The Psychology Of Fitness

Mindsets, Body Types and Everything In Between
Ever Complain that You Need to Lose Weight, But Don’t Workout? Here’s Why, pt 2.

Ever Complain that You Need to Lose Weight, But Don’t Workout? Here’s Why, pt 2.

Yesterday I spoke about 4 different reasons why people complain about needing to lose weight, yet don’t go to the gym or eat healthy.  Today, I’ll talk about 3 other factors that play an important part in the equation of why people may or may not workout. 

First a re-cap of the first 4 factors:
1-The person is overwhelmed with the amount of information on health, fitness, supplements, etc and this causes the person to fall back into delaying making a decision. 
2 – Once that person makes a decision, he or she makes it so complicated that after a week or two, they once again feel overwhelmed and fall back into the status quo – which is their old habits.
3 – The person’s beliefs about exercise influence their desire to exercise.  If one person believes that, “Sweating is disgusting,” they are less likely to stick to a workout routine.  There are countless beliefs that people hold that can hold them back from exercising, although they know “they should.”
4 – People’s individual habits.  If you practiced for a sport every day in high school for 2 hours a day, picked up working out in college in place of those practice hours, and finally continued to work out after college, it will be much easier to figure out a way to plan it in your day than if you’ve never worked out.  Many people become (again) overwhelmed with the amount of decisions they think they have to make when starting a new habit, that they forget to focus on what’s important – like when can they actually fit in the time to work out.   You can read yesterday’s post here

So in addition to those 4 factors, you also have your environment.

Some environments help people get in some "exercise"

In my previous example of the single mother with 3 children, she has a work place environment that allows for an hour lunch.  This combined with a gym close-by, give her an opportunity to work out while at work.  If another woman, with the same desire to work out and in similar circumstances,  had a work place that only gave her a half hour for lunch, she would find it much harder to work out consistently. Her problem isn’t that she has too many choices or that she’s making things too complicated.  It’s not that her beliefs are holding her back or even her habits.  In this case, it truly is her environment that is causing her to “not have any time to work out.”  Although there are ways around this, it definitely makes things more “complicated” and if you haven’t picked up on it yet, more “complicated” leads back to the person’s old habits. 

All three of these aspects (beliefs, habits and environment) are intertwined. Combine those three aspects along with the overflow of information about health, fitness, nutrition and supplementation and it’s no wonder that people find it hard to add the requisite habits of working out consistently and eating healthier to their lives as they should.

If you’re human though (and I really hope you are), there two other factors that I have rarely talked about, but are definitely obvious factors in this whole equation – They are your energy levels and your motivation.

These two are highly interrelated, yet still separate entities. Let me explain.  Say you’re the woman who goes to the gym on her lunch break. Last night though, you were up all night because your daughter was sick. Getting to the gym this afternoon will be much harder because you lack energy – energy levels will effect your motivation. You see this as a one-time event though and decide to go to the gym anyway. You don’t push yourself as hard, but you’re still glad you went.

On the other hand, take the guy who works part-time. After eating dinner in front of the TV for so long, unbeknownst to him, he’s starting to develop insulin resistance. This means that less glucose is available for energy. He is constantly fatigued and he needs a day where he’s feeling really good to actually get to the gym. After three weeks of going to the gym, he may or may not start to feel better, but he also may or may not actually feel worst. Over the longer-term, the exercise will help his insulin sensitivity and therefore his energy levels, but not necessarily when he first starts. If he isn’t feeling any different from the workouts within a certain time frame, but expected to feel better, then his motivation will begin to wane.

Therefore, energy levels and motivation are inter-related and effect each other. Typically in the short-term, motivation can keep you on track, as with the one day example with the woman. On the other hand, motivation (also known as self-control, will-power, etc) has a very short life span. The best I’ve seen is 3 months. People can typically sustain extended motivation and self-control for things they want, but aren’t habits for 3 months. After that, they had better have increased energy levels, a strong social support or actually have habits that allow them to instinctively get to the gym – even in their fatigued stupor.

Beliefs also come back into play with “motivation” as you can have the belief that, “I have to be better than…” so and so. That “negative motivation” can sustain you much longer than 3 months – but typically not good for you from an overall perspective. Typically negative motivation – to not “be or feel” a certain emotion – can drive motivation much longer and stronger than a positive motivation – reaching towards a goal. The problem is that most people that don’t work out, will have that “negative motivation” but not have the requisite energy to act on it because of physical ailments.

These physical ailments are typically small, inocuous things such as a neuro-transmitter imbalance, vitamin or mineral deficiencies, increased bodily inflammation, blood sugar issues, etc.

When you take these 7 factors into consideration: 1 – An overflowing of information where the person’s main choice is to figure out to go after what’s “good enough” or “the best.” If the person looks for “the best method” than typically that individual is met with a huge influx of information that leads to a “brain-freeze” and therefore no decision being made, 2 – An overly complicated plan, which has people falling back to the “status quo” or their previous habits, 3 – An individual’s beliefs about nutrition, exercise, supplements, hard work, and expectations of those things, 4 – An individual’s habits, 5 – The environment that the person is in, 6 – The person’s energy levels, both short and long-term factors, and 7 – The person’s levels of motivation or self-control, will-power or whatever else you want to name it, you see a lot of moving parts. These moving parts are all intertwined pieces that come together that say, “This is what I’m going to do.” This is how a decision is made, instantly, with very little to none of our conscious thought. The decision is felt through our emotions (beliefs/conditionings), influenced by what we don’t have to think about (habits), the environment we’re in, along with how we look for information we need to hit our goals (maximizer vs satisficer).

I could literally be here all day talking about this, instead I will wrap up this post by saying that, the next time someone complains that they “need to lose weight” while eating a deep-fried oreo, you can have some understanding and maybe even some sympathy for them.  Just a little though ;).

This post was really about those that say one thing and then do another. In a future post, I may talk about those individual’s who are skinny, complain that they “need to work out” but have absolutely no intentions of doing so.   In other words, they have no desire to work out, but simply feel like they “should” feel guilty about not working out. 

Tomorrow, I will start putting up posts about various methods that help to influence these 7 factors in a positive way and makes it easier to make the decision to work out and stick to it.

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