We’ve all been there before: lying on the couch with an empty potato chip bag in hand as we declare, “That’s it, I start my workout plan tomorrow,” only for tomorrow to come and the motivation to exercise to vanish. Often, finding that motivation can be harder than finding the remote (you know the one I’m talking about, the one loves to snuggle up deep beneath the couch cushions). While finding the motivation to exercise can be hard, it is not impossible. Throughout my fitness journey, I keep coming back to eight principles that help me stay on track and ready to reach my goals. These eight tips have kept me focused and motivated to continue working out, even when the temptation to quit is at its peak.
MOTIVATION STARTS EARLY
“I have some free time later, so I’ll just exercise then,” is such an easy excuse to make, and it’s a deadly one. I cannot stress this enough: the more you put off working out, the less likely you are to do it later.
If you can carve out some free time in the morning to get your work out in, do it! Whether this means waking up at 5 a.m. to go for a run (which, if you have the motivation to exercise, do it), or not allowing yourself to check social media until you finish your yoga practice, getting an early start on your workout routine will prevent you from making excuses later.
You will feel so much more refreshed and accomplished knowing you completed something off your to-do list early (not to mention those post-workout endorphins)!
POST GOALS ON THE WALL FOR MOTIVATION
Find images and quotes that encapsulate your work out goals (or even better, write them down yourself!) and place them on a wall or bulletin board where you can see them. It sounds cliché, but it does work.
While looking at motivational quotes/images on the internet is great, we are constantly flooded with online information and if you do not have a physical copy you can constantly look at, you are more likely to forget the words that inspired you. The more you look at your goals, the more they will be on your mind which, in turn, will make you more likely to put in the work to achieve them.
This is your chance to get creative, improve your motivation to exercise, so have fun and make it your own!
Accountability is hard to maintain on your own, so find someone who can go on this journey with you!
Find a family member or friend who is also interested in fitness and share your progress. If you are not able to work out together, text or call each other to cheer at the end of a tough work out or mourn how sore you are. You’ll feel comforted to know you are not alone in finding it hard to stay motivated, and as time goes on, you’ll have someone to celebrate your progress with as you achieve your goals (not to mention the joy of watching a loved one achieve at theirs).
Starting a new routine is challenging, but the knowledge you have someone rooting for you makes it a lot easier providing more motivation to exercise.
CHOOSE MUSIC/MEDIA THAT GETS YOU EXCITED TO EXERCISE
While exercising can be difficult on the body, this does not mean you can’t have fun!
Find music that motivates you and makes you smile, whether it’s early-rap or rock (I love working out to Eminem), listen to it while you work out. With that said, who says you have to limit yourself to music? If you enjoy podcasts or comedy albums, put one on while you run and enjoy. You could even watch tv while you do a HIIT routine!
This is your work out, so find something that motivates you and makes you happy.
MIX IT UP FOR MOTIVATION
There are so many different types of workouts, so why would you stick to the one you don’t like? If you are new to exercising or find yourself in a rut with your current routine, find something new and exciting enhancing your motivation to exercise.
I am not someone who can do the same thing every day, so I rotate between ballet, Pilates, yoga, weight training, and running to stay fit. This keeps me on my toes and prevents me from quitting out of boredom with my routine.
Research different kinds of workouts (CrossFit, HIIT, exercise dice, etc.) and find something that sounds interesting to you. It’s a lot harder to say no to something you are excited to try.
TURN ACCOUNTABILITY INTO A GAME
If you are the competitive-type, this one is for you!
Find a whiteboard, chalkboard, or even just a note on your phone and give yourself a tally mark for every day you remain on-track. If you slip-up, no biggie! This is your new high-score, so write it down and try to beat it the next go-around. Now tracking your accountability (which can be daunting) turns into a fun game!
Motivation comes from the perspective you look at your task with, so selecting one that is positive and fun will keep you from getting discouraged.
MOTIVATION – REWARD YOURSELF!
I do not need to tell you that staying motivated is hard. If you can accomplish your goal, you deserve a reward!
Find something you want (a new t-shirt, candle, video game, etc.) and use that as motivation to stay on track. Once you reach your goal, reward yourself! It’s helpful to set short-term goals with smaller rewards and long-term goals with larger ones to always keep you working towards something.
While goals are helpful to stay motivated, having something concrete to work towards will allow your progress to feel more tangible keeping you on track towards your motivation to exercise. Plus, who doesn’t love buying themselves a gift?
FORGIVE YOURSELF IF YOU SLIP-UP
This may be the most important advice I can give: just because you mess up once does not mean you have to quit permanently.
Everyone fails, it’s a part of being human! Just because you skip a work out (or a few) DOES NOT mean you are incapable or reaching your goals. Remind yourself of why you started working out in the first place and pinpoint what caused you to forgo your progress. Once you decide your goal is more important than your distractions, forgive yourself for getting distracted and jump right back into your routine (or, if the routine itself is what caused you to slip-up, pivot, and start a new one).
Harboring resentment for yourself is detrimental to your physical and emotional health and only makes achieving your goals harder. It takes work to learn to show kindness to yourself when you mess up, but it is so worth it!
Hopefully, these tips will help you find the motivation to exercise we all struggle with. Now, get up from that couch and start working on your inspiration board!