You’re only one workout away from a good mood.

The trouble with working out, a friend grumbled, is the lack of immediate gratification.

I understand that. But that also depends on what you’re going for.

If you exercise to look good, then yeah. No immediate gratification there. In fact, depending on how hard you work, you may or may not ever be gratified. You have to put some real work into your workout to change your appearance.

Sometimes I put real work into my workout for a few weeks and see small physical changes. (Is that a bicep muscle or just a shadow?) Sometimes I don’t feel like working that hard and ratchet back to low-maintenance workouts.

But even sissy little workouts provide immediate gratification that has hooked me on exercise: I feel so damn good when I’m done. Guaranteed. And that’s enough to get me going on low-motivation days. (Usually. Not always. I’m only human.)

Thinking about long-range gratification is kind of useless. There’s so much we can’t control each and every day, how can we hope to control results in the distant future? That’s crazy talk.

As important as long-term goals are, the distant future isn’t terribly motivating in the day-to-day for me. When it comes to taking the kazillion small steps required to reach long-term goals I need concrete, easily reachable goals and small-potatoes motivators. I may or may not ever look buff (probably not) even if that’s my long-term goal. But maybe I can reach the goal of exercising four days a week. If I can just get off my butt today.

For that, I need an even shorter-term goal, which this quote provides. The good mood is the goal. If I work out on this day, I’ll feel good. And the good mood puts me one day closer to my four-day-a-week-goal. And if the good mood can motivate me tomorrow and the next day, and then another day, I’ve made my goal for the week. And if I go for that good mood four days of every week for a month, and then another, and another, maybe someday I will be buff.

Or maybe not. But at least I’ll be in a good mood. Guaranteed.

Like working out with DVDs? Please visit my blog Suit Up and Show Up for fitness DVD reviews.

My book, The Introvert’s Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World, is available for pre-order on Amazon. It will be released December 4, just in time for party/festive/family-togetherness season.

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