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6 Tactics to Beat “Couch Potato Syndrome”


When you make your fitness resolutions, you usually have the best case scenarios in mind, or at least something close to it. You’re hopeful and excited and full of plans--all of which is important and great! This energy can help you to take the steps towards being the best version of yourself.

What you sometimes don’t take into account, however, is the fact that sometimes you aren’t going to be living those best case scenarios.

Committing to exercise and living healthier is not just that one enthusiastic moment at the beginning of the year (or, actually, at any points when you finally decide “I’m going to do this! I’m going to be fit, look great, and feel great!”)

For it to happen, you need to make that big commitment (pretty easy, and fun, too) and follow it up with a series of smaller commitments (not so easy, and not always enjoyable).

The more mundane moments where we need to say “yes” to getting up early in the morning to train, to doing exercises we have difficulty with, to taking the time out just to clear the mind despite all our responsibilities; you get the picture.

The danger is always that we take the route of comfort rather than the path of growth; to put it one way, our “inner couch potato” ends up being the one making the decisions for us.

Your mind is telling you to train, consistently and vigorously...but your inner couch potato is keeping you chained to the sofa / forcing you to hit the snooze button (again).

Luckily, there are tactics that you can rely on to overcome the dreaded “Couch Potato Syndrome (CPS)”, and thrive--on and off the training ground. Read on for our list of tips for making sure your inner couch potato isn’t the one calling the shots in your fitness journey.

Go-To Tactics:

1. Self-talk: Use self-talk to get encouragement from a very special someone – yourself!

Self-talk is so simple, yet so powerful.

It is, in effect, a practice of having a language-based dialogue with yourself that enables you to be your own guide and supporter in your journey. Done right, it reinforces positive thoughts which help you to stay motivated, remember important strengths or knowledge that you have, and can help you find your ideal rhythm in your fitness activities.

The technique has been used by many, including Olympic athletes and military Special Forces operators, to strengthen their focus and resolve when they are practicing or need to get the job done during the moments that matter most.

Here’s how you can get started with practicing self-talk to boost your motivation:

  • Notice when you are telling yourself something negative in an extreme way and adjust your language to be more realistic. For example, if you hear yourself saying, “I just don’t have any focus left for this, I won’t be able to do it” before your post-work workout, try changing it to, “It will be challenging to focus during this workout, but I will give it my best shot and will feel great at the end!”
  • Keep a small positivity or gratitude journal in which you write yourself notes highlighting what you did right during your day and what you’re grateful for. Be sure to include moments from your workouts and decisions you’ve made that positively impact your health, like skipping favorite sugary snacks, or planning your exercise and meals across the week.
  • Come up with a short mantra personal to you that you can repeat to yourself as you’re working out. Make sure to keep it positive and short, so you’ll be able to use it whenever things get difficult or you need dig a little deeper to achieve your goals.

2. Visualization: See your own success ahead of time by envisioning what it looks like to you

You may have heard people tell you that visualizing success is the first step to achieving it. Whether or not it is the actual first step or not is up for debate, but there is no denying that people who visualize success are more likely to reach their goals or at least excel in their pursuit of them.

The technique of visualization is all about thinking thoughts related to your success. The term can be a little misleading, in that it can make one think that it is only about visual images that you focus on in the mind; in fact, visualization also encompasses the sense memories that you have in your body.

For example, visualization can mean recalling the feeling of tension and release in your hamstrings and quads as you tackle the big hill on your running route, but doing so when you are in the gym working your legs, or when you are mentally preparing for the run by thinking through the route in your mind before running.

Like self-talk, it’s simple, but it’s powerful.

If you want to learn more about visualization in a guided way, be sure to check out the episodes on visualization in your Mindset Coach.

3. Social Connection: Train together with other fitness-focused friends, family, and acquaintances – in real life and in virtual spaces

We humans are social beings, and being part of a community gives us a sense of belonging and the desire to help other group members out.

When training or making healthy life changes as a group, it’s naturally easier because of this. By connecting with people who have similar goals and healthy habits, you will have supportive folks helping you reach your own targets and hold you accountable in the ways you need.

Connecting with a community for activity is easy! Fitness communities are everywhere and there’s one for every interest and personality. Dedicate some time to search online and ask friends to help you find one that suits you well and can keep you motivated and focused.

One of Freeletics’s great strengths has always been that our vibrant and positive community of Free Athletes has always been there to encourage people of all backgrounds to become their best selves, no matter what that personal vision looks like. If you’re looking for some great company to help you out of a rut or just to connect with in your journey, make sure to find our global community on Facebook and don’t be afraid to reach out to others in the app!

Finally, make sure to tune in to our Freeletics live trainings on YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook so that you can train along with the scores of other Free Athletes across the globe!

4. Scheduling: Make a date with yourself and get excited for it

A little planning goes a long way. Putting training time into your calendar is a way for you to make that commitment to yourself more tangible and real.

Find a time of day that works best for you, and keep your “date” like you would any other. As you anticipate it coming up, think about the physical rush and challenges that you’ll feel, and how you want it to go, from start to finish.

When it’s “go time”, just start the process and trust yourself to follow through and do your best! You might be surprised at how well it all goes, and you may end up looking forward to the next one.

5. Preparation: Have your gear ready, optimize your workout spaces, and know your specific steps for getting started**

This one sounds a little more involved than it is, but it’s actually super simple!

You should make it_ as easy as possible_ for yourself to get going with your workout by doing the following:

In advance, prepare all the things you need to do the next workout, at the place you’ll be using them, and know the first basic steps you’ll take when you get to the point of performance.

For example, if you usually train in a certain room at home, you could put all your weights, workout clothes, and water bottle (fill it up as part of the prep!) in one spot in that room the night before.

If your first steps are to change into workout clothes, hydrate, then place the training mat on the ground, when it’s time for your “workout date” with yourself, there is very little that can get in the way of you following through.

Since you’ve prepared your space, you can just show up, put on your workout clothes, have a sip of water, place the mat and…boom, you’ve started your workout!

If Freeletics is already part of your routine, make sure your phone is charged and with you as part of your prep. Then you can simply open the app and get started.

This also works if you typically like to work out outdoors. Just do your preparations, decide on the training spot you’re going to (know how you plan to get there), and place everything you need in or around a gear bag near the door. When it’s time to train, you’re just minutes away from getting set and out of the house.

6. **Recovery Days: **We all need a recharge break once in a while

Finally, build in rest days. There is such a thing as overdoing it, and even if you are able to get motivated and defeat that inner couch potato for a few days running, you need to make sure it’s sustainable so that you don’t get hurt or overly exhausted.

Plus, getting motivated to train is easier when you know you get recovery days in between.

And they are not just a “reward”. Your body really needs them.

Decide when your rest days will be and what you’ll do on them. Maybe take some time to reflect on your progress or de-stress and spend some time doing something that makes you happy during the time you’d normally be working out.

In the long run, you’ll be able to stay motivated and keep things going more steadily if you incorporate rest days into your training.

Wave goodbye to your inner couch potato

Now the next time you feel that your motivation is slipping, or you just feel like you can’t get started, rely on these techniques to help you push forward. Start with just one or two and build up, and you’ll soon see that they can be applied to other areas of your life where you need a motivation boost.