QUESTION: “How do you find motivation again when it lags?”—@JAY_RYAN4

ANSWER: Motivation is BS. The prefrontal cortex of your brain is where willpower comes from. It also handles day-to-day tasks, short-term memory, and focus. In short, it’s overworked, so how can you expect it to keep you on task with your fitness goals when it’s already busy paying your bills and remembering your wedding anniversary?

The way to achieve your goal isn’t through periodic shots of adrenaline, but rather by making small appointments that you keep on a regular basis. Take this study from the British Journal of Health Psychology. One group of exercisers tracked their workouts; a second group tracked and was motivated to train by reading about how exercise prevented disease; a third group did the same as the second but also made a specific commitment to get at least 20 minutes of exercise on a particular day, time, and place every week. Guess what happened: The third group had the highest rate of compliance, at 91 percent.

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Why does it work? Because building one habit at a time helps reduce cognitive load, meaning your brain has less to process. Breaking goals down into little pieces lets you pick them up a day at a time—you don’t get overwhelmed by seeming the enormity of what you want to accomplish and can see it through. Think of it this way, and achieving a goal is no different from checking off any other to-do list.

Ask Adam: Have a question for Adam? Tweet @Bornfitness and @muscle_fitness with the hashtag #bornfit.