When it comes to fitness motivation, it would be easy to think that any motivation is good, but there are some reasons which are totally wrong and will harm your workout far more than they will help.
Before you embark on any fitness regime, think about your reasons for doing so, and if they are included in our list of ‘must-nots’, read on to find out how you can turn that destructive rationale into one which will keep you going back for more.
With just a change of mindset, you can turn even the worst reason for exercise into a great motivator which will keep you heading back to the gym again and again.
1. If Your Only Motivation is ‘Losing Weight’
At first glance, exercising to drop a few dress sizes might seem like the perfect reason to work out, but look at it a little more closely. Suppose, after a few months, you do reach your goal and fit into those skinny jeans. Then what? If your only motivation for exercising was to reach a certain dress size, once you attain that goal, there’s no motivation to keep going.
Of course, once you stop going there’s a good chance that the weight will go back on, and you’ll be caught in a destructive cycle of yo-yoing weight, which will do neither your health nor your self-esteem any good.
Being fixed on a certain size is a short-term aim with a definite end, and leaves you nowhere to go in terms of keeping fit and healthy.
Forget your weight or your size and exercise for the health benefits. Working out isn’t just for overweight people – no matter how big or small we are, we all need to exercise. Weight loss comes about when we eat less and exercise more, so yes…losing weight will be a by-product of a regular fitness regime, but more importantly, you will be looking after yourself inside and out.
By choosing a routine that you enjoy, you will be much more likely to stick to it long after you have lost the initial weight, so mix it up and find something which you look forward to doing, for your overall health.
(Read this: Workout Motivation: 10 Scientific-Backed Methods to Stay Motivated)
2. To Make Up for Having a Blow-Out
It’s an all-too-familiar feeling, waking up the morning after the night before and feeling bloated and guilty for having eaten and drunk too much the previous evening. But, you can always head to the gym and burn it off with a grueling workout instead, can’t you? Actually, no, that would be a bad idea.
Using exercise as a punishment is a surefire way to make you view it in a negative light, and will make you far less inclined to exercise on your good days. In fact, exercise should be a regular part of your life through the ‘good’ times as well as the ‘bad’.
We’re wired to avoid negative consequences at all costs, and this pattern of behavior will not only make you want to stay away from exercise altogether, but it could also lead you down a slippery slope of eating disorders by giving you an unhealthy solution to binge eating.
See exercise for the enjoyable activity that it is. Yes, it will counteract some of the damage done by indulging occasionally, but more importantly, it will keep you fitter, stronger, and healthier, and when you are in better condition, you can have the occasional ‘bad night’ without giving the after-effects a second thought.
By viewing working out as a punishment, you miss out on the endorphins and feel-good factor which exercise can give you, which is better than any night on the town.
3. To Make Up For an Unhealthy Lifestyle
You might be fooled into thinking that everyone who hits the gym or the track regularly leads a super healthy lifestyle, but as the saying goes ‘all that glitters isn’t gold’. If you were to look at the habits of some of those people, you’d probably find smokers, drinkers, and those who eat nothing but junk food.
Exercising to mitigate unhealthy habits is a road to disaster, and while it’s better than nothing, it doesn’t diminish the effects of their other choices.
- Smoking can make the blood ‘sticky’, meaning it can’t flow easily to the heart. This, in turn, makes working out harder. It can also increase your resting heart rate, pushing your active heart rate to dangerous levels when exercising.
- Drinking alcohol leads to dehydration, and when you exercise you lose even more water through sweating. Combine the two and you could become dangerously dehydrated, causing heat exhaustion, fainting, and if it is chronic, kidney damage.
- Eating just 3 pieces of KFC chicken would need around 75 minutes of exercise to burn the calories, while a large fries adds a further 48 minutes. That’s around two hours of working out just to counteract the effects of one meal.
As you can see, exercise will be far more effective if it is combined with other healthy-living choices. Use it as a way to supplement your lifestyle, not to make up for it, and when you do occasionally indulge, you will be able to thoroughly enjoy it without feeling guilty.
4. As a Pick-Me-Up After a Sleepless Night
Tiredness is a signal that something is wrong, and exercising when your body is crying out for rest is a recipe for disaster. Sure, going for a run or an intense workout will invigorate you, and it’s fine on the odd occasion, but if you continuously ignore your body’s plea for rest, you’re heading for trouble.
Overtraining and under-sleeping can cause muscles to break down and lead to weakness, which in turn can cause a whole host of injuries.
Using exercise as part of a healthy lifestyle can improve the quality of your sleep, which may sound counterintuitive given what I have just said, but that can only work in conjunction with listening to what your body is telling you.
There’s no doubt that regular exercise pays dividends when it comes to bedtime, but if you are bone-tired and have no energy, a day off from the gym will work wonders.
5. As an Avoidance Tactic
People use all sorts of things to avoid problems in their lives – alcohol, unhealthy foods, and drugs, for instance. But they can also use exercise in the same way, literally running away from the stresses and strains.
But like alcohol, exercise is only a temporary fix which merely delays the inevitable – the same problems are still going to be there once you’re back home.
That’s not to say that exercise isn’t a great stress-reliever, because it’s actually one of the best, but it needs to be used in the right way.
Because exercise is so good at relieving stress, it’s a great opportunity for clearing the head and being able to see things in a more level-headed way. Go for a run or hit the gym and use that time for some clear thinking; the chances are you will be able to come up with a way to tackle whatever the issue is.
For every bad motivation for exercise, there are many ways to turn it around to be a good incentive, and sometimes all it takes is a tweak of your mindset. Spend a few minutes examining your own reasons for working out, change them accordingly, and then enjoy all the benefits that exercise can bring.
More on Motivation:
- 42 Motivational Quotes to Help You Get in Shape
- 30 Day Positive Affirmation Challenge
- 8 Rituals to Cultivating True Self-Motivation That Lasts
- 16 Best Motivational Speeches of All-Time
- 55 Motivational Quotes That Can Change Your Life
- Intrinsic Motivation and How to Use It to Get What You Want
- Monday Motivation Habits for a Successful Week
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