- 6. Avoid making judgments about your day first thing in the morning.
- 7. Tell yourself you will only go to the gym for five minutes.
- 8. Start with something easy.
- 9. Break your workout into smaller chunks.
- 10. Choose your vocabulary wisely.
- 11. Embrace the small wins.
- Tricks To Help You Start Working Out And Stick To It
- 9 Tricks to Help You Start Working Out and Actually Stick to It
- Listen To Your Body & Don’t Be Afraid of Weights!
- Step By Step Exercises
- How To Get Yourself In The Mood For Training
- New Kit
- Make It Social
- Reward Yourself
- Do Your Favourite Things
- 11 Ways to Motivate Yourself to Go to the Gym
6. Avoid making judgments about your day first thing in the morning.
Say you wake up feeling stiff and lethargic. You remember you’ve signed up for a HIIT class that night and immediately begin dreading it. Yet instead of canceling it from your phone while still snuggled in bed, tell yourself that you’ll focus on simply getting through the work day and then reassess your workout plans when the time gets closer, says DiSalvo.
Maybe by the time 5:30 P.M. rolls around, you’ll be in the mood to release some of the day’s stress at HIIT. Or perhaps you’ll decide that HIIT isn’t for you today, but you’ll want to stretch it out in yoga instead. Or maybe, you’ll truly need a day off from the gym—and that’s totally fine, too. The bottom line is that you can’t make general assumptions about your day before it has even started, and by refraining from these types of snap judgments, you’ll end up attending more workouts than you miss. And you’ll be glad you did.
7. Tell yourself you will only go to the gym for five minutes.
Sometimes the thought of a workout can be much worse than the workout itself. On days when this mental malaise strikes, just commit to five minutes, or simply go to the gym with the intention of doing just one to two simple things. Once you get there, you’ll likely want to stay longer, says Mansour, though even if you don’t, you’ve still helped yourself get into the habit of going to the gym, which, by many counts is still a win, as it will ultimately help fitness become a more integrated part of your routine. Again, just showing up can be really powerful mentally.
8. Start with something easy.
Another trick that helps on days when you’re struggling with motivation is to lessen the intimidation factor by telling yourself that you’ll start easy. Do a longer warm-up, suggests DiSalvo, and then slowly build from there. If you want to run on the treadmill for 20 minutes, for example, tell yourself you’ll just do 1 minute to start, and then after completing that quick goal, reassess how you’re feeling. If you’re up for it, try another minute. From there, reassess again and try for another minute. Continue this pattern to build confidence in your abilities and ease yourself into a workout.
9. Break your workout into smaller chunks.
Instead of focusing on the total time of your workout or the intimidatingly high number of reps you’re hoping to accomplish (30 push-ups?! Eek!), redirect your attention to getting through the next 30 seconds, says Zadeh. “You can get strong 30 seconds at a time,” she says, and this division will reduce your workout into more mentally manageable chunks so that you can stay present, focused, and motivated.
10. Choose your vocabulary wisely.
When thinking about your workout—whether beforehand or during—use words with positive versus negative associations to describe how you might feel or are feeling. As an example, instead of considering the difficult moments of an exercise class as being “uncomfortable,” think of them as being “intense,” suggests Zadeh, which carries a more empowering, can-do mind-set while also acknowledging the difficulty involved. Shifting your vocab will help you adopt a more optimistic, I-can-do-it mentality that will power you through the tough parts.
11. Embrace the small wins.
Maybe your goal is to hold a plank for two minutes, and two weeks into your new workout routine, you’ve improved your ability from 20 seconds to 30 seconds. Even though you haven’t yet achieved your goal (and perhaps your goal still feels a long ways off), take pride in reaching this mini milestone along the way.
If getting active and staying healthy were easy, everyone would do it…but we don’t. We come home after a long day of sitting in a chair to de-stress by sitting in another chair, unable to summon the energy to take a walk or hit the gym. Sure, everyone says to “make time for what’s important to you,” but oversimplification doesn’t make the struggle easier. Let’s break down the mental walls keeping you from taking care of yourself.
We’ve shown you lots of great ways to get and stay active. Whether it’s the Lifehacker workout or our daily 20 minute workout generator, you have plenty of options if you’re not sure how to get active and get in shape. Combined with the personal trainer in your pocket (in the form of your Android or your iPhone), you have all the tools you need to get healthy. So why haven’t you?
Whether it’s time management, stress, a busy job, bustling family life, or something else, in this post we’re going to help you break down the barriers that may keep you from getting up and active. We sat down with some experts—people who have really motivated others—for their tips on how to do what you already know you should. When we’re through, you’ll be in the mental position to take advantage of the great fitness resources we’ve put together.
No Excuses: Tear Down Those Mental Walls
First of all, if you’re struggling with a sedentary lifestyle, you’re not alone. Millions of us are just like you, and we all know we should get moving, but we stumble and fall back into old habits or never get the traction you need. This is completely normal, don’t think anything otherwise. Very few people spring out of bed one day and say “I’m going to change my behavior for the better for the rest of my life,” do it, and never look back. In the real world things are different. Here are some things to remember:
- Don’t be too hard on yourself. Fitness expert (and Lifehacker contributor) Roger Lawson notes that we’re often our own biggest hurdle. “They’re simply too hard & expect too much from themselves; they think it has to be much harder than it has to be and when they don’t live up to the expectations they’ve set for themselves, it all begins to fall apart,” he explains. This is the cycle many of you know: you start something with good intentions, stumble, get frustrated, and give up. Be nice to yourself—stumbles and failures are going to happen, no one’s perfect. Photo by Richard Beatson.
- Don’t get caught up in the “all or nothing” mindset. Exercise doesn’t have to be complicated. Doing something is better than doing nothing. “Don’t let optimal be the enemy of good enough,” Roger says. “Sure, you could be doing more or could be doing better, but if in the long run that gets in the way of you doing anything at all then it’s not use to you. Do what you can do and do consistently then worry about optimizing later as you gain traction.” Remember, getting started is everything.
Understand how habits work. We’ve talked about the habit loop and how to break bad habits before, but it’s critical here. Richard Talens, co-founder of Fitocracy, your pick for , explains it like this: “Most people fail in fitness because they never enter a self-sustaining positive feedback loop. In fact, most people don’t even start. In order to be successful at fitness, it needs to be in the same category of the brain as sleeping, eating, and sex.” He explained that if exercise worked the way it does in the movies—where a montage plays and after every workout you look better and see results instantly, more people would stick to it. The key is to find a routine replacement that works for you, and that gets results for the energy you put into building it into your habits.
