The way to STAY motivated for exercise

staying motivated for exercise (1)

In the last blog we talked about how the excitement of working toward a goal can be motivating, but that it is likely temporary.  Using goal setting to get motivated just does not give you the skills to stay motivated, which leads to the common ‘all or nothing’ approach to exercise.  

The heating system in a home senses the temperature and adjusts what it’s doing to sustain a comfortable temperature inside, even as the  weather changes. It is set up to continually produce and maintain that, even as conditions change.  What makes it work is a built-in feedback loop designed to sense what is happening moment by moment.

Systems are designed for sustainability. Using a system, rather than goals to get motivated, means you will stay motivated,  even as conditions change in your life. Your feedback loop for an exercise system is mindfulness.  Present moment awareness gives you the power to sense what is happening in your mind and in your body, moment by moment. This gives you a feedback loop, so you know when you are getting off track. More importantly, the curiosity and kindness of mindfulness allow you to make the necessary adjustments so you keep getting what you really want from exercise, even when life starts to get in the way.  

Wouldn’t it be great for exercise to always leave you feeling and functioning better, now, instead of waiting until you reach your goal to feel better?  Wouldn’t it be great if you knew you were doing enough, instead of always feeling like you should be doing more?  A systems mindset lets you know how much is enough, moment by moment.   A systems mindset frees you from worrying about your ability to stick with changes, because you get the Real Results you want each time you exercise.

Even if you do have goals, things that you want to achieve with fixed endpoints, such as completing a 5K, a systems mindset will help to provide a foundation of motivation as you work toward those goals. Even more importantly, the system will be there when the goal is over, keeping you out of that all-or-noting approach to exercise.  

It is smart to wait to begin working toward a goal until the time is right. You don’t want to set yourself up for failure by working on a goal when you’re not ready.   But, when you want to feel and function better, now is a great time to start!  Remember, a system is built to adjust when outside conditions change, so you don’t have to wait until conditions are just right to start. 

You use systems all the time to keep your life functioning well.  Why not use one for  exercise, to keep you functioning well?



PS: Exercising WELL is is a coaching and membership program I designed to guide you through building your system for lasting exercise motivation.  Take advantage of the amazing introductory offer only available until January 31. For only $85 you get a coaching call with me, a 28 day online program, and personalized weekly email coaching for a month! Rates will never be this low again!  Click here for more information.

How goal setting can drain exercise motivation

Have you ever wondered why movies like Rocky, Karate Kid, A league of Their Own and Field of Dreams are timelessly popular? Why sporting events draw huge crowds and TV ratings?   We do love a good story about pushing the mind and body to it’s limit, overcoming all odds to reach a goal, don’t we? It is so exciting and inspiring!

We often connect exercise with reaching a goal, like weight loss or running a marathon.   Goal are motivating.  They make life exciting and challenge us to grow to discover new strengths.  

Even with all this inspiration from goals, somehow exercise motivation is still a struggle.  Exercising to be healthy and well is a no-brainer. Why don’t we ‘just do it’?   This is the 20 Billion dollar question! Thanks to neuroscience, we have some answers. It starts with this goals mindset. 

Goals take you from point A to point B.


With big goals, you would set smaller goals to keep you motivated along the way.   Goals are, by definition, temporary.  The sacrifices you make to get to that goal are tolerable because you know they are not forever.  You can suffer through the discomfort, knowing the celebration is coming at the end.   That grit of enduring challenges, the test of will, the digging deep for personal strength is part of the excitement.  It keeps us riveted at the movies and sitting on the edge of our seat at sporting events, and pushing ourselves until we get to our goal.

The downslide is, using goals for exercise motivation means:

  • your motivation is dependent on making progress
  • you are more likely to ignore signals from your body while pushing toward a goal
  • some other things in life get put on hold while working toward your goal
  • what you do to reach a goal, does not build the skills for lasting change
  • when the goal ends, so will your motivation

This approach can work, but it requires a lot of mental energy.  With a goals mindset, you are more likely to be an all-or-nothing type of exerciser.  This is why goal setting drains motivation in the long run.  

Is your main reason for exercising to be healthy and well for a lifetime?  If so, there is no point B.  You never want it to end.  Save goal setting for the results you want from exercise that are temporary.  For the results you want all the time, you need a different mindset, one that taps into your natural and more sustainable motivation. In the next blog, I will explain how.  



PS:  Have you had enough with being an all-or-noting exerciser?   My Exercising WELL coaching program is designed to guide and support you through shifting to a more sustainable way of exercising.  Take advantage of the amazing introductory offer only available until January 31. For only $85 you get a coaching call with me, an email-based online program, and personalized weekly email coaching! Rates will never be this low again!  Click here for more information.  

Move from struggle to success

Success with Exercise Series-2

This post is the final part of my podcast series called Rethink Exercise Success.  

Fun nature fact:  “In the tropical regions of Africa, the crocodile lies with its mouth open and the plover flies into its mouth and feeds on bits of decaying meat stuck in the crocodile’s teeth. The crocodile does not eat the plover. Instead, he appreciates the dental work. The plover eats a meal and the crocodile gets his teeth cleaned.” *

In nature this is called Mutualism. What does this have to do with exercise?

