How To

    Work Out Even When You Don’t Feel Like It

    There are lots of things that get in the way of a workout, but your mindset shouldn’t be one of them

    Guilt mixed with frustration. That’s the feeling that lingers when you miss another workout that you promised yourself you would.

    But why didn’t you workout? Every bit of your logical brain wanted to. You knew you should. And, you knew it would be good for you. It’s too easy to say you were tired after work or you have more time tomorrow.

    Exercise reduces the risk of heart disease, improves mood, improves mental clarity, increases the chances of living longer and can even improve your sleep.

    But, me listing all those benefits doesn’t make it any easier to head to the gym or do your home workout.

    Trust me, I get it.

    I used to be a competitive swimmer. From the age of 10 to 22, I trained in 10 two-hour swimming sessions every week, plus up to three conditioning sessions and full-time high school and college.

    I did all that and barely missed a training session. How?

    That’s exactly what I’m going to show you in this article. One psychology trick that I have personally used to get me out of bed at 5 a.m. and jump in a cold pool.

    Getting Dressed for Battle

    Almost every elite athlete will tell you that your performance either in the gym or in a competition is only one part of the equation. You need to get yourself into the right mindset to perform.

    Let me put it this way: When was the last time you put on your gym clothes and didn’t actually make it into the gym? It’s probably quite rare when you think about it.

    That’s because your mind and body know: “When I put on my gym clothes, it’s time to work out.” Generally, once you’ve put your shorts, T-shirt, and gym shoes on, you’ve already committed yourself to the next step: exercise.

    You can actually leverage this mindset trick. Let’s say you’re working a full day at the office and you want to workout afterwards. Instead of heading home, sitting for a bit and then maybe making it out to the gym, I want you to take your gym clothes to work.

    As soon as you finish work, before you leave, get changed into your gym gear and notice how you feel. In fact, make changing into your gym clothes your only goal. Don’t even worry about committing to the gym.

    Shift Your Goals

    Early morning workouts?

    When your alarm goes off, your only goal should be getting dressed to work out. As soon as you put your gym shoes on, you’ve hugely cut your chances of curling back up under the covers.

    This trick isn’t just about getting dressed for the occasion. Yes, that’s one part of it. But, it’s also about creating small, easier-to-achieve goals that help you smash that one bigger goal.

    That means that you can apply it to suit how your mind works. If you notice you’re getting your workout gear on but still avoiding the gym, I want you to just focus on turning up.

    I have a motto that 1 is better than 0. If 0 is not exercising and 5 is having an amazing workout, then 1 is better than 0.

    On my scale, 1 is turning up to the gym. I don’t worry about what I’m going to do when I’m there or even how long I’ll exercise for.

    But I know that if I do turn up, then chances are I’m going to make a session out of it. And yes, sometimes maybe all I’ll do is turn up, do some stretching and not give 100 percent. But, it’s still better than 0.

    And, because I’ve shifted my goals, I actually walk away from the session without kicking myself and feeling guilty. I find that when I associate guilt with exercise, it can cause a downward spiral of wanting to avoid it totally.

    Mind Over Matter

    Remember, no amount of convincing yourself to exercise by using logic is going to help.

    You need to get yourself in the right mindset. For most, that’s a case of making sure you get your uniform on and let your body take you through the rest. It’s all about shifting your goals and expectations of yourself.

    You’re not shifting the goals to cut corners. You’re shifting them to make it easier to get to your destination.

    It’s a short and sweet mindset tip but it sure is an effective one.

    And, it’s one I use outside of exercise, too. Need to work from home? Focus on just switching on the laptop…


    Connor Mollison is a full-time commercial photographer with a passion for exploring the outdoors and a background in elite sport.

    Feature image by George Pagan III; weightlifting image by John Arano; running image by asoggetti

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