- You’re not lazy, you’re just starting from zero. One discouraging thing you’ve probably thought (or heard) before is that you’re just lazy and will give up eventually, so why bother. Richard dismissed this idea: “To say that people don’t exercise because they are lazy is actually backwards. Often times, people are actually lazy because they’re out of shape and don’t exercise!” He points out that it’s easy for someone in-shape to tell someone who’s having a tough time that they’re just lazy, but the truth is running a mile for a couch potato is far more difficult and requires more physical and mental will than it does for someone who does five every day. Recognize that, especially when you start down the slippery slope of comparing yourself—and your habits—to others.
Find your “Secret Sauce”. A lot of people will tell you to “just put the fork down,” or “just get up and do it,” which is easy when that person a: isn’t you, and b: is sitting behind a keyboard. Don’t listen to them: minimizing and oversimplifying the challenge doesn’t help, and while hearing what worked for others can help you figure out things to try, it’s almost never going to be exactly what works for you. Look for your own combination of tools, tips, techniques, and advice that will support you and your health and fitness goals. Accept advice, sure, but remember you’re in this for you—no one else, and you’re the only one who’ll know what really works. Photo by Riley Kaminer.
Remember, health and wellness are extremely personal sciences. You’ll be assaulted on all sides by articles, scams, self-help books, poorly-reported scientific studies, internet commenters, and more who all claim they know what will work for you—and it usually boils down to what worked for them (which is great!) or what they’re willing to sell you (which is not so great.) Having an abundance of options isn’t a bad thing, but remember who you’re in this for.
Stay Motivated and Engaged to Stick With Your Plan
So what does work? Well, there’s more information and advice out there than you could ever possibly use, but the key is to figure out what you’ll stick with, so don’t be afraid to experiment! Just remember what we said: if you stumble or falter, that means you just need to try something new or start slower—not that there’s something wrong with you. Try some of these suggestions:
Set the Bar Low and Start Small. The first time I started working out, I decided to exercise daily for a half hour. Sounds good, right? Well, starting from zero to every day worked well for a while, but when I had to miss a day because I worked late, was sick, or my schedule changed, I felt terrible. Eventually I gave up, and beat myself up over it until I could get motivated to start again. Don’t make the same mistake—if you’re having trouble with every day, start with twice a week, or once. Whatever it is, start with something you can definitely do effortlessly. This is where suggestions like parking on the far end of the lot and taking the stairs come into play. Try these minimal daily exercises on for size.
“Instead of setting out to exercise 5-6 times a week, aim to do 1-2 times – consistently,” Roger says. “Set the bar low so that you can build up initial success and build the self confidence and examples of winning that you’ll need once things get harder.” Derek Flanzraich, CEO and Founder of Greatist, agrees: “On Sunday nights, schedule your workout times into your calendar for the rest of the week. That removes a ton of excuses— you’ll rarely, if ever, really ‘just fit a workout in’ when you’ve got a free moment. You’re too busy! Schedule it in advance and it’ll be top of mind!” The time for ambitiousness is after you have a track record of success. Remember, we’re trying to get started, and getting started is hard enough.
Whatever You Do, Make It Fun. Roger couldn’t stress this enough, and neither can we. Whatever you do, enjoy it. Choose something rewarding enough to make you feel good about doing it. If you’re having a good time, Roger noted, mistakes feel like learning experiences and challenges to be overcome, not throw-up-your-hands-and-give-up moments. This is one reason that he—and we—love sites like Fitocracy, the Mindbloom Life Game (which we’ve highlighted before), and Superbetter, which also adds a game-like element to wellness. Photo by Richard Coshott.
Derek suggests picking a fun challenge designed for people in your shoes. Stuck on the couch? Try the Couch to 5K running plan! Maybe a mud run or martial arts class would be more up your alley. Whatever it is, make sure it’s something you’ll have a great time doing, and is low-enough impact that you can get in, keep up, and slowly challenge yourself as it progresses.
Join Communities that Build Positive Habits. Speaking of Fitocracy, Richard explained that services like Fitocracy do so well because they offer consistent, positive rewards for sticking to your guns. Even if you don’t see results in the mirror right away—and you won’t—a site like Fitocracy rewards you with levels, badges, and other treats that keep you engaged and motivated to do better. That’s all great, but Richard explained it’s really just a carrot to get you to the real prize: the community. “Wanna know our dirty little secret? I haven’t really told this to any journalists explicitly, but points don’t help all that much in the long run. They’re merely a gateway drug that gets you involved into the community.” Don’t get caught up in counting calories and tracking steps walked that you miss out on how powerful a community, a workout buddy, or family and friends, rooting for us can be. It can make all the difference.
Use Technology Wisely: To Recount Your Victories. Technology can be a huge benefit to help you see your progress in a way that looking in the mirror won’t show you. Our own Adam Pash got in shape with the help of the right gear, and Roger suggests keeping a calendar as a visual track of your victories. Each time you stick to your plan, whether it’s diet, exercise, or both, mark it on the calendar. Sound familiar yet? That’s right, it’s Seinfeld’s Productivity Secret, or “Don’t Break the Chain.” The goal is to keep that track record, whether it’s on a calendar, in an app, or on a website, going unbroken as long as possible. Just remember, quantifying your efforts is just a method to get feedback and track your progress. Your tech should be a means to building better habits, not the habit in itself. Photo by Yusuke Kawasaki.
You’ll notice we haven’t given you a workout routine or exercise plan to follow here. That’s because we’ve done that before several times. You can take those workouts and start today, but before you do, make sure you’re in a place mentally where you’re set up for success. In a few months, you don’t want to still feel miserable every time you begin a workout, or know you have to work out today—it should be second nature, just something you do, like taking a shower or doing the laundry.
Derek reminded us that the turning point for him—and likely for many of us—is when we realize that we’re in total control of our choices—not someone else who with a fad diet or book to sell—and that can be incredibly empowering. Once you make that realization, Roger notes that you should always remember where you are now when it comes to health and fitness. Whether it’s diet or exercise, being honest with your current situation will keep you from being too ambitious and setting yourself up for failure, or from giving up entirely. “Begin where you are, not where you want to be. Becoming overwhelmed initially is the fastest way to halt all progress. As you get better, do better, and not a moment sooner.” We couldn’t agree more.
Roger Lawson is a fitness expert and the man behind Rog Law Fitness. You can find him on Twitter at @RogLaw, on Facebook at Rog Law, and subscribe to his YouTube channel, RogLawFitness.
Richard Talens is the Co-Founder and Chief Growth Officer at Fitocracy, a fitness tracking site and social network that’s makes tracking your exercise a real-world game that’s fun to play. You can find him on Twitter at @dicktalens.
Derek Flanzraich is the Founder and CEO of Greatist, an amazing resource for health and fitness news and tips. You can find him on Twitter at @thederek, and follow Greatist at @greatist.
All three volunteered their expertise for this post, and we thank them.
Title photo made using Leremy ().
Tricks To Help You Start Working Out And Stick To It
Do you wish to begin caring for your body fitness? Are you finding it hard to stick to your workout schedule?
