How to Have a Positive Mindset about Working Out
The saying that nothing worth having comes easy is extremely accurate when it comes to working out. Low-intensity exercises like walking for at least 30 minutes every day, or physical activity like doing chores around the house, can help improve your general health. However, if you want to add muscle or burn off unwanted fat, or otherwise change your body, you will have to exercise for it. Developing and maintaining a positive mindset about exercise and how it can benefit your body is key to the long-term success of a workout program.
Mindset is key to success
Mindset refers to your mental attitude or overall state of mind. One way to identify your personal mindset is to answer the old question of how you look at a glass of water: is it half-full or half-empty?
Those who answer that the glass is half empty are said to be pessimistic with a negative mindset of how they view the world. An optimist is someone who looks at a glass as half-full, which is indicative of a positive mindset.
When it comes to exercise, a pessimist will look at the amount of effort it takes to reach a goal and think that the outcome is not worth the sacrifice. The pessimistic mindset goes: “Exercise is hard and while I want the outcome, I’m not able to do the work to achieve it.”
Meanwhile, an optimist will look at an exercise-related goal and see it as an opportunity for self-improvement: “If I can commit to a workout program and make certain changes to my diet, then I know I can reach my goal.”
Here’s the good news, it is possible to change your mindset, so that you can learn how not to quit an exercise program and stay committed to your goals. Here are a few suggestions for how you can change your mindset about exercise.
Set small goals
One common mistake when starting an exercise program is setting too big a goal. Having a big goal like losing 15 kilos of body weight can be motivating, but if you don’t see changes happening quickly enough, you can easily turn pessimistic and think that exercise is not worth it.
Instead, set small goals that work towards a bigger goal. For example, set a goal of losing 1 kilo every week. It may seem small, but if you hit this goal correctly, then you will see progress. After about four months of consistent efforts, you will reach your goal of 15 kilos.
Track how exercise makes you feel
Exercise stimulates the production of the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine. These chemicals promote positive feelings and are responsible for the post-exercise feeling, often described as a “high”.
After you finish exercising, write down the positive feelings that you get from working out. When you start to think that exercise might not be worth the effort, review the notes, be reminded of your positive feelings and before you know it, you’ll be knocking out another workout.
Exercise for 10 minutes at a time
Exercise provides the greatest benefits when it is performed consistently over a long period of time. It may seem like an overwhelming amount of time. However, you do not need to do a lot of strenuous exercises to achieve health benefits.
You can also break it up into smaller chunks of time: moving consistently for 10 minutes in the morning, 10 minutes during mid-day, and 10 minutes at night allows you to accumulate the 30 minutes of activity required for the day.
Committing to 10 minutes of activity at a time throughout your day and week will literally move you into better health. Plus, it will help you establish the belief that exercise is indeed something that you can do, leading to a positive, can-do attitude.
Exercise strengthens your brain
If gaining muscle or a perfectly toned body is not your interest, you may not want to exercise. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is a protein produced in the brain that helps to create new brain cells and enhances brain function. Exercise, especially ones that make you breathe harder, can increase BDNF levels in your brain. This means that working out could actually make you smarter. If you believe exercise can help improve your brain function, you may be motivated to start a fitness program.
Exercise can change how you age
Exercise can extend your lifespan, allowing you to live a longer, healthier and more productive life. Vigorous exercise can elevate levels of hormones like testosterone (T) and insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1). These hormones promote muscle growth, even in older adults, thereby slowing down the effects of aging. Controlling how the passage of time affects your body, could be a great long-term motivation to exercise.
Also read: Why Is It Important to Have a Fitness Plan?
Focusing on the health benefits of exercise can help you develop a positive mindset to stay consistent with a fitness program. Extrinsic, superficial benefits of exercise like building muscle or looking a certain way could set you up for failure because it is easy to quit if you don’t see the changes. Looking at the long-term benefits and trying to achieve them through smaller goals, can change your mindset, so that exercise becomes something you enjoy and look forward to doing.