Psych Up & Slim Down!

Zumba Outdoor Class

When your life is hectic with work, family and a busy social scene, it can be really hard to keep your mojo high when it comes to keeping fit. Don’t despair! Keep your body bikini-ready with these scientifically proven motivational tricks.

Make It Personal

The critical factor to keep going with a long-term exercise routine is what researchers call, “intrinsic motivation.” The essence of this is that you work out regularly purely because you want to and it’s something that you enjoy, as opposed to “extrinsic motivation” where you have outside goals, such as losing weight where exercising becomes a chore that you resent.

The key to success is finding out what works for you. Try using all the different machines at the gym to see which is most fun, and check out some new classes, too. Research shows that you’re much more likely to stick to a program if it involves learning a new skill so why not try a dance class like Zumba, or a martial arts course?

Time It Right

Everyone’s metabolism works slightly differently. Some of us find it easier to exercise in the morning when we’re fresh, while others prefer to wind down after work with a stress-busting session at the gym.

Take a scientific approach to this: write down the date, time and type of exercise you did. Now place a star next to the sessions where you felt really good and an ‘X’ next to those where you wished you’d stayed on the sofa. Adjust your exercise schedule accordingly.

Add some extra motivation by writing down adjectives that describe just how great you felt after each session; ‘invincible’, ‘pumped up’, ‘gorgeous’, etc. and read them daily – works like magic!

Woman Working Out with Music 2

Pump Up The Right Tunes

Music is an effective tool for really getting you in the right mindset for exercise and many sports coaches and therapists swear by it.

The most effective motivational tracks are those that you associate most closely with exercise and it’s really just a matter of personal taste. Choose something with a tempo that’s a couple of beats above your comfort zone to give you an extra kick.

Try downloading the app, which matches tracks from your iPod music library to your running speed.

Make A Contract

Even the most dedicated gym bunnies struggle with motivation from time to time. Most of us would rather have a lie-in on a wet, miserable Sunday morning than go for a jog in the rain and when lethargy strikes; it’s time to turn to external incentives. Simply put, this means putting your hard-earned cash on the line, Cougars!

Register your goal and credit card details at If you don’t stick to your predetermined number of workouts, the charity of your choice gets a donation, courtesy of you. This can be especially effective if you set your account up to donate money to a cause you don’t really like. If you’re a dedicated Republican, set your account to donate to a Democrat group (or vice versa!) and get ready to feel the burn!

Line Up Some Back-Up

Another proven psychological factor that affects your drive to work out is your friends. In a recent survey by 24 Hour Fitness, 80% of those questioned said they’d be much more likely to stick to workouts if they exercised with friends. Most of those who enter charity fun runs and similar events with friends say that they felt as though successful completion was a shared triumph and that they felt invested in it and that consequently they were much more likely to sign up to do another.

Try these ideas: put exercise dates in your diary with a friend, including penalties for skiving (you buy her lunch, she pays for the cinema). Or how about a variation on the office sweepstakes? Everyone puts $10 in the pot and whoever logs the most workouts over an agreed upon time period wins the pot. Not only will you be fitter and leaner, you’ll be top of the popularity stakes too!

What great strategies do other Thriving Cougars use when motivation starts to wane? Share your experiences and tips with us!

By Alison Page

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