No worries, here are some tips that will help you start working out and stick to it. Read on for tricks to help you start working out and stick to it.
Ascertain the type of workout you enjoy
As spinning may not be everybody’s cup of tea, neither can be CrossFit or kettlebell. Everybody likes to perform different genres of exercising. The prime thing that makes you stick to the workout is the fondness of doing it. Your liking for nature, playing sports, group settings are the few elements that influence the affection of an exercise. Selection of criteria is yet another consideration for selecting a particular workout.
Choose comfortable workouts
Everybody is not good at performing all sorts of exercises, nor are they able to perform the same workouts. Individuals are good at performing varying activities. Moreover, performing their preferred chores make them confident and relaxed.
Performing your favourite activity doesn’t mean that it can get accomplished effortlessly. You need to mark the minutest points for each workout to make it effective. If you were an athlete as a kid, recontinuing the sport may also be an excellent startup plan, as well as a huge confidence booster. You can also join the activity which you always aspired to join.
Mark it on the schedule
Endeavour by taking out a portion of time for workout daily. Attempting by making severe changes in the daily plan may end up in exercising failures. Initially, you can also start by marking three days that can get gradually increased as per your convenience.
A lesser span activity
An increased time workout may not be a good option in the initial stage. Plan for small pieces of workout regime that you can extend as per your convenience. You can even club together the whole day workout to make it a full.
Set your goals
A bunch of mini-goals is what achieves your long term goals. You can set goals to reduce certain kgs or inches in a few weeks that will combine to achieve the desired goal. You can switch schedules or workouts not to get bored executing the same activity. Whatever goals you set, be sure that you be realistic while setting those goals.
Morning is the best workout time. Accomplishing the task in the morning makes it easier to imbibe the exercising habit among individuals. If you plan to work out during the day, you may get indulged in other activities that may demand to skip the liveliness.
The a.m. exercise also yields other benefits such as lower night-time blood pressure and enhance sleep quality. It also keeps you energized throughout the day and centres to tackle the duties at ease.
The workout clothes
Choose the affordable women’s gym wear online when you conclude to begin exercising. Mornings can be quite easy for working out as you can change and get freshen up before you start your daily schedule. But if you choose to work out after the office hours, make sure to carry the exercising essentials in the gym bag. Girls should make sure that they buy cheap sports bras online while boys purchase the sport performance underwear for the workout.
Hop on the music
Listening to songs while working out is the best solution to energize. It even helps you work for an extended period. It is because music helps to boost your mood and encourage a rhythmic movement. It is suggested to work out hearing faster music to the slow music.
Take home message
As you have learned the tricks on starting gyming schedule and sticking towards it, order online the gyming essentials and begin working out without delay.
One of the challenges many San Antonio nonprofits currently face is a shortage of volunteer labor to support their missions. There are a multitude of reasons for the shortage, but volunteer labor is essential to the nonprofit sector because motivated volunteers can accomplish incredible amounts of work free of charge in a fraction of the time it would take nonprofit employees.
Fortunately, San Antonio is now home to a novel and innovative nonprofit that helps address this shortage by promoting volunteerism in a fun and rewarding manner. The nonprofit is called Work Out Help Out (WOHO). By incorporating unique elements into the framework of each volunteer event, WOHO effectively benefits not only the community at large, but the individual volunteer as well. This nonprofit model has engendered an infectious culture of excitement, altruism, and optimism that will propel the city of San Antonio forward into a new era of volunteerism.
Despite the profound impact volunteers can have on their community, participation rates remain low. Volunteer labor may be free for organizations and the community, but the cost for the volunteer comes in the form of time, which is becoming increasingly precious in the 21st century. In response to this, WOHO created a volunteer event environment that is short in duration and integrates exercise, music, socialization, and healthy meals. By combining multiple contributors to a healthy and fulfilling life into the fabric of every event, WOHO aims to transform public health and wellness on multiple levels.
Because WOHO events are designed explicitly to promote volunteerism, there are few parameters limiting who receives help. From larger organizations like Morgan’s Wonderland and the San Antonio Food Bank to individuals who just need a helping hand, WOHO is there to supply volunteers. Furthermore, WOHO has established partnerships with like-minded organizations to offer its volunteer community better value on commodities that bolster a healthy lifestyle. WOHO also utilizes one of the country’s first mobile apps designed exclusively for connecting volunteers with nonprofit organizations.
A student at The Academy at Morgan’s Wonderland shows his support for WOHO. Credit: Courtesy / WOHO
To further elucidate what a volunteer can expect at a WOHO event, let’s take a look at a recent example. WOHO contacted the San Antonio Food Bank to set up an event in early November. After confirming the details of the event, WOHO posted the event across its multiple platforms – the WOHO volunteer community database, Facebook, Instagram, Volunteermatch, Meetup, UTSA GivePulse, and its mobile app.
More than 90 volunteers registered to attend the event, and 61 volunteers participated in the end. For two hours, the group completed projects like planting and harvesting vegetables at the Food Bank’s garden, removing invasive weeds, and shucking ears of corn for future fall projects.
The group was divided into three groups of approximately 20 individuals, and groups alternated between the Work Out and Help Out components of the event. While two groups were performing the Help Out projects mentioned above, the third group was led through a series of exercises by WOHO President Paul Rezaei. Exercises included pushups, jumping jacks, squats and more – all scaled to individual ability level.
“Tremendous … In two hours (volunteers) did a month’s worth of work while taking breaks to workout,” one Food Bank representative remarked at the completion of the project.
Each WOHO event is uniquely based on the person or organization being helped, however, this example illustrates a typical volunteer experience with WOHO.
Rezaei and a close friend created WOHO in 2013, although at the time it was known as Fit Community. As the organization grew, Rezaei and his team decided to file for nonprofit 501(c)(3) status in 2014, and shortly thereafter they changed the name to Work Out Help Out. Since then, many pivotal changes have shaped the organization as volunteers know it today, including the addition of a new board of directors and staff members, improved digital communication capacity, and financial support from volunteers. While participating in The Big Give San Antonio 2016, WOHO was able to fundraise money to purchase branding material, equipment and tools for volunteer events, and healthy meals to offer its volunteers following each event.
The underlying intent of WOHO is to change public perception of physical activity, community service, and personal wellness. WOHO believes that in order to do so, it is necessary to unite volunteers across age groups, fitness levels, cultures, ethnicities, sexes, and religions for a common cause – serving the greater good. In order to support these beliefs and make strides toward a brighter future, WOHO has begun tracking its volunteer data, which now boasts impressive statistics for its second year of operation. In 2015, WOHO has:
- Provided the city of San Antonio with almost 2,000 volunteer hours.
- Helped more than 20 different individuals/organizations.
- Hosted more than 30 volunteer opportunities.
- Raised more than $1,000 for the benefit of other nonprofits.
- Welcomed an average of 30 volunteers to each event.
