Sports: How to Overcome Your Weakest Self

How do you get over your inner bastard?

A sports psychologist on the power of habit and the right way to deal with excuses.


4 minutes

Here he lurks again, the inner bastard.
© Pixabay.com

Carry the water chest to the third floor – without gasping for air. Slimmer body, less aches and pains: Most of us realize that it is a good idea to exercise regularly.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t automatically mean we’re ready to slip into our gym gear and actually keep going. Whoever keeps us bound often is our weaker self. He’s skilled at coming up with 20 reasons why the sofa is a better option than a gym unit. How do you deceive him?

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According to Munich sports psychologist Thomas Rethaler, if we find it hard to catch the scoop, there’s usually a reason behind it: We haven’t yet established training as a habit in everyday life. These habits have a huge advantage because we follow them without much thought. “In the evening, we brush our teeth — without having to negotiate for long with each other,” says Rethaler.

You can’t do that without self-discipline

So the good news is: Once sport is firmly rooted in everyday life, the weakest will not throw many sporting excuses at our feet. The bad news: The road to habit requires staying in power and a good deal of self-discipline.

According to Ritthaler, if we are still at the beginning of the sport, we look primarily at costs and less at benefits. Because we have to free up a time window for sports in our busy daily life. And of course the first Pilates unit or running session is especially demanding for those who are new to the sport. Sometimes it’s frustrating because you’re not in shape and everyone else is passing you by.

It is important then that you bring joy on board. “We find the strongest motivation when we really feel the urge to exercise,” says Rethaler. “If it is not primarily about the desire to be thin, but about pleasure.” In psychology this is called intrinsic motivation. This is the motivation that does not come from recognition that is hoped for from outside, but from within ourselves.

How do you get used to this habit?

“Initially you have to set yourself specific goals – for example with the question: What do I want to achieve?” says sports scientist Laura Blans from the German University of Prevention and Health Management (DHfPG).

The next step is to devise a specific plan of objectives. According to Blanes, the phrase “I’ll start running next week” is too vague. On the other hand, if we say “I’m going for a run on Thursday after work at 5 p.m.”, we are more likely to continue with our plan. Especially when we have a Plan B ready for bad weather: the sports hoodie or the treadmill at the gym.

Bigger is better? This does not apply to goals in sports – in the beginning. “Even if it’s silly: Set yourself very small goals,” advises sports psychologist Ritaler. Because even a minute of sports is more than not a minute of sports.

If a sports psychologist has what they want, it can be a goal to exercise for ten minutes a day. The argument “No time!” Common to foundlings. It works very empty. If you exercise for ten minutes in six days, that means you exercised for an hour at the end of the week – not so little.

The Five Minute Deal Hoax

Sports dates with others can have a motivating effect. According to sports scientist Plans, the hurdle not to do so is much higher. Finally, fitness wristbands and apps can also enhance your workout because they make progress visible. “But you shouldn’t let that put you under pressure,” says Rethaler.

Sometimes a bastard can be persuaded of what Thomas Rethaler calls a “five-minute deal.” You plan to train for five minutes. Then you can stop with a clear conscience. Once you’re in your running clothes or standing on your gym mat, five minutes often turn into ten or fifteen minutes. The inner bastard was silent.

Sometimes the body also reports that it doesn’t feel like exercising today due to muscle pain or weakness. “You shouldn’t ignore these body cues,” says Blanes. So instead of jogging, walking might do you good. Or instead of a sweaty spinning unit in the studio, a gentle workout at home. (dpa)

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