When it comes to building positive habits, your mind is your biggest tool. Staying on the track to success isn’t all about putting the work in physically but also mentally. Athletes need to be in the right frame of mind to keep themselves motivated. Even on your worst days, you can achieve your fitness goals by using the following mental hacks that get your mind in the game.
Hack One: Start a Mini Workout
Does anyone actually pop out of bed, ready to go? Not likely, but you can pretend you’re one of those morning people by committing to a small, easy to accomplish task. Whenever something looks difficult, even if you’ve done it a thousand times, your brain will convince you it is. Instead, tell your brain you’ll start a 5-minute workout and stop immediately after.
You may not have 1-hour to spare, but you definitely have a few minutes. Start doing a few arm exercises for mass in front of the television or squats while cooking your morning oatmeal. Once your body starts getting warm, your brain may “warm-up” to the idea of doing longer.
Hack Two: Make More Manageable Goals
When starting your fitness journey, you should create a goal or a set of goals that you can achieve in a year. Unfortunately, our brains see a year as lasting an entire decade, so there will always be another excuse not to attain a long-term goal. However, your brain does understand the concept of instant gratification, which is why gambling and alcohol are so popular.
Create micro-goals that are attainable and achievable within the day, week, and month. If you keep missing those goals, lower them until they become manageable. You’re training your brain to be successful, whether that takes a week or 2 months.
Hack Three: Switch it Up
Do our brains like new experiences or sameness? Change is terrifying for our brains, that’s why you’re having a hard time building the habit in the first place, but it’s great for our bodies. You have to switch up your workouts at least every 2 weeks to keep shedding calories, or you’ll hit a plateau. Nothing halts progress more than seeing no change and giving up.
Experiment with different workout regimens, styles, and routines to keep your body on its toes, literally. If kickboxing isn’t working for you, yoga might. Then again, you may have plateaued because you aren’t getting enough sleep or you’re feeling more stressed than usual.
Hack Four: Consciously Skip Workouts
Our brain does this funny thing when we skip a workout day, cheat on our diet, or sleep in. It falls entirely into disaster mode and starts to destroy progress. It’s not your fault: it’s the way our minds work. After 25, it becomes more challenging to break bad habits or improve on the good. It’s not impossible to take control as long as you employ a few manipulation tactics on yourself.
Skipping workouts must be done consciously and for rest, or else you skipped the workout. To ensure you don’t do this, put your workout equipment in front of the tv or in front of the door, so you have to move them to do something else. You’re more likely to pick up the gym bag and go!
Hack Five: Try Not to Care, Seriously
Why do we care about things that don’t matter, like eyes staring at us at the gym or interrupting a yoga class halfway through? Sure, the latter example is considered rude by some people, but why does that matter? It’s better to be late to the class than not attend at all. Insecurity can kill your motivation, so do your best to adopt a “go with the flow” attitude, even though it’s hard.
You’ll have to become more flexible throughout the day. Being ten minutes late isn’t the end of the world, and having to postpone your workout until later on in the day doesn’t have to ruin your day. There are a million ways to exercise while doing chores or other mundane tasks.