The future of WOHO is bright as new opportunities sprout daily. As event attendance continues to snowball, WOHO is looking to expand within San Antonio by opening more branches. In fact, WOHO has recently opened branches in other major Texas cities. WOHO Dallas recently hosted its first volunteer event, while WOHO Austin and WOHO Houston are set to host their first events in January 2017. It is the hope of WOHO to eventually make international appearances into countries and cultures that would also benefit from a WOHO vision.
With more financial support from businesses and corporations that share similar passions for volunteerism and personal wellness, WOHO will be able to further improve its size and scope. For example, the addition of a physical location would be imperative in storing organizational assets and conducting business operations. Furthermore, financial support would allow for WOHO board members and staff to be compensated for their time, thereby allowing for more time to be invested back into the organization. As of the publication of this article, all WOHO board and staff members offer their time and talent pro bono.
Given the current climate in the United States, organizations like WOHO have an enormous capacity to impact interpersonal dynamics within the community. When people come together for the greater good, barriers are eliminated that would otherwise be present in typical social situations. Personal differences cease to matter when everyone is working toward a common goal in which completion of that goal relies predominantly on the cooperation of the team.
Technological advances have afforded marvelous opportunities to increase productivity, and capitalism in the U.S. is the epitome of this notion; however, oftentimes the extra hours worked seeking heightened productivity go hand in hand with less time with friends, family, and loved ones. The peril is that we become more productive and wealthier while we simultaneously sabotage our health and quality of life by eliminating something that is critical for optimal wellness – human connection.
The success of WOHO is a direct reflection of the spirit of the local community members involved with the program. By fomenting a refreshing volunteer culture, WOHO is closing the currently expanding gap between nonprofits and volunteers.
To get involved or join the WOHO volunteer community, click here. Download the WOHO mobile app “Legacy Founder” and search “Work Out Help Out” to view and register for upcoming events. Contact [email protected] for further inquiries and information on how to start a new WOHO in your local community.
9 Tricks to Help You Start Working Out and Actually Stick to It
Work out in the morning and get it done. Getty Images
You know you should exercise. But how do you keep up your dedication to the gym or a training routine when your schedule is overloaded with a million other things from work to household responsibilities to travel and other social engagements? Or how do you push yourself to start working out if it’s been years (or basically forever) since you last had a good self-imposed sweat?
Understanding the big picture of why physical activity is critical for your physical and mental well-being, not just for weight loss, is a good place to start.
Ever experience that classic “runner’s high”? It’s not just in your head. Exercising releases hormones called endorphins that promote feelings of euphoria and help you focus. (1) Working out also improves cardiovascular health and sleep quality, both of which improve your energy levels throughout the day and reduce the risk of a variety of other diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and some cancers, according to research published in April 2015 in the Journal of Sleep Research. (2)
Moving your body more is also associated with a reduced risk of depression, according to a recent review of decades of research published in the January 1, 2016, issue of the journal Cognitive Behavior Therapy. (3)
Pretty impressive. But the truth is, you may have all this knowledge and still find yourself wanting to hit the snooze button when it comes to those early morning workouts — or your couch if you’re an afternoon exerciser.
That’s why intentional, strategic habit changes, based on your personality, schedule, likes, and dislikes can make all the difference in whether or not you stick to your workout plans or get thrown off track.
We asked sports psychologists to share their top tips for finding a workout you’ll actually enjoy and sticking with it for the long haul. Here’s what they say.
1. Find a Workout You Enjoy and Look Forward To
Just because all your friends love spinning or CrossFit doesn’t mean you do, too. Finding a workout you genuinely like will make you that much more likely to stick with it over time, says Kristen Dieffenbach, PhD, an executive board member of the Association for Applied Sport Psychology and an associate professor at West Virginia University’s College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences in Morgantown.
“Begin by really thinking about the things you enjoy — nature, group settings, playing sports, quiet time, or being challenged. Then look for activities that meet one or more of your criteria,” she says.
Consider your personality, too, suggests Dr. Dieffenbach. Do you like competition? Then working out with a friend who challenges you or taking a group fitness class may be helpful. Do you like immediately seeing the results of your efforts? Then workouts associated with an app that tracks your progress, like Strava for running and cycling, may be very motivating.
2. Pick Workouts That You’re Good At
“We know from motivation research that humans have a desire to be ‘good’ at something,” says Brandonn S. Harris, PhD, an associate professor and the program director of Sport and Exercise Psychology at Georgia Southern University School of Health and Kinesiology in Savannah and Statesboro. “So I’d encourage people to not only seek out things they find pleasurable and enjoyable, but also things that they’re confident doing or would like to become more proficient in.”
That doesn’t mean the activity will necessarily be easy for you. Unless it’s an activity recovery day, every workout should push you in terms of endurance or muscle building. But, there’s no need to struggle through a Zumba class because you hate memorizing the combinations.
On the other hand, if you excelled in sports as a kid, joining an adult basketball or soccer league may be a huge confidence booster (as well as deliver all the health and fitness benefits of a workout). Or if there’s a physical skill you’ve always wanted to be able to do, such as self-defense, you may love suiting up for kickboxing or jiu-jitsu.
It’s easy to talk yourself out of exercising. Even when you have the best intentions to work out, excuses are so easy to find — “I’m too tired,” or “I’m busy,” or “The weather is bad.”
The right attitude and a few tricks can keep your fitness routine on track. Use these tips to stay in the game:
1. Do it for yourself. Studies show that people who are “externally motivated” — that is, they hit the gym just to look good at your class reunion — don’t stick with it. Those who are “internally motivated” — meaning they exercise because they love it — are the ones who stay in it for the long run.
2. Take baby steps. You would never try to run 10 miles on day one, right? When you do too much too soon, you’ll end up sore, injured, and discouraged. Take it easy as you get started. Maybe you only run a quarter of a mile your first week. When that becomes easy, you can make it more challenging.
3. Hang tough. No one has perfect form the first day of strength training. Every workout takes practice. You’ll get the hang of it if you keep making an effort.
4. Mix it up. Do different types of workouts to keep things interesting and to exercise different muscle groups. If the elliptical machine is usually your thing, hop on the stair climber for some cardio instead. Also, switch between machines and free weights when you strength-train. You don’t have to reinvent your entire routine every week, but you do want to shift it around a little.
5. Don’t be your own drill sergeant. Half of all people who start a new exercise program ditch it within the first year. It often happens because they can’t keep up the boot-camp pace they’ve forced on themselves. It’s better to work within your limits, and gradually get stronger.
6. Bring a friend. When your inner demons order you to hit the couch instead of the treadmill, a workout partner can steer you back in the right direction. It’s easier to bail out on the gym than on the friend who waits for you there. Studies show you’ll also work out longer when you have a pal along.
