fitness · motivation

New strategy: Using activity and workouts as a reward

Image description: colour cartoon style drawing of a gold star with a red, blue, and green striped trail behind it and three white four-pointed stars in the background.
Image description: colour cartoon style drawing of a gold star with a red, blue, and green striped trail behind it and three white four-pointed stars in the background.

I’ve long found it interesting that working out, something that makes me feel so good and that for so many of us falls squarely into the category of “leisure,” is so difficult to motivate ourselves to do sometimes. We complain about having no time. We gripe about the weather. We are (often legitimately) too tired. And yet on the other side of it, many of the activities we do are enjoyable additions to our lives.  Luxuries even.

I’m a big believer in strategizing ways of developing new attitudes or tricks to get me to do things that I in some larger sense want to do but for some bewildering reason also avoid or resist doing. Working out falls into that camp for me from time to time, and I’ve incorporated a number of “life hacks” to get me moving. I’ve blogged about quite a few of them: working out with friends, working out with a trainer, working with a coach.

But my latest is a really simple head game. Now, I know it’s hard to play games with yourself because you kind of know what you’re up to. But it’s working. The game: use workouts as rewards for doing other things that I’m avoiding. Imagine: the workout as a carrot not a stick.

As I mentioned the other day in my post about friends and mutual motivation, we all have things we don’t want to do. For most academics who teach, grading is that thing. And ’tis the season! I have found that I can push through a stack of papers if I know that, at the end of it, I get to go for a run or a training session or a yoga class.

We all have those things that we avoid or procrastinate over. And when we compare working out to one of those things, suddenly a 45 minute run or 60 minutes in the weight room or sweating it out in the hot yoga studio seem like the pleasures they are.

If you struggle with motivation to get your activities into your life, try treating them as rewards for completing the tasks that you tend to avoid.

Do you treat activity as a reward or a punishment? If you’re new to treating it as a reward, give it a try and let me know how it goes! So treat yourself to a workout! You deserve it.

One thought on “New strategy: Using activity and workouts as a reward

  1. Yes. I do this all the time, mostly with bike rides. But also with hot yoga. Hot yoga I think of like a movie to justify the expense!

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