I set myself a target of getting back into the fitness routine on the 1st of August. It is now the 7th August, and all I have done so far is 2 sets of shoulder presses. And I should know better! But, I had come back from holiday late on Sunday night - mainly because we broke down in the dark on a small back road. No rescue coming, and so the Police had to move the car and we got home at 3am....
Then came work on Monday morning and a catching up, plus the hassle of trying to get the car out of the compound and into a garage, which was an absolute nightmare. Then practicing Disco Aerobics - which I totally love, so that was a complete joy and I really enjoyed the class. I was buzzing and all this week I have been planning new routines - but still didn't manage to get to the weights...
During the week we had our cousins from away staying in Aber and met them twice, it was my husbands birthday, and then Borth Carnival - all in all, a busy, social week, lots of eating and drinking, lots of fun....and I still didn't manage to get to the weights...
Ah, but, you might say, that was a busy week - and it was exceptional, but you can often find that weeks can pass by and your drive to want to improve your fitness is there, and yet another week goes by. Time is often the most quoted reason as to why we do not exercise and so this blog is all about my tips about how to make it easier - if you can trust me after such a poor showing last week!
The first thing I started with was a date in my head (and my diary). This is a good starting point. I now feel guilty that I missed it, and have more of a sense of "urgency" to get it done - and a short deadline is shown to be more effective as it removes the flexibility or "I'll do it tomorrow" situation. I am back teaching full time on the 5th and need to be on it! This is known as the "mere-deadline effect" and is used in business, commerce and fitness training as a way to motivated people to complete a task. The theory by Zhu (2019) suggest that a long goal (although useful) can lead to procrastination and a higher likelihood of quitting.
There are some jobs in the house that I hate doing - cleaning the shower plug has to be up there - and so I do put that off, which then makes it a worse job. I'd be better off doing it more often, but quite frankly, it makes me gag... Do not choose any exercise, ever, that makes you gag...probably for me, skiing downhill....
However, you can try the "mere exposure effect" which is when your respond more positively to the "stimulus" ie, exercise, the more times that you are exposed to it. Much of this is to do with memory and linking memory to the experience - and it stands to reason that if you enjoy that experience, you enjoy it more when you repeat this. I often get people telling me this about Pilates - especially those who have been sent to class by their Dr or Physio to improve their fitness and come to it as a "chore" but end up loving the workout - or as someone said to me last week, she came because her friend was coming and has continued for 10 years, although the friend has not!
In practical terms, try to do the exercise more than once - try at least 5 times before quitting and thinking it is not for you.
Be Open to New Ideas:
"Mere Motivation" examines how we are more likely to engage in a "task" when we know more about it - it is often used in study techniques to help the brain to remember, and it is something that really works for me. I know, after having a lazy 6 weeks off that my body is reminding me of aches and pains I had forgotten about, and these are huge drivers for me to get back to fitness training.
The theory behind this looks at the "context" in which we view the "subject" - in this case, exercise. If your motivation to exercise is extrinsic ie, so that you "look better", then the motivation to change diminishes. If you are "intrinsically" motivate, then the chances of success are higher - that is to say, you do it for your own personal reasons, where you get pleasure and enjoyment for completing the task.
Being open to new ideas sparks creativity and engagement, plus a delightful spike in dopamine which always helps us to be motivated. My one joy this summer has been "Disco Aerobics" which has combined my love of dancing and music, with the freedom to be as mad as I want in terms of creativity. It has sparked such joy in me - and in many others too.
Go find something you have not done and give it a go, find a friend or join a group. Harness the academic theories to make you feel confident that these tricks work. "Mere Belonging" suggest that social interactions raises motivation and persistence in completing a task (Walton, et.al, 2012) and social connectiveness has a positive impact on the "self" ie, you!
"Mere Fun" can be something you can use to help you to incorporate "exercise" into your life. If exercise becomes more playtime than chore time, then you are not only more likely to engage with it, but in a study by Werle et.al. (2015) they found that people subsequently consumed less dessert at mealtimes and fewer hedonic snack (ie, the ones that give you pleasure like chocolate..). They found that engaging in physical activity seems to trigger the search for "reward" (or treat) when we perceive it as exercise but not when we perceive it as fun!
Adherence to exercise enhances our commitment and by making this element, fun, playful, enjoyable, we are more likely to perceive it as something we happily choose to do and keeps us accountable when trying to eat healthy. Your fun might not be my fun, but find the joy in exercise. And now, I'm back to training, because I am quite excited about Café Medi and looking forward to the weeks of exercise - and I know I will enjoy it more when I have practiced the moves and written the plans. I hope you find some spark in this blog to help you to search for your own fun fitness xx