Two weeks after new year’s eve the majority of those who made a resolution to exercise more have probably given up or are on a “break” from exercising. How does one stay motivated to do something that takes up time from an already busy schedule, that gets you even more tired on days when you already feel exhausted, and that leaves you so sore you don’t even want to get out of bed the next day? Here are a few methods that I personally use or were recommended by others that continue to work on themselves day after day.
1. Start Slow
The reality is, it is quite difficult to keep up with a routine especially when you are not used to working out or have taken a long “break” from exercise. Start slow but gradually add on to the routine. If you haven’t exercised for months or even years, trying a daily action packed routine is a quick way to burn out before you get started. It may be necessary to start with a 2 or 3 days of exercise per week and slowly transition your way into more workout days.
2. Workout with Friends or a Group of People with Similar Health Goals
A flock of birds can travel larger distances than if each bird was to travel alone. The same thing applies to humans. When we exercise with others, instinctively a competitive mindset kicks in which helps us work out longer or harder. Meeting with friends can even inspire on those days when you just don’t feel like exercising, especially if your friends are the type that will call you and push you to do it. It’s also great if you can be the one who pushes your friends when they start to feel sluggish. If you don know anyone willing to exercise with you, take your dog or a neighbors dog for a run. They love to explore outdoors and they will thank you for it.
3. Forget About the Scale
I have met so many people who run to the scale immediately after workouts and get frustrated with the lack of results. If possible avoid the scale completely and continue with your exercise. Keep in mind when you first get started you will begin to increase muscle mass at the same time that you are losing body fat. The weight gained can mask the body fat that you lose and if you weigh yourself on a daily basis, it could get frustrating not seeing any change. Instead, focus on the fact that you are improving your health by working out and even if you don’t see a difference in weight know that you will drop down sizes in the clothes you wear if you continue exercising long enough. Remember, it’s all about the compliments you receive from others and not about what an appliance says about you.
4. Exercise Early
One of the hardest things to do is exercise after a busy and stressful day at work. In the afternoons and evenings, everyone is awake and there are distractions coming at you from all angles. Wake up earlier than you normally do and exercise before you begin your day. In the morning your willpower is refreshed and there are fewer things that can interfere with you and your exercise routine. Plus, when you workout in the morning you don’t miss any of your afternoon and evening tv shows.
5. Rest and Recovery
Something contrary to what most would expect is being told to rest 1 or 2 days of the week for better results. Muscles get sore after working them out so you should change routines so you don’t workout the same muscle every day. Instead, focus on different parts of the body on each consecutive day and do 1 or 2 days of cardiovascular exercise. Resting involves getting a good night sleep which means if you exercise early then go to bed early. Also take 1 or 2 days off during the week where you don’t exercise. Taking a few days off will help you stay motivated in the long run, however, if you start gradually increasing days off you will eventually find it easier to stop your routine so be disciplined with your days off.
6. Motivate Yourself and Others That Exercise with You
It’s hard breaking bad habits and it’s even harder maintaining good ones. Keep pictures and messages that inspire you in areas where bad habits are lurking, like near the alarm clock, refrigerator, and the living room television. When you are exercising listen to motivational speeches and stay positive. Keeping a positive attitude requires a great deal of effort in most of us but a positive attitude also makes it easier to get past those hurdles that can deter negative people. It’s a lot harder to exercise when you are in a bad mood than when you are in a good mood.
7. Compete with Yourself
Every day try to push yourself to do a little more than the day before. Try to beat your best jogging time, the amount of reps you do, the weight that you lift every time you exercise. Make it a game or a challenge to always beat your previous accomplishment. Use the same competitive mentality with yourself as when you work out with others.
8. Set Short and Long-Term Exercise Goals
Most start exercising with an idea in mind on what they wish to accomplish. Set small goals along the path to that ultimate goal, example: reach a certain number of pushups, run a certain distance or amount of time..etc, Reaching those goals is inspiring and gives you results that you can see. Once you reach those small goals set new ones that will require you to push yourself just a little bit more and so on. It will surprise you how much easier it is to workout when you are so close to reaching a goal or breaking your last achievement.
9. Reward and Punish Yourself
Challenge your group so the first one to miss a day has to buy the rest of the group lunch. This can be extremely motivating especially when you have a large group or when you are not very fond of someone in your group and would hate nothing more than to have to buy that person lunch. Rewarding yourself for reaching or breaking goals with clothes that fit better or accessories to your apparel. Next time you see an item you want, hold off on buying it and instead use it as a motivator for reaching a goal you set. Once you reach that goal buying the item will feel like a prize for your accomplishment.
10. Eat Healthy
Eating junk food is not only bad for your health but it can also have psychologic effects. Junk food is associated with increased depression and an increased desire for resting or sleeping while at the same time a decreased desire to exercise. It’s bad enough to eat unhealthy but going to sleep immediately afterward is counterproductive. Your body will store the energy from the junk food and that means more body fat. on the contrary, eating healthier increases a healthier attitude that increases the desire to exercise. It is also associated with decreased levels of depression and increased confidence.
11. Listen to Music or Audiobooks
Listening to music or Audiobooks helps keep your mind off of how difficult or tiring your routine is. This will help you endure longer than you normally would because it eliminates te negative thinking that naturally occurs when we do something difficult. Audiobooks are especially powerful when you choose topics that can improve your knowledge. Working on your general health is important but when you can benefit by improving your mental capacity it is a huge benefit.
12. Make Exercise a Habit
Habits are hard to break and once you develop a habit out of exercising, it will begin to feel natural to go out and do your routine. Better yet, on those days when you don’t exercise, you will feel the need to do it the next day. It will eventually become an everyday thing that happens without even thinking too much about it. However, bad habits have a powerful attraction and once you get into the habit of missing days your good habits can be overcome by bad ones.
13. Avoid Alcohol and Smoking
It’s hard enough to push your body to its limits but when you limit the oxygen that enters your bloodstream by smoking and when your liver is not filtering adequately because it’s full of alcohol, reaching maximum potential can be difficult. The good news is that exercise can decrease smoking and alcoholic cravings. Many people have successfully quit the bad habit of drinking and smoking and replaced them with exercise.
I hope you enjoyed these tips and found them helpful. If you have any tips that you use that are not listed above please add them in the comments to help others stay motivated and continue on the path to healthier living.