For many, the hardest part of working out isn’t running the last half mile or doing the final sit-up; it’s finding the motivation to get started. Do you ever wake up with every intention of popping in your Jillian Michaels DVD, only to find yourself checking email and Facebook until it’s time to hop in the shower? Or, do you plan to go to the gym after work, but fail to make it because you’re busy making dinner or walking the dog? Then, before you know it, it’s 9PM and you’ve fallen asleep on the couch wearing your yoga pants ?
If so, you’re not alone. But even with all of these excuses, there are ways to help discipline yourself. Here are five things to help you muster up the motivation to stick to your workout routine:
- Setting a goal: Without any endpoint in sight, it’s almost impossible to convince yourself why you should hop on the treadmill yet again. That’s why one of the best motivators is setting a tangible goal. For some, it may be signing up for a 5K or 10K. For others, it may be an upcoming beach vacation or high school reunion. Whatever it is, find something that’s no more than six months away to ensure you don’t lose steam as the finish line nears.
- Finding your fun: If running is not your cup of tea, you may have a hard time pushing yourself to hit the pavement, no matter how awesome your new playlist is. That’s why it’ so important to find something you love doing. Maybe it’s group classes at your gym. The more you enjoy yourself, and the less it feels like work, the more likely you will get out of bed for a Saturday morning class without being tempted to hit the snooze button. Not sure what you like? Try a variety of activities until you find one that you actually look forward to; whether it’s beach volleyball, hot yoga, spinning, Zumba or kickboxing, if you like doing it, you will be a lot less likely to skip it.
- Using the buddy system: If you have a roommate, coworker or spouse who wants to get in shape, make a workout plan together and help the other person stick to it. You could sign up for boot camp together, do P90X or start a softball team. Even if you don’t always work out together, make some guidelines or come up with a prize for the person that works out the most days or loses the most weight at the end of every month.
- Creating rewards: It’s been said that doing anything for three days in a row creates a new behavior or pattern. Rewarding yourself is a great way to reinforce those new patterns or routines. If you never reward yourself for your hard work, you’re not as likely to keep doing it. Set up weekly or monthly rewards for reaching your goals. It could be a new pair of shoes, tickets to a concert, or dinner at your favorite restaurant. Just don’t cheat – rewarding yourself even when you fall short of your goal could become a slippery slope.
- Giving yourself a break: If you wanted to lose five pounds last month and only lost three, don’t beat yourself up. Many factors contribute to weight loss, and even if you ran six days a week, you may not see the results you were hoping for. Don’t forget that some weeks you may be building muscle, which can also translate to fewer pounds lost on the scale. Try mixing up your routine next month or adjusting your diet until you find something that works. And always make sure to build in rest days to your schedule every week; no one is a machine and rest is just as important as exercise.
What workout motivators have worked for you?