Spring Your Fitness Forward

Workout anticipation. As specialists emphasise, anticipation can boost motivation and optimism while reducing irritability. Here, Rae talks to us about envisioning post-workout euphoria before strapping on the trainers, embracing the thrill of endorphins and accomplishment. By savouring small victories in advance, we strengthen resolve and drive progress.

Did you know that looking forward to something can be almost as good as experiencing it? Your upcoming holiday, meticulously planned; a family gathering, where far-flung loved ones all come together; a dinner out with your bestie; or a big friends’ get-together. The anticipation and excitement around planning life events can boost your mood and lower your stress levels.

Chief psychologist at Montefiore Medical Centre, New York, Simon Rego, has written extensively on the direct effect of anticipation on mood. He says “it can increase motivation, optimism and patience, and decrease irritability”, and quite frankly, couldn’t we all do with a little big of that?

Unfortunately, it’s not realistic to book a holiday every time we feel we need cheering up!

But did you know what you can apply this concept to your workouts and exercise routines too?

We all know that occasionally- or for some, more often than not- the struggle to get up and actually go for that run, that group class, that weights session is very real. What if we applied the same anticipation on how we feel after we’ve finished our workout at the very start of it?

What if we allowed ourselves to feel that feeling of accomplishment, of those happy hormones flowing through our mind, of the blood pumping and coursing through our veins making us feel more alive and present, that personal best getting smashed before we started our workout? Anticipating those small, but oh so important things before you head off to exercise act as a series of mini thrills before you’ve even popped your trainers on!

And remember, anything positive you can do ahead of your workout to improve it, progress it, and enjoy it can be a series of small steps that lead to big change so that you can spring forward!

Rae’s top tips to anticipate the accomplishment

(1) Think about your workout and what part of it you enjoy, and focus on that.

(2) Tap in to how you felt the last time you had a great workout. Really visualise the breathlessness, the sweat, the feeling of achievement, and of how proud you felt.

(3) Think about your progress. Can you lift heavier? Can you hold your plank longer? Is your core stronger? What can you self-assess that has improved, which has nothing to do with the numbers on the weighing scale?

(4) Think about the endorphins- the happy hormones that are naturally released- the last time you had a great workout. Think also about how your mood lifted for the rest of the day, and how you dealt with life’s curveballs that little bit easier, for example.

(5) Anticipate these little wins ahead of your workouts, and get excited.