Mike Fohner, cross country running coach, tells this story about one of his students:
“Last year, one of my young cross-country runners was fully content walking up the hills and avoiding physical exertion to the maximum extent possible. I tried all sorts of tactics and motivation techniques…to wits end. Even my “walkers club” (post practice sprints for those that walk during practice) had no effect.
One meet, this runner unexpectedly knocked 3 minutes off her best time to which I gave a look of amazement to her parents. They smiled and said, “Well…she didn’t walk…so I guess we owe her ten bucks!!” So it appears that money is an effective motivator for all ages!
Brace yourself. According to Rod K. Dishman, Ph.D., director of the Behavioral Fitness Laboratory at the University of Georgia, nearly 50 percent of people who begin an exercise program drop out within the first 6 months.
The question is, “Why?” What is it about attempting to stick to a fitness routine that causes so many people abandon it?
The answer? Motivation.
They have not found the driving force that will keep them accountable. It is a simple fact of human psychology that if you want something badly enough, you will do everything possible to get it.
Sometimes the benefits of better health and fitness simply isn’t enough of a reason for 1 in 2 people.
How to unlock your motivation
Mike Fohner’s student found that money was the motivation she needed to push her out of her comfort zone and into a commitment that she previously hadn’t been interested in.
Bryan Reece found a different motivation. Told by his doctors that he was minutes away from a heart attack, Bryan decided to fight back.
Even though he had not been in a gym in 30 years, he turned his life around and eventually became a finisher in the Arizona Ironman triathlon. You can read his story in the book, You Are an Ironman: How Six Weekend Warriors Chased Their Dream of Finishing the World’s Toughest Triathlon by Jacques Steinberg.
You do not have to be part of that 50 percent who quit.
You can stay committed and finish strong. It is all about finding what motivates you personally.
Need motivation? Here are some suggestions
1. Do it for your health
Consistent exercise and healthy eating are the two very best things you can do for your health. They happen to also be a pretty economical way to reduce your health expenditure over time.
You will develop a strong, healthy heart, reduce your chances of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and even cancer. And exercise and healthy nutrition has been shown to have huge benefits towards keeping your mind sharp, as well as having protective effects against certain types of dementia.
It is possible to age without “decay”, and the foundation to this is exercise and eating well.
2. Do it to look better
Appearance isn’t everything, but most of us care how we look. A strong and healthy person just looks good. And it isn’t all physical.
Your demeanor will change as you develop the confidence that comes from the discipline of fitness. You will be more energetic and confident because you will be more energetic and confident!
3. Do it to relieve stress
Really! It isn’t a cliché. Exercising really does cause physical changes in your brain and nervous system that results in feelings of calmness and well-being.
In fact, you may get so hooked on the mental benefits of exercise that you will crave it and feel lousy when you miss your workouts.
4. Do it to be strong
If you have never done focused weight training, then you literally have no idea of the total transformation that you will feel after just a few weeks.
There is nothing like bending over to pick something up that normally results in discomfort, strain and even pain, only to find out that it is a piece of cake. And by getting strong now, you reduce your risk of age-related falls and fractures because you have the core strength and balance to stay stable as you age.
It is worth taking some time this week to reflect and discover the powerful motivators in your life.
Fear of a massive heart attack.
Fear of developing dementia.
Do not worry about ‘bribing’ yourself.
Do whatever it takes to stimulate action.
Find out what makes the sweating worth it.
Find out what you want more than that brownie or a bowl of ice cream.
Your health is at stake.
In fact, your very life and the quality of that life, is at stake.
That seems like a pretty good motivator, huh?