Motivate Me!

Train your brain for success.

Motivate Me!
(Image credit: Ben Goldstein/Studio D)

If you say, "I will not suffer in the gym today," your mind will register the word "suffer" and do its best to create situations of suffering.

Instead, you can say, "I am strong and capable of a kick-ass workout today."

You should never exercise intensely for more than two hours at a time. When you hear some buff celebrity talking about how he trained six hours a day to get ready for his latest action movie, he's talking a load of embellished bull that makes the ordinary person feel totally inferior and hopelessly inadequate. Given hectic shooting schedules, spending that much time working out would actually be counterproductive, as it would throw the body into a state of over-training and make it more prone to metabolize its own lean muscle tissue for energy.

Consistency is the single most important thing you can bring to the table to ensure that you get the results you want. If you're not consistent, you will always be playing catch-up, and you will at best make gradual progress rather than getting your body in gear and maximizing your success.

Junk thoughts drain your energy and interfere with weight loss (and nearly everything else). Focus your thinking with these five strategies:

1. Figure Out What You Want

Most people have no idea what they're capable of, so they create goals that are so vague—like "I want to lose weight"—that they don't know where to begin. "I want to lose 5 pounds by next month so I can fit into last year's ski pants and spend the money on a snowboarding lesson instead"—that's a goal. Log yours weekly.

2. Figure Out Why You Haven't Gotten What You Want Yet

To harness your power and get what you want, you need to take responsibility. Look at your choices and ask how they have brought you to where you are—for better or worse. Responsibility means not blaming anyone or anything (e.g., "My job is making me fat") for your situation. And it means controlling your reactions to situations, people, and events in order to shape the best possible outcome. It is your choice whether or not you let someone's criticism affect you. An exasperating meeting doesn't have to send you on an ice-cream binge. You didn't deserve the negativity, but you also don't deserve to let that keep you from your vision. Every day, acknowledge what your excuses are. Then stop using them.

3. Listen to What You're Saying

Every fifth minute of your cardio workout, ask yourself what's going through your mind. Most people are constantly making judgments (e.g., "You'll never finish all 30 minutes because you are too lazy/heavy/ate cake this afternoon") that they learned from parents, teachers, friends, or painful experiences. They're not all bad; these thoughts give you insight into the underlying issues that perpetuate your problems. But don't give in to them, or they'll sabotage you. Thoughts are "things" that possess the power to affect your behavior. If you think you can't do 30 minutes of cardio, you're probably right. The mental game during each workout is to catch yourself in a negative thought and replace it with something else, such as, "This is making me stronger." Rehearsing this at the gym helps you power through the rest of the day as well.

4. Get Organized

This isn't about becoming neater; it's about managing your energy. If you're disorganized, you can't take advantage of today's opportunities. So ask yourself what being disorganized is costing you in terms of achievement, work, health, and relationships. Think about what your clutter says about you. For example, your kitchen can be a reflection of whether or not you are giving proper attention to your own nourishment.

5. Quit Any Time

You can stop the workout or eat chocolate all day, but you won't get the benefits. So when you're pushing against a boundary and it feels really uncomfortable—like when you're not sure you can lift a weight one more time and the fear is making you weak— you have a choice. Quit like you did the other times and stay where you are, or keep moving toward what you want . . . and get it.