Self-inquiry: bring on the confidence

What it does: Also known as ‘interrogative self-talk’, self inquiry promotes acknowledging doubts as part of a process to overcome them. An empowering process, it demands articulating what you’ll do by turning them into questions.

How to do it: Many negative thoughts originate from subconscious beliefs, which affirmations largely choose to ignore. Saying ‘I can’ and ‘I will’ works by making you more positive about yourself and your situation, but this has little sway if your fears surface and give you a list of reasons why you ‘can’t’ or ‘won’t’. By acknowledging these thoughts and bringing them into your full consciousness you can create congruence between what you’re saying to yourself and what you believe. A study in the journal of Psychological Science found that even something as simple as writing ‘will I?’ as opposed to ‘I will’ in an apparently unrelated writing task produced better intentions to exercise.


Goal priming – accountability

What it does: Planning exercise sessions can work against piking last-minute, as in the act of crafting a well-articulated plan, you’re effectively programming your mind to follow the script. “You will be more likely to stick to something when you can see it mapped out in front of you rather than just saying you want to do it,” says personal trainer and triathlete Sarah Menlove. You’ll also feel accountable to the plan. “Having specific exercises to target your individual goals means you have a plan of attack, so you don’t get to the gym and slack off or wander around wondering what to do,” Menlove says.

How to do it: Build your plan around the emotive goal you’ve identified, accounting for practical limitations (if you know you’ve got kids’ footy training on Thursdays or tend to finish work late on Mondays, factor it in). “Once you have your short- and long-term goals in place, you then need to schedule in your training, meal preparation and eating around your already busy life, ” says PT Emma James. A diary or spreadsheet or mobile phone app are ideal. Enlist gym staff or a PT to write a program that matches your vision.

Up your mood with your playlist

What it does: Music has been likened to a legal drug for athletes by exercise expert Costas Karageorghis, Ph.D. Research shows that listening to music during a workout can extend the duration before fatigue sets in, buying extra time and exertion. The analgesic effect of endorphins, which are activated by music, can mask fatigue, says psychologist Dale Barclay from Victoria’s Performance and Sport Psychology Clinic.

A study published The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that listening to a favourite playlist reduced non-productive behaviours in training and improved sprint and long-distance running performance. Studies show that a strategically chosen tempo can make hard gym graft feel easier, leading to longer sessions.

How to do it: Dr Karageorghis suggests planning your playlist around songs with which you’re familiar and that you find motivating. The tempo (measured in beats per minute) should loosely match your speed and intensity. Choose music of around 140 to 160 BPM for cardio like running and HITT, and around 115 BPM for weights and walking.

Read the full article by Madeline Lakos and Bronte Chaperon in the June 2016 issue of Women’s Health and Fitness for more motivational tips.

For more motivational tips and tricks, check out lifestyle section.