It’s become more apparent to me lately just how many people have difficulty either getting started with a fitness program or simply adhering to one. I’m coming to believe that there is a certain mind set, or psychology let’s call it, behind the problem. For most athletes, fitness and sports have simply been part of their lives for as long as they remember. And because of this, workouts are something they just do, and don’t analyze.

Somewhere along the way, they began looking at exercise the way most people look at eating or sleeping—it’s just a part of life. For those people who never learned this when they were young, however, it seems much more difficult to do so once they reach adulthood. More effort is required to develop these habits as adults, even though the individual displays a great amount of motivation and drive. That is not to say that the difficulty cannot be overcome, it just may require more effort as an adult to develop the same habits that come easily to a child or adolescent. Consistency in exercise can seem harder to obtain and often takes longer.

So that’s what this article will focus on: the psychology of fitness—how to change your thoughts concerning exercise, and with that your actions will hopefully follow.

For starters, give yourself a fair opportunity to get off to a good start. Try to gear your thoughts towards the positive and use empowering words rather than words that strip you of your power. Try to refrain from negatives like “can’t” and “don’t”. Instead of saying “I didn’t have time to exercise this morning,” be honest with yourself and say, “I chose not to exercise.” It will seem difficult at first, and maybe you even had a viable reason, but either way, you probably chose to make the decision yourself, rather than have it made for you. I truly believe that in order to get off to a good start you first need to begin with changing your own perception.

Most people disempower themselves by trying to convince themselves and others that they simply “can’t” instead of that they choose not to. I understand that there are plenty of more important things that can arise to get in the way of exercising. Maybe a friend called and needed someone to talk to, or your child wasn’t feeling well, or your husband just called to say he got that promotion just as you were headed out the door to go to the gym. There are plenty of important things that can arise, just be fair to yourself and state it for what it really is—I chose not to because I had something I felt was more important to do. And then be sure that it really was more important.

From there you may need to re-evaluate your priorities. While it may be important to have dinner on the table by 6:00 pm in order to help the children with their homework before bed, you may be able to adjust some of your less pressing and more flexible activities in your day. Maybe it’s not imperative that you watch TV every night for two hours, maybe cut that in half. Or try cleaning the house on the weekend, allowing yourself more time through the week for exercise. Obviously each person’s schedule will vary. My husband, for example, doesn’t like to workout in the morning and so does his exercise over his lunch break. For another, maybe going to bed an hour earlier would allow enough time to get up and exercise before work.

I realize that what works for one person may not work for another, but you will never know until you devote the time to giving it some thought and making some changes. Try to look at the big picture. Developing healthy habits now will make life so much easier on down the road. Think of exercise like making an investment in your future. It’s just as important as saving for your retirement. In the end, you want to live comfortably and have a good life, and that is what exercise can help provide for you.

Author's Bio: 

Melissa Allen, CPT, BS, CES is a certified personal trainer, corrective exercise specialist and health coach, as well as the owner of Optimum Condition—Mobile Personal Training & Exercise Therapy. Melissa offers customized online fitness plans for people all over the U.S. as well as free coaching for the Medifast/ Take Shape for Life weight loss program. Please contact her with any questions or comments by visiting her website at