Pavlov and his Dogs
Your Activity Tracker is your bell
Put simply, we want to associate our feelings of success, heightened confidence, and "awesomeness," following a workout with our activity tracker. Now, it doesn't have to be the activity tracker itself, though that will work. It can be the sound associated with completing a workout, the feeling of the tracker (i.e. the smooth surface of the face, the design in the rubber band), or the way the lights light up as you move. For me, it's the raised writing I have on the inside of a silicon band that I wear. Find something that works for you, and use it.
Forming the Association
This is the important part that will take training. You need to do this repeatedly in order to form the association. Finish a difficult workout? Go back to your cue. Beat a friend in a race? Remember your cue. Every time you go to your cue, it's important to remember those positive feelings you're experiencing. Take a moment, close your eyes, and really feel how awesome it feels to finish your workout. The workout itself may have been tough, but this feeling you get afterwards makes it totally worth it. It was worth getting off the couch and going out into the cold. It's worth the sweat and the difficulty you went through during the workout. Focus on the cue and the positive feelings associated with the workout, and the association will start to form.
Now, after some time, you will form the connection between the activity tracker and the positive feelings associated with exercise. This is where it can become a really helpful part of exercise. Having difficulty getting off the couch? Feel like you're not going to have a great workout, so why even bother? Go back to your cue. Close your eyes, focus on your cue, and think about all of the positive feelings you used every time you were motivated to exercise and all of the times you have been successful in completing a workout. This will help you get up the motivation you need to complete your workout today. And then, when you're done, and you feel the endorphins and positive feelings following exercise, go back to your cue to reinforce the association. The more you do it, the stronger the association becomes.
Anchoring and Affective Expectation
So, when we look at our activity tracker before exercise, think about how positively you're going to feel after you finish your workout. This will help you experience these feelings following your workout, and make that connection between exercise and those positive feelings. It can create a sort of feedback loop, where expecting to feel good after a workout will make you feel good after a workout, and make you want to work out more.
Why wouldn't you want to keep exercising if you know how great it will make you feel?