By Alexandra Black Larcom MPH, RD, LDN, Senior Manager of Health Promotion & Health Policy at IHRSA
During the month of January, health and fitness is top of mind for people setting resolutions for a healthy new year. Google searches for fitness peak at the beginning of the year (Figure 1), and according to data from the International Health, Racquet, and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA), 10.8 percent of all health club members join their gyms in January. Yet many who embark on fitness resolutions in the new year struggle to stick with their new habit, and as many as 80 percent of resolutions fail by February.
Figure 1. Google search trends for “fitness”
While health professionals can’t completely guarantee the success of their patients or clients, there are a few things we can do to set them up for success as they seek to adopt a new exercise habit. Studies have identified several factors linked to better exercise adherence in various groups of people. Here we present five factors that we can use to help patients and clients stick to their resolutions all year long.
The best type of physical activity is the one you’ll keep doing. One study found that among previously inactive people with obesity who tried high-intensity functional training, those who enjoyed the exercise at baseline were more likely to stick with it and to continue doing similar exercise after the study. Health professionals should encourage patients and clients to try different types and combinations of physical activity until they find something they enjoy. People should also feel comfortable exploring different types of physical activity if they get bored with something. It’s important to note that the type of exercise or physical activity someone prefers is not as important as how much time they regularly spend performing that exercise. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous aerobic physical activity each week, along with at least two days of muscle-strengthening activity for health benefits.
Aside from time and cost, intimidation and lack of knowledge about what to do in a gym are commonly cited as barriers to exercise and reasons for quitting. In a study of people with coronary artery disease, both self-directed motivation and self-efficacy were important determinants of short-term (6-month) exercise adherence. To boost self-efficacy, people can seek support from gym staff, a personal trainer, or friends, to build their knowledge around exercise technique and workout structures. People can also seek online resources from certified fitness professionals with instructions, videos, and templates. Group fitness is another way to build self-efficacy. Learning yoga, weight lifting, cycling, or functional training in a coached group setting can better prepare people to be active on their own and feel confident in doing so.
It is often easier to stick to a habit or behavior when your social and family network is supportive. In a study of 100 middle-aged and older adults, social support—in addition to pain and perceived benefits of exercise—predicted adherence to a 12-month, at-home exercise program. It is important for people to build – and health professionals to encourage and facilitate – social support for physical activity. People can do this by inviting friends and family to join in the new exercise habit and/or seeking out new social opportunities with people who share an interest in the same activities. Health professionals can encourage partner or group workouts, or refer them to walking or other active groups in the community. People are a lot more likely to stick with exercise if their friends are there too.
Along with support, accountability can also be a motivating factor for many. A qualitative study with a group of middle-aged women indicated that accountability was one of several factors that enabled exercise. Research has shown that people who exercise in groups are more likely to see results. People can establish accountability by working out with a friend or two, or a coach. Sharing their exercise journey online can also build accountability. For instance, if someone posts on Facebook about going to the gym, he or she might be more likely to actually go.
Integration into the daily routine
Lack of time is often cited as a barrier to physical activity, but it doesn’t have to be. Planning ahead is a great way to help overcome this barrier. In the same study of women mentioned in the previous section, having a daily routine that incorporated physical activity also helped enable regular exercise. Health professionals can encourage patients and clients to schedule weekly workouts in their calendar to make sure it fits into their day. Workouts can also be broken up into smaller blocks to better fit into the day. For example, someone could spend one hour in the gym, or they could spend 30 minutes in the gym and take two 15-minute brisk walks throughout the day.
Taking up a physical activity habit can be challenging, but health professionals can encourage people to find activities that they enjoy, build skills and confidence safely, find social support and accountability, and fit physical activity into their daily routine. These practices can help new fitness enthusiasts stick to their New Year’s resolutions for years to come.
I am constantly reading to keep myself inspired, because motivation will wane. You can count on that. Finding a new skillset is always a wonderful way to challenge your mind and body. I am currently reading Atomic Habits, and it’s been a game changer for the way I move through my days. Harness a passion for learning new things and you’ll always be able to turn back the clock.”
—Nicole Sciacca, yoga teacher, certified personal trainer with clients including Jennifer Aniston, Chief Yoga Officer of Playlist Yoga
“Knowing the science behind an early morning, pre-breakfast workout might just motivate you to become an early bird and get that workout out of the way. Working out first thing in the morning on a nearly empty stomach is ideal because it forces your body to jump-start its metabolism for the day, and will actually help break down stored fats. A moderate 20-25 minutes of cardio is sufficient.
Studies show that most benefits from a workout occur within the first 25 minutes to stimulate your anabolic and metabolic system — a.k.a. build muscle and burn fat — so why work out more? If you work out on a completely empty stomach — without caffeine and any water — you risk not having enough energy to make it through, which will force your body to burn muscle rather than sending the signal to start burning fat.
Additionally, cardio in the morning boosts your heart rate not only during your workout, but for the remainder of your day. Thus, your resting heart rate will be faster throughout the day, affecting the way your body processes food, and allowing you to burn about 300 to 400 more calories while at rest, therefore helping to lose weight. If you wait until midday to workout, you will only burn what you’ve eaten during the day, and the first 25 minutes you spend working out will only burn off sugar from meals you consumed beforehand, so it’s better to bite the bullet early. Bonus mental note: When you think about how much time you sit at your desk or in traffic during your commute, a 25-minute workout is only 1.7 percent of your entire 24 hour day — now that doesn’t sound like such a huge amount of time to dedicate to a workout!”
—Sebastien Lagree, personal trainer with clients including Rihanna and Sofia Vergara, and founder/CEO
“Mantras are an incredible and easy way to help us navigate our days. By repeating mantras, often we’re investing in a small commitment with a huge payoff. We’re helping to build a deeper sense of joy, meaning, and purpose within ourselves, which affects our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. I find mantras key to my approach to fitness, because it helps me hold myself accountable, boosts my feeling of self-worth and self-esteem, and is one of the things that will actually get me to the gym, or to the hiking trail, or on my yoga mat. Because we all know that showing up is the hardest part. Here are some of my favorite mantras to help keep you on track with your fitness goals and motivated throughout the day:
Morning: Universe, please take me through this day with grace.
Wake up and quietly say this out loud before your feet hit the ground. There’s no finer word then ‘Grace.’
Daytime: Live in Neutral.
This mantra means that no matter what happens, good or bad, we should bring our attitude back to neutral. A healthy sense of detachment is a key to a beautiful life.
Evening: Destination: Nirvana.
This mantra prepares us for a calm sleep. After lights out and our deepest breath of the day, repeat this mantra three times.”
—Kirschen Katz, yoga instructor with clients including Reese Witherspoon, Michelle Williams, and Laura Dern
“To make a resolution stick, be realistic with yourself. Start with an understanding of who you are. You know yourself better than anyone, and you know what you’ll do. The problem a lot of people have with fitness resolutions is they try to go from zero to world class athlete. They set a goal to do six days a week in the gym when they’re starting from nothing. If you don’t have a workout plan, start with something manageable and attainable. Instead of doing six to seven days in the gym, start with two to three days. Build up that consistency, and over time, you’ll see the results.
