HACK YOUR FITNESS

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HOW TO GET IN SHAPE WITHOUT TRYING TO GET IN SHAPE

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Well here you are, again. Reading another fitness and workout article. Right?! Well, maybe not just another one. If you’re looking for some tips on stretching technique, sets and reps, shoes and pre workout drinks, then there are a bazillion other articles out there already. I have a sneaking suspicion, however, that’s not what you need. People aren’t out of shape and overweight for lack of knowing the How To. If it were all about information, the whole world would have six pack abs and be driving Lamborghin’s. There might actually be too much of the “how to” out there. So much so, people get stuck in what’s called analysis paralysis. Basically, by talking and reading about a new workout routine, you feel like you’re making progress, albeit a small step, but it’s something. Purchasing new workout gear is another small step, yet you’ve yet to burn one calorie other than hitting the mall. Planning a route for a morning jog (someday) and discussing techniques with coworkers puts you out a little further and it almost feels like you’re part of the running community. Guess what…you’re paralyzed in the planning part and don’t even know that you’re doing it. The good news is, once you know what’s up it becomes harder for you to continue doing it. Turning on the lights makes the boogeyman disappear. Same thing here. Now you can think of how absurd you’ve been without even doing one morning workout. Knowing this, next time you decide to buy new running shoes, you’ll laugh and shrug and maybe you’ll get out the actual physical door and do something about it.

Now that we got that part out of the way and you know you don’t need any more planning, time for the hack…the why. Generally, we all have one of a handful of common Why’s: to get in shape, to look better, to feel better, and to get healthier. This is all well and good and are very attainable goals, if you had the right mindset going in. The issue nowadays is we live in a society of instant gratification and constant and repeated dopamine hits from our mobile devices and social media and we can order something online with two day shipping. With goals that are off in the distant future, say a few months to lose 25 pounds, the payoff is so far out that in the moment of sweating on the whirling treadmill, it seems like it’s not worth it and the gains aren’t coming. Maybe i’m doing something wrong” you might say, and give up, again.
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Insert life hack here: We are going to keep the goal of getting shape and looking better, but we are going to put it on a shelf for now. It’s still there, and it’ll happen…this time. Think of it as our secret goal that we don’t talk about or think too much of. The new goal isn’t to fixate on getting fit. This will happen as an effect of what you’re about to set in motion. This is where the brain reward cascade comes in. Other than sweaty forehead and shaky legs, what else do we get once we have accomplished a workout? The physical effects right after a workout are, for the most part, negative to be brutally honest. But, have you ever paused to think how good you actually felt inside afterward? Exercise actually releases a pharmacy of endorphins in the brain that both make pain feelings lessen and make good feelings increase in a big way. These endorphins are a type of neurotransmitter, basically little packets of chemicals that have a certain effect on the brain. The three major ones related to our workout are serotonin, noradrenaline, and the big one…dopamine. These are what we are after from our workouts now. And you get them each and every time.

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This feeling would have carried on through to later in the day, and odds are you had a pretty fantastic day because of your 5 min treadmill investment. You probably crushed it at that morning meeting at work that day. You more than likely chatted to the cashier at the grocery store a little more, maybe complimented them on the great job they’re doing (insert ripple effect here of you influencing others). This is your new goal: that feeling. Boom…instant gratification. And the good part, it happens every time! Get sweating, and the side effect is that your brain gives you this reward.

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This is what we’re after…not losing 15 pounds before your next trip to Cancun. Not fitting into the wedding dress you bought 2 sizes small in hopes of pulling it off. These nuggets of goodness will come, mark my words. But they will only come with consistency. This all happens by making the results you’re looking for the secondary goal. The primary goal has now become how that workout made you feel that way. And THIS is what you’re going to talk about around the water cooler at work. This is what you’re going to reward yourself for after you’ve done it for five of seven days this week. This is the hack and it’ll work.

Soon enough, you’ll start noticing the secondary goals start to take shape. At this point, you’ve reached the level that the hack may no longer be needed and you can readjust your goals and maybe start looking at that 5K run coming next month in your city, or that dress you saw online, but just couldn’t imagine. Well, now, after you’ve got the momentum going, shoot the lights out and see where your potential can take you. You’re limitless other than what’s going on inside your head. Start there and you’ll build a better base for when times get a little tougher.

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