Thursday, October 29, 2009

Motivation Boosters from

1. Do it for you. Sixty-nine percent of women who workout regularly—we'll call them exer-fans—do so to please themselves alone. "The more you exercise to please others or assuage guilt, the less likely you'll be to stick with it," says Wendy Rodgers, Ph.D., professor of exercise psychology at the University of Alberta in Edmonton.

2. Set a goal. Exer-fans are more likely to have an aim than exer-phobes (sometime exercisers). "Set a goal that is specific, actionable, short-term and measurable," says James Annesi, Ph.D., director of wellness advancement at the YMCA of Metropolitan Atlanta in Georgia. Big-picture concepts, like "I want to be slender in six months," don't carry as much oomph as "I want to fit into a size 10 in six weeks."

3. Follow a program. "If you have a plan before you exercise, then you're accountable to it, and you'll feel more satisfied once you fulfill it," says Tom Holland, an exercise physiologist in Darien, Connecticut. And the better you feel after your workout, the more likely you'll be to do it again. So take a class, hire a trainer or view videos of moves at

4. Toss your scale. Measure your exercise achievements by how your clothes fit, as 68 percent of exer-fans do, not by a number. Research suggests that post-exercise, you'll feel slimmer before the scale backs you up, so waiting and waiting for the perfect number to appear might be discouraging. "When you've challenged your body with exercise, you'll benefit from an improved mood and a sense of mastery, which is associated with better body image," says Annesi. Those good vibes will help you stick with your program long enough to get physical results.

5. Sense your success. More than one in three (35 percent) exer-fans say visualizing their success is key. "Taste the sweat on your lips, hear the sound of your racket hitting the ball—conjure images that are vivid, controllable and emotionally effective," says Colleen Hacker, Ph.D., sports psychology consultant for the U.S. National Women's Soccer team. Research shows that visualizing a few minutes a day, a couple of days a week, can alter your behavior. "If you imagine yourself successfully working out," she says, "you can create and strengthen the belief that you're capable of it." You know how the story goes. Once you think you can, that big hill is a breeze.

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