded Sunday morning run.