Couple that with a reward system, as in: ‘If I follow through with three days a week for a whole month, I’ll reward myself with…’ Reward systems work well for adults because they respond to working toward something and they’ll actually show up for it. Make the reward something meaningful to you, and see the impact of 12 workouts a month versus where you started.
If you don’t have a chance to get to the gym or get outside, set your watch for 20-minute intervals throughout the day. Get up and do something manageable where you are. Something like 20 pushups or 20 squats with a focus on improving your form. By doing that throughout the day, it’ll grow to something significant in your overall fitness. It’s better to be active throughout the day with small targets than to go to the gym for an hour and then sit around the rest of the day.”
—Marc Megna, founder of the Megna Method and co-owner of Anatomy Fitness
“The best way to revolutionize your New Year’s resolution is to get real! Fitness and health resolutions must be attainable and sustainable. Starting with a goal that is realistic is the key to success. For most Americans, the new year hits, and we earnestly scramble for a lofty resolution and, though admirable, that is setting the bar too high. It is a ‘0 to 60’ moment that is not reasonable because we just spent the holiday socializing, eating, and drinking. Many have completely fallen off the fitness wagon.
Once you decide on a resolution — write it down. Writing is real, and it is an important mental connection. Next, break down your goal into small parts or goals. For instance, tell yourself, ‘I am going to commit to some form of movement or exercise four days per week.’ Some days, it may be as simple as increasing your steps. Each time you succeed, your brain’s reward center will trigger a dopamine reaction setting, putting you on track for your next goal. I recommend sharing your plan with a friend, because it helps to keep you more accountable. Prepare for a setback. We all have them, so be ready to accept that you are human! Not every step is going to be perfect, so focus on the big picture and your progress. Believe in yourself — long-lasting change and benefits are possible. And embrace the journey!
My favorite Dalai Lama quote sums it up: ‘Man sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. Then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present or the future; he lives as if he is never to die, and the dies having never really lived.’”
—Dempsey Marks, fitness expert and creator of the PEAK PHYSIQUE program
“Rely on habit, rather than on willpower, which too often fades in the moment. I find it helps to have a routine, so I do my workouts at more or less the same times on the same days every week. I also write every session on my calendar. That way I think of workouts as appointments with myself. I’m flexible when I need to be, but I stick with Plan A unless something compels me to do otherwise. Having an exercise buddy who’s expecting you to show up will also reduce the temptation to skip a session.
Target small, steady improvements rather than a radical makeover. Start with what you can do, and gradually raise the bar on one exercise or activity at a time. Going for small changes is a sustainable approach that can lead to big results over time. It also translates into short-term goals, which let you celebrate small wins and help you stay on track toward longer term goals.
Make a conscious effort to change how you think about exercise. Part of the problem is the very word ‘exercise.’ It often makes people groan inwardly as they anticipate forcing themselves to do something grueling and unpleasant. My breakthrough came when I stopped thinking ‘exercise,’ and started thinking ‘movement.’ We need to remember that our bodies are made to move, and movement is fun! Just watch kids on a playground, or a group of seniors at a Zumba class. Here’s another mental shift that works for me: Instead of thinking, ‘I have to go to the gym today,’ I tell myself, ‘I get to go the gym today.’ Change just one word, and you have a completely different mindset.
Build fitness into your self-image. Think of yourself as strong and resolute — the kind of person who makes smart lifestyle choices, has clear goals, and follows through. Believe it, and you will become it! The more you think of fitness as part of who you are, the more likely you will be to stick with it and succeed over the long haul.”
—Jim Owen, author of Just Move! A New Approach to Fitness After 50 and producer of the upcoming documentary The Art of Aging Well
“Connecting to a deeper purpose captures the power and determination of our emotional body to see our goals through to fruition. For instance, if you want to lose weight to get healthy or build confidence, be specific about why, and what it will look like in your life. Will it affect your interactions, how you feel in your body, your confidence, how you move, how you see yourself, your health, or your ability to live long and appreciate life? Try to attach a feeling or picture to it in your mind — something simple that you can come back to quickly and often. Then, before you get out of bed each morning — or anytime you remember — take a minute to visualize what your day ahead would look like with that quality. For extra stamina, you can also post a reminder of that quality or picture somewhere you won’t miss it. For instance, if you really want to lose weight so you feel better and live longer, then post a picture of someone you love that you want to enjoy life with, as a symbol of the happiness it represents. Or if you want to get healthy to build the confidence to build a life you love, post a pic of something you might do or somewhere you might go in that life you want to build as the wallpaper on your phone.
Less is more: Start with just 10 minutes a day of movement you enjoy. The habits we stick with have the biggest impact on our long-term health, so start simple to create a lasting habit you can commit to. Also, if you find something you enjoy, you’ll be much more likely to stick to it then forcing yourself to do something you hate.”
—Tiffany Cruikshank, L.Ac. MAOM, founder of Yoga Medicine®
“Most people have an all-or-nothing mentality when it comes to keeping resolutions. All that ambitious goal-setting with hopes of an all new you feels good at the start, but ultimately isn’t consistently achievable.
The key to setting goals that stick is to make realistic, specific, time-oriented goals that you keep yourself accountable to. For example, if you currently workout one time a week, and your goal is five times a week, split the difference and start with the goal of three times a week for the first two weeks. Once you hit that, then start to amp it up. Starting with bite-size goals that you can hit is the way to go. Another great hack to keep accountable for your movement is to book your workout schedule a week in advance, and treat those times like priority meetings with a CEO. Set a calendar alert, don’t flake, and come prepared! Even if you’re not in the mood, one percent of something is 100% better than nothing. Extra credit: Invite a friend to work out with you so that you can’t bail last minute.
Finding small ways to incorporate movement into your day is always a win: take the stairs, walk the longer route, set your alarm to get up and move so that you don’t get into a sitting slump. Instead of meeting friends for dinner and drinks, meet at a new workout class. Instead of sleeping in that extra 30 minutes, get up and start your day with a mini workout and stretch. There is no rule that says a workout has to be 60 minutes! Consistent movement is the best movement, so keep moving!”
—Katia Pryce, certified trainer and creator of DanceBody
“Shorten your workouts and increase the amount of time you spend active throughout the day. Try standing at your desk, walking to a further train, or taking the stairs versus the elevator. Aim for 10,000 steps per day!
Set up a workout calendar so that every day you complete a workout, you get a gold star or a sticker to put on your calendar to help track and visually see the progress that you are making. When you reach 10 stars, set up a prize for yourself: a manicure, pedicure, smoothie, or massage, so that you can celebrate the work you’ve accomplished. Do this for every 10 stars you get. Get your friends, family, and co-workers involved in this challenge, and hold each other accountable.
