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I don't seem to get motivated
Jun 24, 2013

Nelson, I get bored easily at the gym and cannot seem to stay motivated to exercise 3 times a week. I see that you have been able to work out for years. How do you stay motivated? Thanks!

Response from Mr. Vergel

Most people find excuses to skip exercise. Many have full time demanding jobs, kids, chores, or feel too tired to exercise. There are too many things competing for our time. If we do not find ways to stick with important health habits many of us will not age in a healthy way. And as more and more people around us are out of shape, that shapes our own values. In fact, there is research that shows that fitness, happiness and being sedentary/obese may be contagious. The quality of our health may not only depend on us but also on our network of friends. The hidden influence of social networks

To be honest with you, I do not feel motivated to go to the gym more than 50 percent of the time and I have been exercising for 30 years! I keep going back because of fear of losing control of my physical and mental health.

When I skip exercising for more than 3-4 days I feel that my energy level, mood and coping mechanism worsen. So I try to remember this "cost" of skipping the gym when I am giving myself excuses for not going to the gym. Almost every single time I push myself go to the gym I am glad I did so since I leave the gym with a much better mental outlook. So, in my case, exercising takes care not only of my body and health but also my mind. Sometimes, just showing up and doing a light workout is an accomplishment in itself.

I have a "ritual" in preparing myself to work out. I usually try to go when my energy is at its best (I am not a morning person, so my energy usually peaks at 3-5 pm). A shot of espresso 30 minutes before working out usually sets me in motion. If I have not eaten during the past 3 hours, I try to eat some apple slices/bananas dipped in natural almond butter, or some nuts and fruit (a combo of carbs,fats and fiber for sustained energy)before heading to the gym.

I also believe that gyms should be close to your home or place of work. Driving long distances can fuel excuses to skip exercising.

Some people can motivate themselves better if they exercise at home. But most, like me, end up using home-based exercise equipment as a clothes hanger that they later sell on craigslist. For me, I have to see people around me trying harder than me to push myself. And the eye candy at the gym can also help to distract and motivate myself.

I get bored with cardiovascular exercise. As we all know, cardio is important to help increase metabolic rate to burn lipids, glucose and fat. But it can be tedious for me. I discovered that I now look forward to 30 min on the treadmill if I am watching videos on my phone. I am addicted to watching videos from TED.com's free app that motivate me to be a better person. You can chose topics you like and the length of the video by bookmarking them for later viewing. I sit down once a week to chose at least five videos I want to watch at the gym. Time flies now and I am not getting bored while doing cardio.

For the resistance exercise part of my workout, I need to listen to fun dance music that energizes me. I use phone apps like pandora and Spotify to make sure I do not get bored listening to the same music for a long time.

Some busy people add their exercise sessions to their calendars so that it becomes an "appointment" with themselves.

Some people also feel more motivated when working out with a friend for whom they have to remain accountable. I prefer exercising by myself to get in and out of the gym in an hour. If doing it right, 30 min of resistance exercise with machines and/or weights followed by 30 min of cardiovascular exercise 3-4 times a week is what is needed to stay in shape and healthy without spending your life at the gym. Most of us spend 112 waking hours or more a week, so exercise sessions only amount to 3.6% of your awake life!

For more information: Exercise: The Best Therapy

Creating healthy habits takes some work and repetition. To end, I would like use a paragraph taken from:Busting the 21 days habit formation myth

"The bottom line is: stay strong. 21 days is a myth; habit formation typically takes longer than that. The best estimate is 66 days, but it's unwise to attempt to assign a number to this process. The duration of habit formation is likely to differ depending on who you are and what you are trying to do. As long as you continue doing your new healthy behaviour consistently in a given situation, a habit will form."

Good luck !

In health,

Nelson



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