Think alternatives. When physical activity is perceived as fun—i.e., when it is labeled as a scenic walk rather than an exercise walk—people subsequently consume fewer sweets and other snacks (See this study).
This means you should stop trying to love cardio and opt for something you adore, like swimming or hiking. People who make exercising feel like chore eventually quit.
You can take dance classes, do martial arts, join the town`s running team, or play football with your mates every Sunday. Do whatever that makes you feel good and whatever you can sustain for a long time. This will make you consistent, and also help you eat fewer calories.
1. Forget Goals, Think Systems
“Throughout my career I’ve had my antennae up, looking for examples of people who use systems as opposed to goals. In most cases, as far as I can tell, the people who use systems do better,” writes Scott Adams, bestselling author of How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big.
The difference between systems and goals is the same difference between people who stay fit at their 60s, and those who regained their weight back months after losing it which, according to studies, happens to most dieters. In fact, it makes sense not to set a weight-loss goal.
You may want to lose those 30 pounds before summer, which is okay, but you`ll eventually retreat to your old habits after losing this weight for two reasons,
2. You don’t know what do next.
The entire journey felt like a burden. You ate like a rabbit, ditched the food you love dearly, and did thousands of ugly sit-ups just to look good. All these don`t seem like habits you can sustain for long.
Systems, however, are things you aspire to do for a very long time because this is how you want to live life. It`s like deliberately choosing to be vegan, or running every morning because that`s how you see yourself, a runner.
I spent more than 10 years yo-yo dieting, and I never kept a lost weight more than six months. It`s only when I thought of intermittent fasting as something I`d love to do forever, and deliberately chose to make it a lifestyle, I kept all the weight I lost since then.
A system, according to Scott, is “something you do on a regular basis that increases your odds of happiness in the long run.”
So it doesn`t matter what you do as long as you see yourself doing it for good. Rather than feel forced to exercise, or eat clean, make small, but lasting shifts, that get along with your personality and lifestyle. Consistency is always the king.
3. Get yourself some competition.
Competition is a much stronger motivation for exercise than social support. When a research team from the University of Pennsylvania compared the results between a competition group —those who were motivated through competing with other groups— and a support group —those who were motivated through social support and pep talk—, they found that competing has double the impact on participants` motivation than friendly support.
In numbers, the team support group exercised an average of 16.8 workout/week which is half the exercise rate of the competitive groups.
4. Opt for a healthy environment.
Replace the junk food in your fridge with better choices and you`ll eat healthier. This is much healthier, according to Brian Wansink, director of Food and Brand Lab at Cornell University, than to resist temptations. His advice is to take care of your surroundings instead of worrying about how much you can`t resist junk food.
If you do so, there will be nothing to resist in the first place. “It’s easier to change your eating environment than to change your mind. It’s easier to move your candy dish across the room than to resist it when it’s on your desk,” writes Wansink in his book, Slim By Design: Mindless Eating Solutions For Everyday Life.
5. You’d better know that you`re not training for the Olympics.
Anytime I wanted to exercise, I would think about how hard it will be for me to lift heavy when I`ve been out all day and didn`t eat enough protein. And I`d call it a day and stay in bed watching FRIENDS. And it wasn`t only me. Many of my friends thought that way. You feel tired, you think your workout won`t be good enough, so you don`t hit the gym.
The truth is, most people —and maybe you too— are training for health, not the Olympics, so for most people —and again, you included— any exercise is better than none. I`ll say that again, any exercise is better than none. At least until you leave that couch, get dressed and hit the weights.
If you want to exercise more often, then you must remove all the obstacles that pop in your head the moment you think you should dress for the gym. And there are two keys to doing this,
A. Think any exercise is better than none
Your goal is to get dressed and go run —or hit the gym. You don`t win when you surpass your max bench, you win the moment you close the front door behind you and leave home. Does it sound average and mediocre?
Yes, it is. But it will get your butt out of the house and walk you to the gym. Once you`re there, you can play some Heavy Metal and turn Wolverine, or walk an hour on the treadmill and call it a night. What only matters is convincing your scary, procrastinating mind to exercise, even if it meant lying to yourself to get dressed.
Think long term. What 60 above-average workouts will do to your health is 10X better than what a couple of hardcore exercises done every now and then will do.
B. Take no more than five minutes to leave home.
Don`t think whether to exercise today or not, thinking is bad. If you want to give procrastination a strong kick in the back, decide when do you want to exercise, set an alarm on your phone, and once you hear it, get dressed in less than five minutes.
Talk loudly to yourself, do some pushups, or take a dirty shirt from the hamper and wear it for two minutes —I used to do that. Your state will shift and you`ll feel pumped, and in case of the dirty shirt, you`ll find yourself forced between taking a shower and going out, and you`ll choose the later.
Originally published at goodmenproject.com