It takes at least 40 days to create a new habit, so just be consistent and show up. Remember that you do not have to make it through the entire hourlong class in the beginning. Start with staying in class for 30 minutes, three times a week, and increase the time and frequency as you get more comfortable with the workout.”
—Anna Kaiser, celebrity trainer and founder of AKT
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My goal is to make a healthy lifestyle fun and easy for everyone. Part of that is creating exercises that anyone can do, almost anywhere. I am living proof you do NOT need a gym membership in order to get, and stay, in shape. I lost the bulk of my weight at home with a small set of dumbbells and some running shoes. Of course now I spend most days at the gym, but I guarantee you can see great results if you are dedicated and consistent at home.
I build workouts that are appropriate for all fitness levels and always try incorporate modifications for beginners, and those who are more advanced. My biggest bit of advice I can give anyone is
Listen To Your Body & Don’t Be Afraid of Weights!
I love mixing up traditional functional training with weight training, circuits, intervals and other high energy exercises. I want to be sure that EVERYONE can pick one of my workouts and get started without too much hassle. To make it even easier I thought it would be helpful to share a step-by-step guide to some of my favorite exercises! Soon you will be able to find these Step By Step Exercises For Beginners, along with many others, in my “workout” section.
I want to know what you are curious about. Is there an exercise you just don’t get and would like me to add? The Turkish Get Up? Sumo Squats? Frog Hops? Or maybe it’s the Army Crawler? Let me know in the comments below so I can make sure I get them all up here for you! For FULL work outs
Step By Step Exercises
- Start Standing with Feet Hip Distance
- Hop Down and Back Into a Plank
- Hop Knees Forward
- Exhale and Come Back to Standing
- CHALLENGE: Explode into a Jump
- Start with Feet Hip Distance Apart
- Weight Back in Your Heels
- Sit Back and Down, Lowering to Bring Hips in Line with Knees
- Keep Chest Lifted and Keep Knees Stacked Over Heels
- Push Through Heels to Come to Standing and Squeeze Booty at the Top
Squat With A Shoulder Press:
- See “Squat” Above
- Bring Weights to Shoulders as You Sit Into Squat
- Exhale and Press Weights Overhead as You Stand
Romanian Dead Lift:
- Feet Hip Distance Apart
- Slight Bend In the Knees, Shins Verticle
- Keep Hips Pushed Back and Back Straight
- Keeping Back and Arms Straight, Use Hips to Lift Bar (Exhale) Squeeze Booty at Standing
- Press Hips Back, Slightly Bend the Knees to Lower Weights or Barbell Back Down
- Use Slow, Controlled Motion
- Laying on Your Back, Press Soles of the Feet Together to Touch, Knees Open Wide
- Hands Rest Behind Your Head, Elbows Out Wide
- Draw the Belly Button Into the Spin, Zip Up the Rib Cage
- Exhale as You Lift the Shoulders Off of The Ground
- Lower Back Down One Inch on the Inhale and Repeat
- CHALLENGE: Lift and Lower Feet with the Crunch
- Laying on Your Back, Bring Knees to a Table Top Position
- Rest Hands Behind Head with Elbows Open Wide
- As You Exhale, Lift Right Shoulder Off the Mat, Crossing to Meet Left Knee at Center While Right Leg Elongates to Hover
- Switch to Opposite Side (Left Shoulder to Right Knee) and Repeat
Single Leg Lunge
- Begin Standing with Feet Hip Distance
- REVERSE LUNGE: Step Foot Back
- FORWARD LUNGE: Step Foot Forward
- Hands Can Be at Side, Holding Weights or Barbell
- Step Leg About Two Feet From Stationary Leg
- Do Not Allow Knee to Move Forward Over the Toes
- Push Through Heel to Come Back to Standing and Repeat
- Start in Plank Position
- Keep Hips and Booty Down in Line with Heels and Crown of the Head
- Jump Feet Apart About 2 Feet
- Exhale and Jump Feet Back Together
- Repeat In and Out
How To Get Yourself In The Mood For Training
Not every day can be beast mode. Here’s how to get yourself in the mood for training.
Real life isn’t like a string of memes on your Instagram feed. “Team No Sleep” does sometimes need a nap in the afternoon, and “the grind” can get pretty tired. So what should you do when Beast Mode seems to have passed you by?
The truth is, there’s nothing wrong with taking an extra rest day or two when you need it. If you’re in this for the long term, then a couple of days off are a drop in the ocean.
But consistency is the name of the game, and so you will need to train when you feel tired, stressed, or down in the dumps. If you wait for the stars to align, you’ll only end up with a handful of sessions in your log book at the end of the year.
Here are 9 ways to boost your mood in and out of the gym:
Everyone knows that music has the power to boost mood and get us fired up. Use music to get yourself in the mood for training. Play it loud at home whilst you get your gym bag ready. Play your favourite high energy tunes in the car. Make a playlist for training (or ask the gym to play your tunes, if you’re lucky!)
If you’re feeling a bit bored about training, invest in one piece of new kit. It could be something practical like lifting straps, a belt, or wrist wraps. Or just something to make you look and feel good, like a new training top.
You can always rely on caffeine for a pick-me-up! If you’re feeling tired or demotivated, go for a short black coffee or espresso before training. If you don’t like coffee but want the benefits of caffeine, sip on Complete BCAA Energy™ which is a refreshing blend of 3:1:1 BCAAs plus caffeine. Or try Caffeine Powder or Caffeine Tablets (ideal for keeping in your gym bag).
Make It Social
It can be tough to get motivated for a solo training session. If you’re usually a lone wolf, why not arrange to train with a friend just this once? The social aspect will give your mood a boost, you’ll have a laugh, and probably learn a few new exercises too. Choose someone who’s ambitious, focused, and ideally slightly stronger than you.
Training should be rewarding enough, but sometimes you need an extra pat on the back. Promise yourself that if you go training today, you can place a new supplement order or treat yourself to something you wouldn’t normally buy – like protein cookies!
Do Your Favourite Things
If you really don’t want to do your scheduled session, give yourself a break. Go to the gym, and just do all your favourite exercises. Throw in some things you haven’t done in ages, or try something you saw on YouTube and have been meaning to do. Make it fun!
Keep some natural mood and cognition supplements on hand for days like these. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that is a precursor of melatonin and the “happy hormone” seratonin.
DL Phenylalanine is a form of another amino acid (Phenylalanine) that converts into the amino acid L-Tyrosine in the body. L-Tyrosine is a brain messenger that can be converted into neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters boost your mood and promote positive, energised feelings.
Complete Stimulant™ is our all-rounder which contains all natural nutrients to stimulate your body and mind, including Caffeine, DMAE, Taurine and Tyrosine. It’s ideal for those days when you’d rather head straight home to the sofa instead of going to the gym.
