Do you struggle to get yourself to the gym? Or maybe you want to exercise more, but the thought of working out in front of other people fills you with dread? Making time for more physical activity in your life is important — so many of us spend too much time sitting in cars, on couches, or in desk chairs. So, how do you develop an exercise habit and stick to it this time?
Motivation and inspiration are key when it comes to sticking to a regular exercise routine. And to see any real improvement, repetition and regularity are also essential. If you’re trying to exercise more, and lose weight in the process, this article is for you. We’re going to explore the 16 most effective ways to motivate yourself to get moving. You deserve to have the body you dream of!
1. Think about what you want to accomplish
Some of us exercise for the wrong reasons. Any reason that doesn’t hold meaning for us won’t hold up when we don’t feel like putting in the work. At the beginning of any new endeavor, it’s important to take some time to contemplate what you want out of it.
Maybe you don’t really care about numbers on a scale, but you’d like to be happier, more self-confident, and more comfortable in your body. Perhaps, deep down, you know you’re on the road to a serious disease, like diabetes, but you’ve been ignoring the problem. Getting honest with yourself can be difficult, but it will pay off. Your true motivations may even surprise you!
2. Set specific goals
Now that you know what you want to accomplish, identify some goals that will help you get there. Set both short-term and long-term goals. The more specific, the better.
Do you want to fit into your skinny jeans again? Figure out how many inches you need to take off your waist. Maybe you want to tone up your arms so they look great in tank tops. Set realistic weekly goals that you can measure and track. Something vague like “get great arms” is not a specific, measurable goal. But “do bicep and tricep exercises 3 times a week” is.
Small, attainable goals will help you track your progress along the way and keep you excited — especially as you start to see actual results!
3. Make a plan for your week
Most of us need discipline to exercise more. A set plan for the week — one that’s written down in a planner or in your Google calendar — might be exactly the kind of discipline you need. At the beginning of each week, schedule your workouts for each day. Treat these sessions as you would a business meeting or any other appointment. When you see your plan in writing, or get a notification from your phone, you’re much more likely to stick to the plan. Simply having a vague idea in your mind as to when you’ll workout is far less effective and easier to ignore. And because we’re creatures of habit, try to schedule your workout around the same time every day. Your innate rhythms will naturally get used to the new schedule.
4. Make workout prep time more efficient
If it takes too long to get ready for the gym session, bike ride or fitness class, you may lose motivation or give up entirely. So, make sure you’re prepping for workouts in an efficient way. You may want to pack a gym bag the night before. Or lay out your workout clothes and any other gadgets you need so that waking up and getting ready for your morning workout is fast and easy. Some people even sleep in their workout clothes so they can get up and get moving immediately. Streamlining your workout prep time will motivate you to get going. And you’ll be less likely to come up with an excuse for skipping out!
5. Exercise first thing in the morning
Morning exercise works for many people who lack motivation. If you commit to getting your workout finished first thing in the morning, you’re far more likely to keep your promise than you would later in the day. No matter how hard we try to stick to a schedule, unexpected events can derail our plans. If you have a meeting that runs long, or you get stuck in a traffic jam, or you’re just tired after a stressful day, exercise is likely to be the first thing you strike from your schedule.
But if you exercise first thing in the morning, surprises like these won’t interfere with your workout routine. What’s more, some studies show that working out in the morning results in better sleep later that night. And a better night’s sleep equals a better workout the following morning. It’s a win win! And one more benefit — some studies show early morning exercisers have less of an appetite throughout the day! Even if you don’t consider yourself a morning person, give it a try. Try working out around 7am. A study published in the Journal of Physiology shows that the act of working out around 7am could actually make you a morning person.
6. Go to bed early and wake up early
This tactic goes along with exercising in the morning. If you start going to bed earlier, you’ll naturally begin waking up earlier. This extra time in the morning help you get your workout in. No time-related excuses! Plus, you’ll start feeling better about yourself. Waking up early and crossing your workout off the day’s to-do list will make you feel accomplished and self-confident. And because exercise naturally enhances your mood, the outlook you’ll have on your day will be much brighter, too.
Start in small increments — change your bedtime by 30 minutes, then work up to an hour. To make it easier, plan ahead. Identify the things that keep you up too late — if you need to walk the dog, make your lunch for the next day, or get clothes ready for yourself or the kids, do everything earlier in the evening so when bedtime rolls around, you’re ready to hit the hay. Learn more tips for getting a good night’s sleep.
7. Commit to group classes
Some of us like to exercise solo, but others find more motivation working out in a group setting. Classes at your local gym, yoga, or dance studio are the best way to exercise more if you tend to do better when other people are there to help hold you accountable. Group classes are ideal for social people who need friendly faces who expect you to show up! What’s more, if you sign up and pay for classes in advance, you’ll be much more likely to show up than you would with pay-as-you go or drop-in classes.
