You’ve probably come across lists of the benefits of exercise; lots of scientific research that stresses the importance of exercise; and even with that knowledge, 50% of people who start an exercise program will revert back to their old habits within 6 months, and many quit sooner. It’s easy to work out once in a while and then forget. If you want to motivated to work out on a consistent basis, you don’t need to look further than the Silva Method.
As tempting as it can be to stay on the couch, you know that you’ll feel worse if you don’t. Sure, there’s a temporary satisfaction, but later on you’ll feel guilty for not exercising.
The best way to make sure you exercise – and feel good about doing it – is to make exercise an integral part of your lifestyle and make it a habit.
- All habits (positive or negative) have built-in reward/reinforcement mechanisms.
- Habits are created through repetition; each time makes the behavior easier and more efficient.
- A habit takes anywhere from 21-60 days to imprint (on average); but you can speed up the process with the Silva Method Habit Control exercises.
Think about some of your habits like brushing your teeth or procrastinating. Those behaviors are so easy you barely give them a second thought. They’re automatic. Once you automate exercise, motivation comes effortlessly.
How to automate your fitness:
1. Identify your starting point and choose a goal. How do you feel about yourself? How do you want see yourself? What are your reasons for wanting to exercise?
2. Choose a reward that will motivate you to get started. This can be an extrinsic reward (where you are rewarded for your efforts) such as weight loss; measurable increases in strength and endurance; more energy; approval from others; making new friends; competition with prizes and recognition; a new outfit when you reach a certain weight; or treating yourself to a night out when you reach a fitness goal.
These tangible rewards are great ‘carrots’ that will motivate you in the beginning. However, when the going gets tough you will need intrinsic rewards to motivate you: higher self-esteem (because you’re becoming fitter, and mastering new skills); feeling your endurance, strength and flexibility increase; feeling the satisfaction of overcoming challenges; the enjoyment of the activity itself (the fun of moving your body) and other satisfying feelings. You might be surprised – intrinsic motivators are often more effective than extrinsic motivators!
3. Commit to a period of about 30 days to establish your habit. You may achieve it sooner, but don’t allow yourself to quit before you have created a habit of exercise. Some days can be ‘active recovery’ – go for a walk, or do some easy yoga. For best results, talk to a personal trainer or other fitness professional; tell them you are trying to establish a fitness habit and you want to approach it conservatively so you don’t get injured or burned out. They will show you how to incorporate ‘active recovery’ into your program to keep the consistency going.
You will probably have a series of built-in excuses: “I don’t know where to start,” “I don’t have time,” “It’s too hard.” Motivate yourself with mental images of a fit, lean, sexy, energetic and fit you. That’s enough to get you to the gym for a few days. And then it starts to hurt as you challenge your muscles. Now is the time to use self-reprogramming to make yourself exercise even when your mind is telling you it’s better to stay on the couch.
Using the Silva Habit Control method, visualize yourself doing the new activity and feeling great doing it. Reinforce that mental image using the Three Fingers technique to program yourself to experience positive feelings when you think about exercise – motivating yourself to exercise (it always feels great once you’re doing it!).
4. Stick with it!! Daily practice is essential to establishing a habit and again, you’ll need about a month. If you feel more positive about starting, give yourself permission to go back to your old habits AFTER the month is up. This will take the pressure off, and chances are slim that you will revert to the old habit once the new one is established.
1. Create the right mindset. Visualize the future in a positive way: in your mind, see and feel yourself looking great, feeling great, with an enthusiastic outlook, more energy and measurable progress. Use positive self-talk along with visualization. “I feel strong and alive when I exercise!” “I am worth it!” and “I can do this!”
2. Anytime you feel like skipping a day, bribe yourself with something pleasurable (not food). This will reinforce the positive behavior. Do not allow yourself to give in to excuses. You DO have time, if you manage your schedule. You have a responsibility to yourself to stay healthy!
3. Get support from friends and family. Get a workout/accountability buddy. Watching others improve is very motivational and will help you overcome a poor body image (if you have one). If your family or friends don’t “get it” then hire a personal trainer or fitness coach to help you along.
4. Set realistic goals and focus more on the enjoyment of the process than on the attainment of a goal. You won’t have fun and feel great only when you’ve achieved your goal – you’ll have fun and feel great during the process – enjoying the journey as much if not more than the destination!
5. Commit to 30-60 minutes of exercise every day for a month. Choose a few activities that you enjoy (or imagine yourself enjoying) and give them 100% joyful effort as you learn the ins and outs of the sport and master the skills. Mix up the activities so you don’t get bored and so you keep your muscles ‘guessing’ – you’ll progress faster. Factor in very easy ‘active recovery’ days as well as more challenging days. It’s important to get in the habit of moving your body every day while you establish this habit (remember to reward yourself!)