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How to Psychologically Trick Yourself Into Getting Motivated to Exercise… Even if You HATE Exercising

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“I absolutely hate exercise, and there’s no way in hell you’re going to get me to do it” said Marie, one of my clients.

At the time, I was doing some personal training on the side – now although I didn’t stick with the profession, before I stopped training I got Marie to exercise 30 minutes a day – every day – by herself, and she actually liked it.


By using psychology.

Instead of forcing her to do exercise she didn’t like anyway (which I knew she’d quit), I told Marie that psychologists have found 7 interesting psychological quirks about people that exercise (or stick with anything, long-term).

Once I showed her those, it was easy to see where she was going astray.

To find out what those are (and how to apply them to your own motivation), check out the video below:

What’s The Secret to Exercise Motivation? Thoughts?

What do you personally use to motivate you?

Do you use rewards? (Junk food, more TV time, etc.)

Do you inherently like some kind of light activity? (gardening, walking, etc.)

Do you avoid exercise altogether but you’d like to start?

Hit me up in the comments below.

Also, if you know someone you think needs some motivation to exercise, pass this video along!

– Alex


Some psychological papers mentioned: (Stipek, 1996) (Eccles & Wigfield, 2002) Trost et al, 2002; Huberty et al 2008; Pintrich & DeGroot, 1990),  (Whaley and Schrider, 2005)

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19 comments… add one

  1. Hi Alex,
    Thank you for this post. You drove home my belief that we are in control of our actions and life and it’s how you respond and deal with external forces that determines if you stay in control or give in.

    I for one never did like to exercise but I love playing tennis so that is a huge part of my exercise but learned it is not enough. Not until three years ago did I realize I needed to work all parts of my body and started weight lifting and doing core exercises. Even though I have days I want to stay home in the mornings and not go to my exercise class, I have managed to go 3 times a week religiously. What motivates me? Fear. Fear of losing muscles and being sore if I don’t go consistently. I always enjoy the workouts when I get there so the hardest part is getting myself out the door and driving to the club.

    Another factor that makes my workouts fun and interesting is the high energy the instructor creates for the group and the repetition to music makes it not so boring. Les Mills workout classes are the way to go. Reward – other people noticing and telling you how fit you look!

    I think my workouts have become a habit so unless I injure myself, I see myself going to these classes for a long time.

    1. Hi Lisa,

      Aha! Fear. I didn’t think of that. I’ve noticed the same as you though – getting started is the hardest part. It’s breaking that initial inertia that is the toughest.

      And I’m totally with you that have a fun instructor, environment, and class will make ALL the difference. The tough part for many people is when they’re just starting out and haven’t seen results yet – that’s when I try to get them to focus on enjoying it!

      – Alex

  2. Hi Alex,

    Good suggestions.

    One motivator for me is knowing that I’ll feel like I did the right thing, i.e., something to feel good about when I turn in at night. This works for many other things besides exercising, like ceding the right of way while driving, or offering help to strangers, or leaving a really good tip.

    1. Hi Ted,

      That’s pretty cool, I never thought about that. So you mean it’s sort of the satisfaction you get when you lay down at the end of the day and say “I know what I needed to do today” ? Sort of that peace of mind factor?

      – Alex

  3. Hello Alex
    This is my motivation to exercise: walking in nature. It gives me such a high to walk in the different seasons. It took me some courage to take up my Nording Walking ticks and walk by myself through fields and woods this year. I am really loving it and feel invigorated after a roughly 2 hour walk. Ok, so I am training a bit as well at the moment to be really fit for a sponsored walk I am doing in September. However this really motivates me to give something back to others, something I can and want to do. By the way I am going to be 70 next year – there is always a way to get started and continue. I am blessed to have such amazing nature around me where I live – yes, one needs to feel really passionate about something, then you will stick with it. Thanks Alex!

    1. Roswitha,

      I love that! One of my favorite ways to exercise is getting into some fresh air myself.

      My favorite is to kayak in the summer and get some fresh ocean air and waves around me. I come back so relaxed!

      – Alex

  4. Great post Alex
    I’m reading this in hospital.
    Can’t wait to get out and back to my daily 45 minute walk through the woods near my home.


    1. Hey Dave,

      I totally agree with you and Roswitha – going outside is such a high for me. I come back incredibly relaxed and calm. I wish you a speedy recovery so you can get back to your woods walk!


  5. I was just negotiating with myself about going to Bikram class in the morning and decided to consult the Goog-oracle. Well played, Health Monk. I’m going.

    My primary motivations are beauty and physical attractiveness. When I look my best, I get more of what I want. When I look my best, it is also because I have been taking great care of myself and therefore manifest my goals more easily. It’s a healthy Catch-22. My secondary motivation is to maintain balance in my love affair with food and wine. If I have generated a sufficient amount of dopamine with wellness-promoting activity, I can make the time I spend with my culinary love about quality instead of quantity. Daily, strenuous exercise makes food and drink a luxurious and deliberate indulgence rather than a source of comfort. Thanks, Alex! Preternatural timing. :-)

    1. Aha. The goog-oracle always knows best ;)

      I’m with you on the wine… not a chance someone could convince me to give it up haha.

  6. I’m a 61 yo with h/o two back surgeries and plenty of arthritis. Your neck and back routine are the most amazing stretches/exercises I’ve ever come upon. What’s even more incredible is that you are not selling anything or asking for $$. That makes YOU amazing to me. Thank you for your generous spirit and kind heart.

    1. You’re welcome Bob! Glad they helped :-).

  7. A BIG BIG THANK YOU again Alex !!
    You are doing a SUPERB job, bringing a healthy lifestyle to people life’s.

    We really appreciate it.


    1. Cheers Carlos :-) Hope it helps!

  8. Hi, Great video. I found this page by accident when I was looking for motivation tips, and I found it interesting. I have been trying for years to find the motivation for many things, and nothing has been successful. I have a background in HR management, and so have studied a lot about increasing productivity in a workforce. I don’t know why it never occurred to me to apply this to myself in non-work contexts — it’s so obvious now you have pointed it out! Thank you so much for your insightful video.

    1. Cheers S! Glad it helped :-)

  9. Im being entirely random( bt im thinkin u probably gt dis a lot so…) do u still look as hot as u do in d article’s pics, r u taken(damn im neva dis forward bt im curious plus we’ll neva meet) and simple fact of my life nothing really inspires to do anything, however lately ive jus desperately wanted to make a difference in a child’s life- ive always wanted to b a part of changing things…. so six months from now i’ll b effecting change. Nd yeah id realy appreciate a answers to my questions, it will make fantasizing abt u dat much easier, oh and hw old r u…

  10. You’ve obviously found your right path because you’re doing what you do very well. You’re clear, easy to understand, likeable and sincere…….a winning combination…….yay for you!!!

    I will keep your remarks in mind as I embark on a series of movements, (exercises sounds so un-fun) designed to fix my aching, 69 year old back…..too many years of bad habits…

    Thanks for your help.

    Judy, Ojai California

    1. Good luck Judy :-)


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