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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    How can I motivate myself to go to the gym more than once a week?

    I am on the plump side of things and want to get a bit slimmer /healthier.

    Have maintained a gym visit once a week, but feel I need more to achieve any weight loss.

    How can I motivate myself with such a busy life?
  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • 17


    Stuart Donaldson

    Exercise Physiologist

    Accredited Exercise Physiologist with ESSA providing services to clients in the Hervey Bay region, including entitled DVA clients (Entitled Department of Veterans' Affairs clients may … View Profile

    A fantastic question and issue that many people face when trying to lose weight. The techniques I use to motivate clients include:
    1. Set a goal. If you are currently attending once per week, aim to attend 2 next week, then build that to 3-4 and so on. Give yourself a reward if you achieve your goal at the end of a month (treat yourself to a film at the cinemas, or something that is meaningful for you). This way you have some other motivation to attend.
    2. Set an appointment with yourself. If you set a doctors appointment or an important work meeting you wouldn't miss it. So set an appointment with yourself at the gym, and don't miss it.
    3. Get your exercise gear ready the night before. Set out your exercise clothes the night before and ensure you exercise the next day. If you struggle for motivation at the end of the day, exercise in the morning. That way, it is done for the day.
    4. Break it up throughout the day. Do 15 minutes in the morning, 15 at lunch, and 15 in the afternoon. It's easier to find 15 minutes at a time than 45 minutes. Go for a short walk, do some squats or pushups or lunges a few times a day.
    5. If you are really struggling for motivation on a day, then put on your exercise clothes, go to the gym, and if you really still don't feel like exercising, then go home. Almost all of the time, you will actually work out as you have made all the effor to get there.

  • 1



    Wonderful advice! Thank you :)

  • 13


    Dr George Blair-West is a psychiatrist in private practice in Brisbane. He is semi-retired and no longer taking new patients as he has a large … View Profile


    The problem here is that motivation is a more complex animal than most people appreciate. Mr Donaldson’s advice is sound and is the first step in motivating yourself. If these strategies do not work for you then you may need to go deeper into your mind. 

    The first thing to realise about motivation is that it is not a single force. Motivation has a yin and a yang - it is a tug of war between two opposing forces - your conscious desire, in this case to go to the gym, and your resistance. Resistance can take a couple of forms. First, we can have competing desires like wanting to catch up with a friend (or stay in bed and snooze), that win out over the motivation to go to the gym. Second, we have unconscious resistance. A good example is an unconscious fear that if we slim down our life will change in a negative direction. Common issues my patients bring up in this regard, are fears of unwanted attention from the opposite sex, or other women becoming jealous and spiteful – there are many more consequences – indeed this can be a rather long list. 
    As you can see ‘motivation’ is not quite as simple as we might like it to be. Given that all personal growth and change is built on motivation, we need to take the time to understand it and harness it. Actually, the first step is to address your mindset – because this is what our motivation is built on.

    Then you need to think about why do you want to go to the gym? It sounds like you're doing it primarily to try and lose weight. Unfortunately, this is much, much less effective than managing your energy intake. I have written about this research at length in books and articles – perhaps the best article is this one.
    As a psychiatrist, while I would like to suggest you consult a member of my profession, the reality is that few of my colleagues share my interest in this space so you’re better off finding a nearby psychologist with an interest in motivation.

    All the best.
    Dr George

  • 5


    Karen Amos

    Counsellor, Personal Trainer

    Walk and Talk is just what you need to begin living a life that you love. I'm Karen Amos and at Walk and Talk Australia … View Profile

    Hi there and thank you for a question that applies to so many people.  

    As a personal trainer, I am often asked (and paid to) motivate my clients.  I hear the words “You motivate me just by turning up!” a lot!  And there is nothing at all wrong with being there to motivate my clients as they move towards a more active life.  But another aspect of my role as a motivator is to help my people to create momentum.

    Momentum happens when we create a baseline of what it is we want to do.  So, for example, my personal fitness baseline is 3 times per week doing some intentional exercise.  But it hasn't always been 3.  It started right where you are - at 1.  And then it gradually went to 2, then 3 and then even 4!  But here I realised that it was too hard to maintain and even unnecessary when it related to my goal.

    So take on board Stuart and Dr George's tips, but also think about the baseline you would like to create.  And if you want to shake it up, just add one.  I also particularly love Stuart's advice to go home if you don't feel up to it.  Give yourself permission to be human and enjoy movement.

    Kindly - Kaz Amos

  • 3


    Kristen Ross

    Counsellor, Kinesiologist

    Kristen Ross is a qualified Kinesiologist, Counsellor and Sports Therapist.Affinity Wellness is her holistic wellness practice offering a holistic wellness experience by focusing on all … View Profile

    What is it about the gym that you find so uninspiring? The problem may not be your busy lifestyle, it may be that you have not chosen the right activity to motivate you. 
    The gym concept was created for body builders, if you're not a body builder then you might want to reconsider how useful it will be for you.

    What types of activities do you enjoy doing? What makes you feel good? There are numerous other options for exercise that you may not be considering.

    I do a lot of goal setting work with clients and what I know is that when goal based activites are not satisfying then motivation wanes and the goals are rarely reached. 

    Have you considered other enjoyable physical activities that might help you acheive the same goal such as dance, team based sports, yoga, walking, martial arts? Make a list of activities you enjoy and mix it up a bit. You don't have to do the same routine every day / week / month. 

    Exercise aside … If you really want to acheive a goal of being slimmer and healthier your diet will need to be addressed first and foremost. If you haven't already, start with assessing your sugar intake and go from there. 

    Remember, motivation will come when you enjoy the process.  

    Best wishes, 

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