Over the past four blogs and podcasts, we have been looking at how the body works with exercise and how the brain works with motivation line up perfectly! It’s not surprising—our body is part of nature. But this ‘mutualism’ between the brain and body is too often ignored when it comes to exercise.

Let’s review what the alignment of these eight body and brain facts reveal about how to exercise to get real and lasting results:

The principle of specificity in exercise lines up perfectly with self-determination theory to remind us that when you design exercise for what you want from it, motivation will be greater because you ‘own’ what you want and what you are doing to get it.

The exercise science principle of reversibility aligns with the motivation science of the habit loop to remind us exercise cannot solely focus on what is ‘good’ for the body if we want lasting results. How the brain experiences exercise determines if exercise becomes a habit.  

The exercise principle of individuality and the neuroscience of mindful self-compassion align and remind us that when you use your Inner Trainer (TM) as your best guide, exercise is personalized and motivating each time.  

The exercise principle of progressive overload aligns with the motivation science of intrinsic rewards and reinforces the importance of using your Inner Trainer, so the results you get are rewarding in a way that is built to last.  

How do you put this into action? Check out the last part of this audio series to see how we turn these eight overlooked facts into three steps for your exercise success.





Move from faux results to real results

Click here to listen to this session

Success with Exercise Series.png

This post is part five of a series based on my new FREE audio program. 

Have you ever watched a plant grow?  Not so exciting, is it? The fact is, growth happens slowly in nature and in our bodies. Thanks to marketing, though, you might have a different impression. Time-lapsed video and before-and-after images give the illusion that change happens quickly.

The exercise science Principle of Progressive Overload says that when you:

  • challenge your body at the just-right level it can adapt to, it will get stronger
  • challenge it too much, too soon, it can’t adapt and is more likely to break down

Yet, the idea of quick results is much more marketable than this idea that change happens slowly.  In other areas of life, it is true—if you work hard, you are more likely to be successful.  Fitness marketers combine our desire for quick changes with this “work hard” mentality and come up with some pretty “insane” exercise programs. Our most popular fitness programs today, perpetuated by reality TV, reinforces this ‘work harder, get more results faster’ idea about exercise. The Principle of Progressive Overload does not stand a chance against the power of this marketing!

Well, if we are going to work harder, we are going to need some incentive. Seeing the scale go down, giving yourself a “cheat day”, winning a competition are all great ways to make you want to work harder.  External rewards like this are perfect to help you stay motivated, to ramp up your willpower, so you can get to a goal.

This is why external motivators are so luring. They work!  But they are really faux results, not the kind designed to last.

Motivation scientists tell us clearly:

  • External rewards lead to temporary motivation
  • Internal rewards lead to lasting motivation

Internal rewards are not as tangible, so they are easily missed.  When you learn how to use them, their power makes staying motivated so much easier!  Listen to part 5 of my audio series to find out how to resist that lure of quick, faux results and start using your intrinsic rewards to get real, lasting results from exercise.

In the next session, we will wrap up this series with a helpful summary of all that we have covered.



P.S. Know someone who could use this information?  Share this link with them.


Move from ‘tough love’ to Inner Trainer

Success with Exercise Series-17.png

Click here for the playlist for this podcast  

Psst! Lean in a bit…I am going to let you in on a little secret. You—yes you—have an Inner Trainer™.  This Trainer resides right inside your intelligent body and is your best and most accurate guide for exercise. It’s there 24/7 to guide you through the most personalized workout each and every time, and keep you from going astray. The bonus is that this Trainer is free, for a lifetime!

Working with a personal trainer can be helpful. But without your Inner Trainer™ working alongside you, the results are most likely to be temporary.

Why?  Because science tells us you are unique. No two bodies will respond exactly the same to the same exercise. It’s the science-based Principle of Individuality. But how often are we sold on an exercise program because it worked for someone else? Using personal success stories is a great marketing strategy, but not a way to find your own personal exercise success.

Your body is also unique moment to moment, day to day, and year to year. Only you know how your body feels moment to moment.  When working toward a temporary external goal, like winning a competition, pushing through pain and fatigue is part of the training.   Because we often equate exercise with being athletic, the tradition having someone to push you harder with some “tough love” is often seen as the best way to exercise.  But remember, athletic type goals are meant to be temporary,  and so is this type of motivation.

Your Inner Trainer™ is your most reliable source of information about what’s right for you, when you define exercise success as lasting results.  Learning to listen to and trust your body moment by moment is the only way to adjust what you do so your exercise experience is positive. Remember, a positive experience is the key to lasting habits.

This is supported by neuroscientists’ findings that when you pay attention with an open mind and an attitude of kindness, it leads to lasting motivation. It’s called mindful self-compassion and although it goes against how we have been taught to exercise, it truly works for how we are meant to exercise when we are doing it for health and wellbeing.

This is one of the most challenging approaches to put into place. However, unless you are one of those people who enjoy the “tough love” of pushing your body to work harder and look forward to doing that for the rest of your life, listen to part four of my podcast (duration: 4:21) to find how to use your Inner Trainer for easier motivation and lasting results.

Then, stay tuned for the next session to be released soon.



P.S. Know someone who could use this information? Share this link with them.