A personal trainer girlfriend of mine, still going strong in her seventh month of pregnancy, dropped off her three-year old at my house today so that she and my daughter could chase each other around for a few hours. The chase (and the girly screams of delight) began as soon as they saw each other. With the girls occupied, I stepped outside to chat for a second with my friend before she headed back home for some much-deserved rest. I watched her survey my front yard. This friend’s own front yard is immaculate. She is “one of those” who gives names to her plants. With her storybook flower garden that attracts all sorts of butterflies, I was embarrassed to see her eyes stop at the two-and-a-half foot weeds shooting up all over my yard. These weeds were like a magnet for her. Almost unconsciously, she reached down, gave a hearty tug, and pulled a weed out by its roots. She said that she is drawn to weeds and, when on neighborhood walks with her husband, he has had to physically restrain her from picking neighbors’ weeds because it is such a satisfying feeling to her to rip one up from its roots.
Weeds or eyebrows, each one of us ladies probably has something that gives her a sense of satisfaction. Exercising is another area where I can feel that same sense of satisfaction, but I know that is not the case for some people who dread working out. Knowing myself, I know that I absolutely would not exercise if I did not intrinsically enjoy doing it. So, if working out is something that you abhor doing, how can you make yourself do it? I stumbled across (or, better, I “Googled” across) an exercise psychology book that can be found at the link listed below. Page 148 discusses this topic and gives good, doable tips on how to make something, like exercise, intrinsically motivating if it is not naturally intrinsically motivating to you. Previous pages told of studies that found that extrinsic motivators (money, etc.) are not effective long term, so the discussion turned to using intrinsic motivators instead. Here are my favorites and applications of each:
- Provide for successful experiences: Whatever you are doing, from walking to jogging to lifting weights, set yourself up for success by making your goals attainable. If you don’t know what goals to set for yourself, do some research online or talk to a trainer at a gym.
- Give rewards contingent on performance: If you attain your goal, reward yourself. For instance, if you run the mile in your pre-set amount of time, allow yourself to walk for three minutes or to decrease the incline (or to visit the Chick Fil-A drive thru on the way home).
- Use verbal and non-verbal praise: Share your goal with a spouse or a friend and let him know that you will keep him posted on your success so that he can give you praise.
- Vary content and sequence of drills: Basically, don’t do the same form of exercise every day, or it will get monotonous. Don’t be afraid to change it up.
So, while exercising is already intrinsically motivating to me, weed pulling is not. I think I’ll try the “rewards contingent on performance” tip and promise myself a #7 from Chick Fil-A if I de-weed in the morning!