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Get Motivated to Work Out and Lose Weight

Habits of Successful People


Updated December 21, 2012

Incline Press

Incline Press

(c) Paul Rogers / Cooloola Fitness

To achieve your weight training or fitness goals, you need to do more than work out: you need to ensure consistency of workouts. Your success will be measured by how well you stick to a program schedule, whether it's self-created or under the guidance of a trainer or coach. Consistency works!

Sports psychology is about addressing the psychological component of performance for athletes. Yet, in the form of 'motivational training,' it's often under-valued for the millions of dieters, exercisers and weight trainers trying to get into shape for general health and fitness.

The two basic skills required to address fitness and weight management programs are:

  1. The ability to access reliable advice on nutrition and physical activity and exercise principles, and;
  2. The ability to put that knowledge into practise in a consistent manner until goals are achieved.

The following logical approach can help you focus on the important motivational success factor.

Change Process

Managing the change process is the secret to motivational success. You need to write down the things you're doing that are not producing the results you want. List as many as you can. Subsequently, you should write down the alternative behavior that promises that fitness, health and body you wish you had. Keep this list close by for constant reference.

Goals may vary, but successful people have a few things in common. First, they understand that to be successful, you need a logical plan with achievable objectives at stages along the way. Second, they tend to have a strong visual and emotional image of what that success will look and feel like for them. This takes organizational skills, patience, focus, determination and drive -- and some imagination.

High-achievers in many fields are naturals, yet some are also made with hard work and dedication. It is possible to learn how to implement these motivational change management skills by understanding the fundamental principles of behavioral change.

The Five Phases of Behavioral Change

Psychologists recognize five stages of change.

1. Pre-contemplation
In this early stage, a person is not aware of the need to change behavior.

2. Contemplation
In this second stage, a person reflects on the advantages and disadvantages of change. This may be the stage at which readers of this article find themselves.

3. Preparation
When "changers" reach this stage, they are in the process of preparing concrete plans for change. Signing up for gym, planning regular running or walking routes, establishing dietary plans etc.

4. Action
This is the stage at which you are fully processing your plan. As a result, your behavior is changing or has changed to achieve your goals.

5. Maintenance
This is the crucial stage at which many people fail, and for many, is the most difficult. You decide to continue the new behavior or to relapse to former behavior. Many will recognize this as the stage where it all goes wrong. You’ve put a lot of energy into getting to this point but you just cannot keep it going. You need a specific plan for this possibility as well.

Self Talk

The psychotherapists call this “cognitive therapy" or "rational emotive therapy.” It means developing a reasoning argument or a challenge for why you should think or do positive things when you instinctively want the opposite - like overeating or not exercising.

When it comes to the maintenance phase, you need tools like this to help you build a pattern of behavior and living that will gradually build stability into your new way of doing things.

Below are seven behaviors to adopt when trying to change behavior in order to build lifelong habits for health and fitness.

Plan to Achieve Your Goals

  • Consider health and fitness a lifelong project. Approach it in a similar way to buying a house, car, overseas trip or other major project: Make it a necessity.
  • Plan, plan, plan. Use diaries, logs or journals to record activities, nominate goals and track progress.
  • Include photographs, notes to yourself, motivational quotes, and poetry -- anything to keep you focused.
  • Don't over-reach. Set goals that you consider achievable. If you aim too high, disappointment can discourage you. Two pounds a week of fat loss might be an achievable goal for many people. Five pounds may not.
  • Control overeating patterns and eating behavior.
  • Reward yourself for achievement (but not with food!)
  • Practise self-monitoring (diaries and calorie counting). Ask family and friends for support.
  • Increase physical activity and exercise and set achievable goals.
  • Use mind and psychological tools (as above).

Summing Up

To get the body you want, you need to carefully assess your current situation and set goals and a time-line for success. Don't expect too much too soon or you could be discouraged when those unrealistic goals are not achieved. Be patient. An experienced personal trainer can help you do this if necessary. If you are not in a position to use a personal trainer, read as much beginner information as you can and seek advice from knowledgeable and qualified friends. Embarking on a health and fitness program with a methodical plan will increase your chances of success.


AJ Stunkard, HC Berthold. What is behavior therapy? A very short description of behavioral weight control. Am J Clin Nutr l985;4l:821-823.

Cockburn J. Adoption of evidence into practice: can change be sustainable?. MJA Vol 180, S67, 15 March 2004.

Zimmerman GL, Olsen CG, Bosworth MF. A 'stages of change' approach to helping patients change behavior. Am Fam Physician. 2000 Mar 1;61(5):1409-16.

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