In 2011, researchers decided to figure out which motivational factors led people to exercise more – or less – often. The assumption that people just need more time or desire to work out turned out to be false. The leading predictor of whether study participants exercised turned out to be their perception of convenience.
Convenience trumped every other factor in the study, from desire for better health to guilt and shame over failure. If you want to motivate yourself to work out regularly, make it more convenient for yourself. Yes, this sounds like a time issue, but it’s so much more than that. Your perception of convenience is not linked only to the actual amount of time you set aside for exercise, but also to how easily those scheduled blocks of time fit into your current lifestyle and routine.
For instance, analyze your choice of gym. Did you sign up for the newest, fanciest gym? Is it located across town? You will probably go the the gym more often if you choose one close to your house, because convenience is more motivating than expensive equipment or pleasing décor.
Keep exercise equipment in your car and office. Maybe you don’t have time to get to the gym every day. But everyone has five or ten minutes for bicep curls on their work break – so keep a set of dumbbells in the office. Perhaps you don’t have time to drive to the gym, change into workout clothes, and use the elliptical machine for an hour. But if you have walking shoes in your car, you can take a 20-minute walk on your lunch break.
Convenience as a motivating factor can be applied to your diet, too. Why else do you think people commonly hit up fast food drive-throughs on their way home from work? Make healthy food more convenient, and you’ll be much more likely to stick with your goals. Stock your office and car with individual serving bags of almonds, fresh fruit, or any other snacks that support your healthy eating goals. When you plan meals, choose recipes that are easy to prepare on weeknights, and make double portions so that you can simply re-heat leftovers on busier evenings.
You can apply this trick to your diet and exercise habits in multiple ways. Get creative, and keep convenience in mind at all times, and you can find your motivation to keep working toward your weight loss goals.