Today I attended a conference called "Hacking and Israel: Models for Innovation." It was a great conference that mostly focused on what small businesses (like Rubberbanditz) can learn from companies starting up in Israel. Most of it really didn’t apply to the exercise crowd though. What really got me thinking about fitness was at the end of the conference when Dan Ariely started speaking. If you don't know who Dan is, look him up on wikipedia, TED, or better yet, go out and get is books on Irrationality (Predictably Irrational and The Upside of Irrationality). In his books he talks a lot about the strange decisions that humans make. A big example of this is exercise.

Exercise is good for us, it makes us healthier, stronger, and, well, just better. We all know this, so why don't we exercise? In a perfect world, people see the benefits of something and they go for it. But we don't live in a perfect world. We make excuses; we say I’ll do that tomorrow, it’s too hard, I'm tired! In reality we're all lazy, and we need motivation. That’s where Dan's speech came in.

 He talked about some great ways to stop ourselves from making bad decisions, something that apparently now causes something like 45% of deaths in the country. Let’s talk about 3 of the big helpers that will start or keep you exercising

Ulysses Contract

This is based on a Greek story where Ulysses, knowing that he was sailing towards the beautiful and deadly sirens, had his men tie him to the sail. This way he wouldn’t be able to drive the ship to the sirens, killing his entire crew in the process. Kind of a scary thought, but from this story we get the Ulysses Contract, which is an action we take that forces us to take the high road in the future. This might mean having a friend drop you off at work so you can run home after, or only packing healthy food in your bag but no money to buy bad for you snacks during the day. There are plenty of ways to adopt this thought process.

Reward Substitution

Sometimes the benefits of exercise are nebulous. It may help us lose weight, but we can't actually see it melting off as we work out. It may also improve our chances of heart disease in the future, but thats far off, later! One way to combat this is by giving yourself little rewards along the way. For example, maybe you want to catch up on a certain TV show. Leave it for while you're working out. If you only watch TV when you exercise, your brain will start to associate exercise with your favorite TV sitcom instead of the heavy breathing and work in the workout.

 Social Pressure

Do you work out by yourself? How difficult is it to skip out on a workout? It’s not very hard. The trick is to apply a little social pressure. Working out can be a group activity. Call up some friends and go to a park to bust out some reps, or go on a jog with a local running group. It’s exponentially harder to bail on a friend than it is to bail on a workout.


So there are three easy ways to motivate yourself to work out. It definitely wasn’t the entire list that we talked about during Dan's discussion. What do you think? Let us know what motivates you in the comments.