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The Elusive Art of Motivation

By Karin Hagberg

The Elusive Art of Motivation for Fitness.
Karin Hagberg provides great ideas for motivations for your fitness regime in this article, reproduced with permission from her book. Karin Hagberg, author, Pilates expert and teacher, works with men and women of all ages. Her oldest student is a 92 year old man. Karin has developed a Pilates program for pregnant women enabling them to keep fit safely during those very important nine months.

The Elusive Art of Motivation

Karin Hagberg

"Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going." – Jim Ryun

So why do not more people do exercise if it makes us feel better and studies shows that it improves our health and lessens the effects of aging? For most people it takes a great deal of motivation to move them out of their habits into a healthier lifestyle. Many people find themselves temporarily motivated to exercise to lose weight for a particular event, for a particular person, or due to an increased health risk factor such as high blood pressure. Unfortunately, motivation is not something that comes from the outside. If you are motivated to lose weight for a certain event, once that event is past, you will probably go back to your regular routine. The same is true if you want to lose weight to please someone else. If the motivation to exercise does not come from within, and is not for the reason of better overall health for the long term, then you are much more likely to quit. Deciding to exercise is important, but committing to it long term is what really matters.

Once you make the commitment, there are several things you can do to make it easier for you to keep that commitment. This includes having what you need and preparing in advance for your workouts. This means to plan ahead with such activities as packing your gym bag, preparing meals or snacks, and planning your day in advance. Part of creating a successful workout strategy revolves around the idea of establishing routines and habits. If you can make exercise a habit, you're that much closer to succeeding for the long term. It helps to have a regular day and time you workout so that, once that time comes, your mind and your body expect it to happen.

While it’s important to establish a routine, it’s also important to allow for some flexibility. No matter what your chosen form of exercise, there are days when you're too tired or you don't have the time. Have a goal in mind, but be willing to change it if you find you're tired that day or you have to work late. Always have a backup plan -- if you find you have to work late, see if you can fit in a quick walk at lunch, or use your breaks for some stair walking. Even a small amount of exercise is better than skipping it altogether.

Committing to better health isn’t a onetime decision, it’s a daily decision. Recommitting to your goals is necessary to keep yourself on track and it’s important to spend a few minutes each morning thinking or writing about what you want to accomplish that day. Remind yourself of what you want to achieve and take some time to appreciate how far you've come. Write down your goals and stick them in an area where you can see them every day.

There are numerous things you can do to enhance you motivation. Following are a few suggestions:

1. Convenience Counts
People often feel that exercising is inconvenient, and it can be. If you have no gyms, outdoor facilities, parks or fitness centers close to where you live. If this is your situation it might be wise to invest in home equipment such as a stationary bike or treadmill. You can also look into the various workout DVD’s that can be used in the privacy of your own home.

2. Don’t be a Superhero.
One of the biggest problems that many people face when they start an exercise program is that they try to do too much too fast. It is important to start exercising for the fitness level you are currently at and then move up as you gain strength and endurance. Doing too much too fast can result in injuries or pain that is detrimental to your goal of becoming healthier.

3. Have fun!
Many people are much more successful if they choose exercises and activities which also include some form of social interaction such as group sports like basketball or baseball. Others enjoy the classroom environment and will take dance, yoga or spinning classes. Remember that all activity counts so even if you walk around the block with co-workers during your lunch hour it still counts.

4. Movement Makes Energy.
Many people say that they feel too tired to exercise. What they don’t realize is that their sedentary lifestyle is actually the cause of their lack of energy. Even normally active people who take a few weeks off from exercise will feel more sluggish, lethargic, and unmotivated to exercise. The more you move your body, the more you will feel energized.

5. Have a Plan B.
Make sure you always have a back up plan if anything like the climate will stop you from doing your exercise. There should not be an excuse not to exercise. If you live in an area that is prone to inclement weather and like to exercise outdoors, have a backup plan on rainy days such as a workout video or trip to the gym. If you have a plan you are less likely to fall off track or get out of the habit of exercise.

"Motivation comes from within." – Unknown
Karin has 16 years experience in the health/fitness & sport profession and has taught fitness classes and personal training on the Surfcoast for the last 5 years. For more great information about Pilates check out her website at www.aspirepilates.com

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Karin Hagberg provides great ideas for motivations for your fitness regime in this article, reproduced with permission from her book. Karin Hagberg, author, Pilates expert and teacher, works with men and women of all ages. Her oldest student is a 92 year old man. Karin has developed a Pilates program for pregnant women enabling them to keep fit safely during those very important nine months.

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