If you follow my blog, you already know that exercise can dramatically improve your PCOS. The thing is, it’s difficult to develop an exercise habit. I get emails every week from hard-working, smart women who can’t seem to find lasting fitness motivation.
Today I’m going to share with you the 3-step process I use to help my clients form a workout habit that feels easy, natural and even fun. Plus, I’ve tapped into my inner high school team coach and recorded 3 pep talks to get you going!
Step 1: Say yes to the first workout
It might sound crazy, but don’t worry about being motivated. Heck, you don’t even need to worry about what type of exercise you should do! The first step to building an exercise habit is to say “yes” to that first workout now and worry about motivation later.
Step 2: Practice
After you’ve said yes to your first workout, it’s time to start practicing the habit of working out on a regular basis. You should give yourself at least two weeks to establish this habit.
Working out on a regular basis is a habit that takes time and focus to develop. If you skip the step of practicing this habit and move on to more complicated stuff like designing the perfect workout, you’d be putting the barbell before the squat or the cart before the horse.
Why not try something different and give this long-term approach a shot? Here are two easy ways to make sure the next two weeks are a success.
Schedule your workouts.
Obvious right? Scheduling time to exercise is a clear first step. Where most of us mess this up is that we set the bar too high for ourselves right away.
Have an honest conversation with yourself about how often and for how long you are willing to exercise. This goes back to that question: “What are you willing to say yes to today?” Find some weekly workouts that you feel 90% (or more) confident that you can successfully do this week. There is no wrong answer here.
Ok, now I want you to open up your calendar and look for any already fixed routines and habits in your weekly schedule. These highly routinized parts of the day are an ideal time to practice a new habit. New habits are more likely to stick around if you pair them with a habit you already have. This trick is called habit stacking, and it is AWESOME!
Make your workout rewarding today.
Most of the rewards of working out, like fat loss, happen in the long term. These benefits are entirely amazing. BUT when you are tired and pressed for time, the long-term rewards of working out can feel pretty, um, unrewarding.
Find an immediate, non-food way to reward yourself for consistently working out. There are all sorts of ways to reward yourself and one of my favorites is called temptation bundling.
Temptation Bundling is a motivational strategy that ties together two activities – one that you should do, but tend to avoid, and an activity you love to do but isn’t necessarily productive. Set a specific limit on an activity you love, aka a funtivity, by linking it to your workouts. For example, only allow yourself to listen to your favorite podcast while you’re at the gym.
I know you might be tempted to go on a Google spree to find the perfect workout program. Or maybe you’re already thumbing through the pages of a fitness magazine. It’s great that you are so enthusiastic. I love that!
But I’m here to tell you it’s time to pump the brakes. Focus all of that mojo on one thing: becoming the type of person who works out. Pour every drop of your attention and effort into this one mission: building a workout habit.
Step 3: Manufacture some fitness motivation
To be honest, the next two weeks might be harder than you anticipated. That’s because motivation is a fickle beast. But do not despair! I have a few motivation-boosting tricks that will help this exercise habit take root in your life.
Find fitness inspiration wherever you can.
Collect a few images, quotes, YouTube clips or songs (cue: Eye of the Tiger) that inspire you to pursue physical fitness. Be as creative and silly as you want! Whatever gives you a little high and makes you want to hit the gym is the perfect trigger to have on hand for when low motivation strikes. I like to pretend I’m a superhero 😉
Stop minimizing your accomplishments.
Nothing kills motivational momentum like ignoring the small wins. It will take awhile for you to see an improvement in your PCOS but that does not mean you shouldn’t celebrate all the good stuff you are doing right now!
Starting a workout habit on top of everything else you do all while managing PCOS is a HUGE step in the right direction. Honor your achievement.
Use your imagination.
There are two ways you can use your imagination to manufacture fitness motivation. Imagine the best and the worst case scenario.
If you work out today, what will that feel like? Imagine how fun it will be to do your workout to that new album you scored on iTunes. Imagine how energized you will feel and that satisfying feeling of a job well done.
Now imagine that you skip your workout. Why would you skip it? Identify the limiting factors that might get in the way of your best intentions. Now come up with a strategy to overcome that limiting factor. Cool- now you are ready to succeed in spite of adversity!
Becoming the type of woman that works out on a regular basis is not an easy feat! But if you say yes to the first workout, practice the habit of working out, and manufacture some fitness motivation, you can become the committed trainee you always wanted to be.