It’s no secret that I have struggled to exercise consistently since my kids were born (read: Fall Off Exercise Wagon. Get Back On. Repeat.). I recently heard about this clever mind game that my friend and fellow dietitian Danielle Omar uses on herself to boost motivation to exercise (or eat healthy), and I asked her to share it with you. I’ve sung Danielle’s praises before on this blog. She does a 21-day clean eating program called Nourish that I’ve done twice and highly recommend (read about my experience: I Tried A 21-Day Cleanse ). Trust me when I say that Danielle will change the way you eat and the way you think about food! Her next Nourish program starts Monday January 18. Go here for the all the details and to register.
How to Boost Motivation with One Simple Trick
By Danielle Omar, MS, RD
Back in the day when I was a gym nutritionist, we dreaded the annual New Year rush. It was like clockwork. Beginning the first week in January, the gym was jam packed full of people. Every machine taken. Never any clean towels. Exercise classes filled to capacity. Business was good for us, but it came with a price. It meant late nights, back to back appointments, and a PBJ sandwich for dinner. It would stay this way for a few weeks straight and then the die-off would start. Every two weeks, gym traffic would decrease by 50% until the “Resolutioners” whittled away. By Super Bowl Sunday, things would be somewhat back to normal. Of course my clients and those working with trainers kept up the good fight, but everyone else? Not so much.
I think what happens is that for one reason or another, motivation tanks. The reason you’ve been getting up early to exercise or taking your gym bag to work becomes less and less clear and eventually you just stop going altogether. I can relate to this. I’m sure you can, too. That morning run isn’t very appealing in the freezing cold of February.
But what if you could trick your mind into thinking that a 6am boxing class was exactly what you wanted to be doing?
I’ve got a strategy that works for me when motivation to exercise just isn’t there. It actually works for many things, but it’s especially good for exercise. I call it getting into my “peak state” of mind. What it means is that I’m accessing all of those good feelings I get while doing a task. In this case, it’s exercise.
For exercise, my peak state is the feeling I have when I’m in the middle of a run. Running is my alone time. I’m able to think clearly and solve problems without distraction. I get clarity. I also achieve a peak state at the end of a restorative yoga class. It’s a feeling of accomplishment and peace that I don’t get from anything else.
The trick is to find a way to access these good feelings as a motivator. When I can do that, it tricks my mind into thinking that it’s actually in the peak state. I mostly do this with music. If I’m really lacking the motivation to run, I turn on my running playlist. The songs immediately take my mind to my running peak state. It’s kind of like when you’re driving by a restaurant and you smell food and then all of a sudden you’re hungry? Hearing my running music makes me want nothing more than to be outside running!
I can do it with smells, too. By lighting incense or diffusing oils that remind me of yoga class, it makes me crave that feeling of peace and accomplishment. By getting into your peak state, you remind your brain that you really want to do that thing you’ve been avoiding.
When I’m feeling off-track with my diet or I’m in rut with meal planning, I’ll actually use food to get to my peak state. There’s one particular green smoothie I make that as soon as I take the first sip, it takes me straight there. It’s a peppery blend of arugula, lemon, mint, pineapple and apple. It’s so green and fresh, I just love it. I can sometimes achieve a peak state just thinking about having that smoothie, which sends me straight to the grocery store to stock my fridge with greens!
You can use this technique to get anything done, whether it’s cleaning house, taking time out for self-care, getting motivated to cook dinner, or just feeling good about yourself.
Danielle Omar is a Registered Dietitian, Nutrition Consultant, and Founder of Danielle Omar Nutrition, where men and women find the path to confidently manage their health and how they eat. She is the author of Skinny Juices: 101 Juice Recipes For Detox and Weight Loss.
Danielle’s next 21-day Nourish program starts Monday January 18. You can choose from three different paths–Healthy Weight, Detox, and Digestive–and you’ll get recipes, meal plans, and 24/7 support. Go here to learn more and register.