Have More Energy Every Day
3 Ways to Get Going
One morning not long ago my motivation was at a major low point.
I had plans to meet a friend at Zumba, but when I woke at 7 a.m., it was raining, I had a cramp in my leg, and, frankly, staying in bed and finishing that dream about Jake Gyllenhaal seemed a thousand times more appealing than yanking off the covers and heading out into the gray gloom. But then I heard an urgent whisper in my ear: "Get up and get your workout out of the way now; you can always rest later!" It was Janet Evans speaking. Yes, that Janet Evans, the Olympic swimmer who won four gold medals at the 1988 and 1992 Olympic Games. She mentioned this mantra in an interview I watched decades ago. I stuck it in my back pocket back then, and I pull it out for the ultimate kick in the butt when I need it most.
Mantras, rewards, and other little tricks of the mind can be the perfect way to jump-start your motivation on days your energy is lagging, says sports psychologist JoAnn Dahlkoetter, PhD, the author of Your Performing Edge. "If you find a ritual that works for you and repeat it over time, your body will instantly respond when you need that extra push," she says. So I decided to ask a few world-class athletes, trainers, psychologists, and FITNESS readers how they get motivated to move it.Get mojo from your mini-me.
"When I used to swim, it was always for external goals, like scholarships or world records," explains Evans, who, as a 40-year-old mother of two, came back to the games after 16 years, hoping to qualify for the 2012 London Olympics. "Now it's more personal. I remind myself that I'm showing my 5-year-old daughter that if you set a goal and work hard for it, you can achieve anything. Yesterday she said to me, 'Mommy, you smell like chlorine.' And I said, 'Get used to it, girl!'"Go for instant gratification.
Sure, working out can help lower your risk for cancer, heart disease, and a slew of other scary illnesses. But those long-term benefits seem awfully abstract when you're trying to tear yourself away from New Girl to go to the gym. "Our research found that the women who stick with exercise programs are the ones who do it for benefits they can experience immediately, such as having more energy or feeling less stress," says Michelle Segar, PhD, the associate director of the University of Michigan Sport, Health and Activity Research and Policy Center for Women and Girls. She suggests starting a journal to jot down reasons to exercise that will pay off today -- to be more alert for an afternoon meeting, to snap less at your kids -- and reviewing it when you need a push. So long, Zooey Deschanel; hello, treadmill.Star in a mental movie.
"Visualization is a great tool: I see myself at my healthiest, fittest, and strongest, doing different athletic endeavors. This motivates me to go the extra mile and skip the junk food," says Jennifer Cassetta, a celebrity trainer and holistic nutritionist in Los Angeles. "Picturing yourself accomplishing something may create a neural pathway in your brain in almost the same way as actually completing the feat would," explains Kathleen Martin Ginis, PhD, a professor of health and exercise psychology at McMaster University in Canada. "It also gives you a burst of confidence that you can succeed, which makes you more likely to continue your training." Use all five senses to make your internal blockbuster as realistic as possible: See the clock at the finish line, hear the roar of the crowd as you turn the final corner of the race, and feel your arms pumping as you stride across those last few yards.
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