The other day I had a dream where I witnessed a man being tortured so he would help his torturers with something. When given the chance to talk to some authority figures, I asked them how well punishment was working for them and then talked to them about positive reinforcement and how much more effective it is in changing behavior, teaching, and for getting what you want. That was the basic gist of the dream although there were tons of details I’m leaving out right now.
In fitness and creating healthy habits, it’s important for you to reinforce yourself. And more important not to punish yourself. Why would you repeatedly do exercise if you loathe the activity? What would motivate you to keep going? Nothing, that’s what.
Reinforcement is incredibly individualized too. What is reinforcing for me might not get results with someone else.
What I find reinforcing and encouraging to me is actually quite interesting. A really challenging workout is incredibly reinforcing for me, especially when I finish, and most especially when I do it well. Nothing gets me more pumped and energized!
During a workout, I don’t find people watching me very reinforcing. But having someone NOTICE that I just lifted a heavy weight or hit a milestone and saying “good job” is extremely motivating.
Fist bumps sound lame, but when my coach gives me one, I feel on top of the world!
I’ve experienced the other end of the spectrum before as well. Where you are penalized with burpees for being late to a workout, or you weren’t doing an exercise quite right and the trainer called you out in front of everyone. I’ve been shamed and guilted into exercising, but as you can imagine, that usually doesn’t work out so well. I lose momentum quickly and motivation goes out the window.
I don’t expect everyone to love working out quite like I do. But you’ll find certain ways in these routines that are very satisfying and you’ll start craving them as much as any other treat.
Go ahead and reward yourself with a great big cup of “YOU’RE AWESOME”!