If you've ever gotten off track with exercise—or were never on track in the first place—getting up from the couch and into the gym can seem as likely as sprouting wings and flying away. Why play sports when you can just watch them on TV?
The truth is, all of us lose our motivation from time to time. As a sports psychologist at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, I've seen plenty of athletes hit a rut, and they come to me for help getting out. I make sure they understand that even the most competitive of us can hit a wall at any given moment, but the difference between a poor day and a poor lifestyle is how you handle what comes next.
If you're looking to motivate yourself and get your energy back on track, then you need to C.R.U.S.H. I.T.
C - Choose a goal or event
Identify a target to drive you to get moving again. Having a purpose is incredibly helpful for just about everything, and there's nothing like committing to a gym or paying for a 5k race to get you out the door. Even a simple, easy goal, like taking a walk around the block, can help you break out of a bad routine.
R - Roadmap your plan
Lay out a clear plan for success, and start with a target that's too easy to fail. Then wake up each morning knowing exactly what you're going to do that day. Indecision is a barrier that leads to inaction – start small and watch the progression!
U - Understand your “why”
Connect with your motivation. Why is exercising or getting fit important to you? To fit in clothes? To play with your kids? To lower your blood pressure? The answer has to come from you, not anyone else. Connecting with your “why” will make putting in the time easier and will re-engage you when things get stale.
S - State your goal
This means a couple of things. First, communicate your goal to others. The extra accountability will get you moving. Second, create a more excited energy state. Wake up to Pantera blasting to get you out of bed. Say “Navy Seal” to yourself to channel your inner motivation. Olympians do this all the time – create the right mental state to have enough energy to push through your challenges.
H - Help yourself
Remember too easy to fail. Make things too easy to fail. Unrealistic expectations lead to unachieved goals. Start small and build, let your environment work for you. Difficulty waking up? Set your alarm on the other side of the room, set your coffee pot to be ready in the morning or lay out (or sleep in) your gym clothes. Having trouble finding time for yourself to exercise? Learn to feel comfortable saying no so you create that time, and add more time into your routines so you don't feel rushed and overwhelmed. And if travel is difficult, find an online workout program you can do from the living room or get a gym membership that's close to your house. Help yourself by leveraging your environment.
I - Imagine success
Picture the end goal. Picture yourself dealing with barriers effectively. Picture how good you feel when you're done working out, every time. What the mind believes, the body achieves. See it, then do it!
T - Track it
Get out the calendar and the permanent marker. Accomplishment feels good! Make your plan, and when each workout is complete, but a big sharpie X over it. It feels great. Then once you have a streak going, bask in the glory of seeing a whole week or month of Xs.
Lapses in motivation are unique to each of us, and we all find unique ways to overcome them. The key is to own them and fight back. That way you can C.R.U.S.H. I.T. every time.