Motivating Yourself to Exercise
Updated: Nov 26, 2020
For some reason a lot of people give up on exercise. They start a program or “commit” to creating a new habit and then after a few days or weeks they just give up. Sometimes it’s a conscious decision and they give up because they feel like it’s not working, or they don’t enjoy the exercises they’re doing. But sometimes it is subconscious, and they just get busy and the days slip away without time for exercise.
In my experience, consistency is the most important determinant to success. The ability to keep showing up over and over again, even when it’s hard or you’re busy or you don’t feel like it- that’s the important most valuable skill to cultivate.
So how do we stay motivated, how do we get ourselves to work out even when the initial excitement wears off? I’m here to give you some of my best tips for motivating yourself to work out.
Know your WHY. Dig deep inside yourself to find the thing that you’re working towards. What kind of life do you want to live? Everybody’s why is going to be different. Maybe you want to have more energy to run around with your kids or your grandkids, or maybe you want to be able to perform better at a certain sport or activity. Whatever it is, think about it often and make achievable goals working towards it. When the desire to skip a workout or give up altogether strikes remember that you have big dreams for your life and that exercise can help prepare you to live that life. Check out this blog post for some inspiration.
Have an accountability partner who knows and understands your why. Sometimes we all need external motivation. An accountability partner or a personal trainer (wink wink) can do just that. It’s even better if you can find someone to workout at the same time as you, whether in person or virtually. Most people are less likely to cancel on a friend than themselves.
Good music. When I’m not in the mood for a workout I might play my workout playlist while I’m putting my shoes on and this helps me get in the right head space. Plus, during your workout a good beat can really help you keep going. If you’re doing cardio I would challenge you not to keep a close eye on the clock but try to get wrapped up in each song that’s playing. It will make the time go by quicker and make you work harder without noticing.
Just start. Sometimes you just have to do the very first thing, like putting on your workout clothes. You can always tell yourself “maybe I’ll just do one set, or pick my favourite exercise, or I’ll just do 10 mins of cardio” and then once you’ve started you realize it’s not so bad and you decide to keep going. OR if you’re really hating it you can just stop but at least you’ve done SOMETHING which is always better than nothing.
Appreciate the small benefits of exercise while you work towards your larger goals. Count each benefit you notice as a win and that will help you want to keep going. Maybe you’ve noticed that you are less lethargic, or your arms feel stronger, or you can do more reps or lift heavier weights than last week. These are all wins and taking time to notice them and appreciate them can help you to keep coming back for more.
Find activities that you enjoy. You may have to try 20 different things before you find one that you can see yourself doing on a regular basis. The good news is there are thousands of options. You could try hiking, zumba, a gym, a home workout, jogging, any number of sports, martial arts, rock climbing, yoga etc. With so many options there is bound to be at least one way of moving your body that you could enjoy, or at least tolerate for the benefits.
Try again. And again. There is no need to give up altogether if you skipped a day, or three, or three years. Exercise is a life-long commitment with life-long benefits and you're better off starting and stopping a thousand times than to never try again.
Some days you’ll feel invincible and be able to put 110% of yourself into your workout, and some days you have to count it as a win that you managed to show up for your workout at all. That’s just how it goes. No one can be motivated all the time and that’s why you need discipline. Not every workout is going to be amazing, but every workout, no matter how feeble, will benefit your health.
Following these tips isn’t guaranteed to make you adhere to your program, that’s really up to you. But implementing these strategies can go a long way in helping you focus on the bigger picture while you put your head down and grind through one workout at a time.