Is there something you’d really like to learn? Think about what form of movement will inspire you. Yoga? Pilates? Barre? Salsa dancing? You may need to try out a few classes before you find your personal groove.
8. Find yourself a workout buddy
If you prefer one-on-one interaction, a workout buddy may be just what you need. The two of you can hold each other accountable and motivate each other to exercise more. Plus, this approach gives you some built-in social time. It can be hard to make time to catch up with friends, but if you have a standing date for exercise, you’ll be able to nurture those important relationships.
You’ll also be able to remind each other of your goals, share successes, and help each other determine when it may be necessary to make an adjustment or set a new goal. Make a pact that if one person is lacking in motivation for the day day, the other person will be in charge of motivation. This is what friends are for!
9. Aim for short workouts
Don’t fall for the idea that workouts have to be long and intense to be worth it. If you only have time for 10, 15, or 20 minutes of exercise some days, that’s perfectly fine! Short workouts have just as much value (and sometimes more) than longer ones. If you’ve ever done burst training or high intensity interval training (HIIT), you know the value in shorter workouts.
If you’re going to have a busier day than usual, take 10 to 20 minutes for some physical activity. Even a 7-minute workout can deliver surprising benefits! Get into the habit of doing some sort of activity every day. If you make an exception because you think you’re too busy, you’ll soon find yourself falling back into old sedentary patterns.
10. Keep track of your results
The daily and weekly goals you set will no doubt yield positive results as long as you follow through! Keep track of them in a notebook, planner, or tablet. Seeing physical proof of your progress will no doubt inspire you to stick with it!
Don’t just rely on the scale to track your progress. Your weight is just one metric, and it doesn’t tell you some of the most important factors — like how much muscle you gain or how much body fat you lose. Instead, take measurements to see how your body composition is changing over time. Photos are another great way to track changes that may not be visible to the naked eye.
11. Keep track of your efforts
It’s a real motivation to simply see what you’ve done. So, in addition to your results, simply record your workouts somewhere. That could be an app that gives you badges for sticking with your routine, or it could simply be a wall calendar. Draw a big red X over every day you work out. When you see that you’ve actually followed through on your plans, you’ll be much more likely to continue to make these positive lifestyle changes. Soon, they’ll be ingrained habits that won’t take nearly as much motivation and effort as they used to.
12. Use your lunch break for working out
Most of us don’t need an hour to eat lunch — especially if we’re not dining out. Plus, homemade lunches are typically much healthier, as long as you’re staying away from processed foods or so-called diet foods.
If your lunch break is the only time in the day when you have some free time, then use the first half of your lunch hour to work out. Those shorter workouts we mentioned before are perfect for the lunch break time slot! Other great options for your lunch break might be taking a walk outside, or walking up and down the stairs if you work in a tall building.
13. Give yourself a 5-minute start
For so many of us, just getting started is the hardest part. So tell yourself you’re going to exercise for a mere 5 minutes. You can do 5 minutes of anything! Chances are, once you’re moving, your energy will start to increase and you’ll want to continue. What a great way to trick your mind as the body takes over!
14. Allow room for failure
Putting too much pressure on yourself isn’t good in any situation — exercise included. So, allow some room for mistakes. Life happens. Things come up. If you miss a workout here and there, no biggy! Just get back on schedule the next day. Relax and embrace the fact that you’re going to have setbacks from time to time. That’s life! The important thing is to keep your eyes on the big picture — your long-term goals — even though your short-term goals may falter from time to time.
15. Be patient with yourself
It’s said that a lifestyle change takes about 40 days to really become a habit. If you’re new to regular, steady workouts, your routine may take some time to get used to. It’s important to be patient with yourself. There will be some days that are harder than others. You may not love it as first. Everything’s a process. If you truly want to make exercise a part of your daily routine, patience is key.
16. Treat yourself
Allow yourself treats from time to time — but try to get away from the mindset that a “treat” equals “food.” Maybe you can treat yourself to things that make it easier to stick to your workout routine, like a new pair of running shoes or a new fitness tracker.
Be careful about the temptation to “reward” yourself for engaging in healthy habits such as exercising regularly. This can create the mindset that your habit is something unpleasant to be suffered through, when really, achieving your fitness goals should be its own reward. But, a special treat that is related to your goal can give you something to look forward to — like a new outfit once you reach your goal weight!
At Elite Physique, we believe an equal balance of nutrition, activity, rest, and confidence is the foundation for achieving a healthier you. Our personalized weight-loss programs are custom-tailored to help you meet your goals and to address the underlying factors that can make weight loss difficult. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation!