Sport: How to defeat your weakest self

How do you overcome your inner bastard?

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


4 min

There is eavesdropping again, inner bastard.
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Keep the water box on the third floor – without gasping for air. A slimmer body, less aches and pains: Most of us realize that it is good to exercise regularly.

Unfortunately, this does not automatically mean that we are ready to get into our sports equipment and actually get started. Anyone who keeps us too often in a short chain is the weakest self. He is able to find 20 reasons why the sofa is a better choice than the sports unit. How do you overcome it?

According to sports psychologist Thomas Ritthaler from Munich, if we find it difficult to get the spoon, there is usually a reason behind it: We have not yet established exercise as a habit in daily life. Such habits have a great advantage because we follow them without much thought. “In the evening we brush our teeth – without having to negotiate long with each other,” says Ritthaler.

You can not do it without self-discipline

So the good news is: once sport is firmly anchored in daily life, our weaker selves will no longer throw so many sporting excuses at our feet. The bad news: the road to habit requires perseverance and a good deal of self-discipline.

According to Ritthaler, if we are still in the beginnings of the sport, we are primarily looking at costs and less benefits. Because we need to free up a window of time for sports in our busy daily lives. And of course the first Pilates session or jogging session is especially demanding for those who are new to the sport. Sometimes it is also frustrating because you are not in good shape and everyone else is passing you by.

Then it is even more important to bring joy on board. “We find the strongest motivation when we really want to do a sport,” says Ritthaler. “If it’s not primarily about the desire to lose weight, but to have fun.” In psychology this is called intrinsic motivation. This is the impetus that does not come from hoped for knowledge from outside, but from within us.

How do you get into the habit?

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

The next step is to draw a concrete plan from the goals. According to Blanz, “I’ll start running next week” is very vague. On the other hand, if we say “I will go for a run on Thursday after work at 17:00”, we are more likely to realize our plan. Especially when we have a plan B ready for bad weather: the hooded sweatshirt or treadmill in the gym.

The bigger the better? This does not apply to goals in sports – in the beginning. “Even if it may seem ridiculous: Set yourself very small goals,” advises sports psychologist Ritthaler. Because even a minute of sport is more than a minute of sport.

If the sports psychologist has his way, it can actually be a goal to exercise ten minutes a day. The argument “There is no time!” popular with bastard. goes so empty. If you train for ten minutes in six days, you’ve done one hour of exercise over the weekend – not so little.

The “Five Minute Deal” trick.

Sports meetings with others can also have a motivating effect. According to sports scientist Blanz, the obstacle to not doing this is significantly higher. Finally, wristbands and fitness apps can also boost exercise because they make progress noticeable. “But you must not let that put you under pressure,” says Ritthaler.

Sometimes the bastard can be persuaded by what Thomas Ritthaler calls the “five minute deal.” You plan to train for five minutes. After that you can stop with a clear conscience. Once you put on your running clothes or stand on the sports mat, five minutes often turns into ten or fifteen minutes. The inner bastard is silent.

Sometimes the body also reports that it has no desire to train today due to muscle pain or weakness. “You should not ignore these bodily signals,” says Blanz. So instead of running, a walk can do you good. Or instead of the sweaty rotating unit in the studio, a gentler workout at home. (dpa)

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