How to Tap Into Motivational Thinking

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Research shows that how you think impacts your motivation level.  We uncovered a few easy ways to tap into this research to increase your motivation to exercise.

You can increase your motivation to exercise by thinking about the specific actions, instead of potential benefits or reasons.

Thinking about the speaking actions has been shown to be more effective for boosting motivation than thinking about the benefits of exercise.

The list below shows a few examples of thoughts that will motivate you to exercise through action-specific thoughts and those that will not motivate you to exercise.

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THOUGHT THAT WILL NOT MOTIVATE YOU TO EXERCISE

I won’t feel tense or like a failure because I know exercise lowers my stress.

THOUGHT THAT WILL MOTIVATE YOU TO EXERCISE

I will lower my stress by listening to music, a book-CD, or watch TV during my cardio workout.

THOUGHT THAT WILL NOT MOTIVATE YOU TO EXERCISE

If I exercise, I will have more energy and stamina.

THOUGHT THAT WILL MOTIVATE YOU TO EXERCISE

I’ll improve my energy and stamina by reading my favorite magazine while using the indoor bike, elliptical trainer, or treadmill.

THOUGHT THAT WILL NOT MOTIVATE YOU TO EXERCISE

I won’t be grumpy with other people because exercise will improve my mood.

THOUGHT THAT WILL MOTIVATE YOU TO EXERCISE

I will improve my mood with exercise through commitment by writing down my fitness plan and scheduling two days a week in my planner.

THOUGHT THAT WILL NOT MOTIVATE YOU TO EXERCISE

I will feel better about myself physically and mentally if I exercise.

THOUGHT THAT WILL MOTIVATE YOU TO EXERCISE

I will find a workout partner or trainer who is already exercising on a consistent basis so that I too can feel better about myself physically and mentally by exercising.

THOUGHT THAT WILL NOT MOTIVATE YOU TO EXERCISE

I’ll set a good example for my kids, friends and co-workers by exercising.

THOUGHT THAT WILL MOTIVATE YOU TO EXERCISE

To set a good example, I’ll hike with my kids, take a lunch time walk with my co-workers or take a cardio class with a friend.

Thoughts That Fuel Motivation

Boosting your motivation to exercise begins with correct thoughts that fuel motivation. By using any or all of the green thoughts mentioned above, you’ll be thinking about the specific actions linked with raising your motivation level.

If you’re having trouble applying the action-specific chart examples above, here is my short list of 3 favorite examples for each common fitness goal:

1. Weight Training/Lifting Goals:

For setting weight training/lifting goals: I will record the exercise, the amount of weight, repetitions and sets for each body part I train.

2. Endurance Goals:

For endurance goals: I will record my cardio workout, including the type of cardio exercise (bike, treadmill, swim, elliptical, etc.), the length of time or distance, the intensity level and maximum heart rate during the workout.

3. Weight Loss Goals:

For setting weight loss goals: I will buy a pedometer to record the number of steps I take each day. I will set a goal of 5,000 steps per day for the first month and progress my number of steps each month thereafter.

So the next time you need some help overcoming a motivation hurdle to exercise, start by defining the action-specific thoughts you need to align with your own fitness goals.

Putting It All Together

The reason I placed so much emphasis on an alternative to only thinking about exercise or rationalizing why exercise is beneficial is because this kind of thinking will not help you sustain motivation. Action-specific thoughts, however, actually support you to take the actions you have in mind.

And, in seeing yourself take action, you will tap into motivation automatically, build greater self-esteem and a sense of confidence in obtaining your fitness goals. You will begin to know which actions generate the best results.

Plus, the more specific you can be, the greater your ability to optimize your exercise program. This improves the effectiveness of your program and makes it more time efficient–one the most common requests I get from personal training beginners.

For additional Fitness True Health Tips, check out our book and e-book

About Dave Barnas, M.S., CES, NASM-CPT

Dave is a true health expert. He is the founder and owner of True Health Unlimited, LLC, a personal health and fitness company in Tolland, CT. Dave earned both a Bachelor's (1998) and Master's Degree (2000) in Nutritional Science from the University of Connecticut, and also holds certifications as a National Strength and Conditioning Association Certified Personal Trainer, National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer and Corrective Exercise Specialist, Aerobics and Fitness Association of America Group Instructor, and Nutrition Specialist. He's also the lead author for four published works. Dave has over 18,000 hours of combined experience in nutrition counseling, dietary supplement advising, personal training, corrective exercise training, health coaching and public speaking. In addition, he's spent over 20 years studying spirituality, meditation, and personal growth strategies. Dave's clients are all ages: youth, college championship level athletes, folks in their retired years, and everywhere in between. He's worked with three of the nation's leading physicians as a dietary supplement advisor and been a guest lecturer at Harvard University, Yale University, UConn, St. Joseph College and various church groups, health clubs, and high schools. In 2013, he was invited to Whole Foods Market to share his Real Food Therapy Guide. And in 2015, Dave's funny "Snowga" (yoga in the snow) video caught the attention of The National Weather Channel, who aired it to shake off cabin fever and bring laughter. In 2016, Dave & Hollie (his beloved) began writing evidence-based Wellness Newsletters to spread a message of health and happiness to various small businesses throughout Connecticut.

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