About the Author
Nicola Joyce has been writing for (and about) sport, fitness, nutrition and healthy living since 2004. She’s also a keen sportswoman: her background is in endurance sport but she now competes as a natural bodybuilder, most recently winning a world title with the INBF. When she’s not writing content, she can be found blogging. Follow her here www.nicolajoyce.co.uk and on Facebook & Twitter (@thefitwriter) too.
“The trick to finding motivation to exercise is to be realistic about your goal setting and how much time you have to commit to your plan,” he says. “If you’re running a company, bringing up two kids, and caring for an unwell parent, then it’s probably unrealistic to expect yourself to add in six exercise sessions a week.” He goes on, “in my opinion, health and fitness is all about balance. A fulfilling life should have a balance of professional fulfilment, healthy relationships and a reasonable amount of alone time for self reflection and evaluation. Building three to four exercise sessions into this should complement this, not replace elements of it. Once we find a balance that incorporates health and fitness into a balanced and happy lifestyle, all of a sudden we understand that we have created habits and routines that include physical activity, so one missed gym session here and there really doesn’t matter – it’s the bigger picture across the whole week, month and year that matters.”
Mark Hignett from Fitness Space Battersea is a fitness expert and personal trainer.
“When I’m really not in the mood it’s so hard to find the motivation to train so what I do is scrap my programme and do a workout I enjoy. I keep it short and sharp but make sure it’s effective. Sprinting is my favourite exercise so I’ll do 10 sprints on the skillmill followed by a couple of upper body exercises. Music has to be on point to drag me through it,” he says. “If I’m still lacking motivation then it’s a group session for me – let the instructor do the motivating.”
Kajsa Ernestam is the in-house dietitian at global health app Lifesum.
“Consider using an app to keep you on track with your goals and to challenge and inspire you. Also, subscribe to an aspirational blog. Although you may have already signed up to a gym and committed to a diet, if you subscribe to a food blog or health newsletter, update alerts can serve as a gentle reminder to stay on track and might even inspire you to try something new with healthy recipes and exercise regimes. Plus, a good method to help you boost your motivation is to find something that you know will trigger your willpower, whether it is a song or a photograph of something you want to achieve.”
Melissa Weldon is the head of training at Sweat It.
“Drag a friend into the equation; if I’m really busy or tired, I invite friends to train with me. That way I will never let them down and therefore still get my workout in. Take the pressure off. So one day you don’t get your workout done or you miss a thing off your to-do list, the world will keep spinning, it’s not that serious. Hit life a little harder tomorrow!”
Best of luck. And remember, self-care comes in all shapes and forms. One day it may be a run, the next, hot buttered crumpets. Balance is key.
11 Ways to Motivate Yourself to Go to the Gym
Being active has many benefits, everything from heart health to sleep quality to brain function, but knowing it’s good for you doesn’t always mean it’s easy to go to the gym. If you’ve been having trouble getting into a workout routine, take a look at a few proven methods for getting off the couch and breaking a sweat.
1. DRESS FOR A WORKOUT, EVEN IF YOU’RE NOT FEELING UP TO IT.
In many ways, pulling on a sweatshirt or a pair of yoga pants is even more important than heading out the door to go to the gym. Research has suggested that our brains are susceptible to “enclothed cognition,” a technical way of saying that dressing for the part can help fuel your ambition to complete a chosen task. If you’re in full workout gear, you’re far more likely to head out the door.
2. MAKE A COMMITMENT WITH A FRIEND.
It can be helpful to have an accountability partner, so make plans to have a joint workout with a friend. Feeling that someone else is counting on you to attend will make it less likely you’ll skip the session. Even better, seeing your friend perform—running a longer distance or lifting heavier weights—may also give you the motivation to push yourself, and you can share tips and celebrate each other’s progress.
3. MAKE A PLAN.
If you’re just looking to get active, there’s nothing wrong with going to a gym and investing time in whatever equipment or activity strikes your fancy. But the downside of those aimless visits is that skipping them doesn’t feel like you’re impeding progress toward a goal. After a break-in period, it’s best to imagine a finish line—losing weight, increasing endurance, adding muscle, or a mixture of each—and focus your energy on working toward it.
4. GO EARLY.
By getting up early in the morning and heading to the gym before you start your day, you’ve successfully avoided the eight to 10 hours you’d be able to talk yourself out of going. Exercising can be energizing, making it an ideal morning routine—but if you wait, you might feel too tired to go. Getting out of bed may be tough those first few mornings, but once you’ve established a rhythm, you’ll be glad you did.
5. CHANGE YOUR ROUTINE.
Even if you’re a creature of habit, repeating the same exercises over and over can become monotonous. To avoid boredom, try re-arranging their order or substituting alternatives—an incline bench press, for example, instead of a flat bench. By switching things up, you’ll keep both your body and mind invested in the activity. (And you can always return to your regular routine later.)
6. VISUALIZE SUCCESS.
Visualization is an athletic tool that’s been used for decades. By closing your eyes and imagining what it would look and feel like to achieve a goal or to complete an exercise, we can prepare ourselves physically and psychologically for the task at hand. If you’re dragging your feet or considering skipping a workout, try sitting down for a few minutes to visualize how you’d feel if you went to the gym and how it would bring you one step closer to your goal.
7. DON’T OVER-PROMISE.
Having goals, even lofty ones, is key to anything you want to achieve in life. But if you decide you want to have the proportions of a fitness model by August or jump from a 5K to a three-hour marathon time, you may be setting yourself up for disappointment. Make sure the bar is reachable—even if it means aiming for just 15 minutes on a bike—so you’re not overwhelmed. Don’t forget to celebrate the smaller milestones along the way!
8. GET RID OF OBSTACLES.
Maybe something is impeding your gym trip. Is the coffeemaker not working, sapping you of the crucial caffeine jolt you like before a workout? Do you not like your gym’s location or their fitness class instructors? Don’t wait until you can use roadblocks to excuse a missed session. Take action to resolve the problem so you have a clear and unobstructed path toward your goals.
9. CONSIDER A TRAINER.
Certified fitness instructors add to the cost of your workout, but they can also add a lot of tangible value. An expert can design a program based on your goals, show you how to use equipment, and provide tips on nutrition. You may find you don’t need their assistance for long, but having them present while you start out could compel you to stick with it.
10. LOG YOUR WORKOUTS.
By recording distances, weights, and other objective milestones in your fitness journey, you’ll be able to see progress on paper. That record can come in handy when you’re feeling uninspired or lethargic. Referencing a time when you could only run a half-mile, for example, might motivate you to stick with it because you’re now accustomed to running two or three.
11. TAKE TIME TO RECOVER.
You may feel like hitting the gym every day leaves no room for laziness. Eventually, you’re going to discover that your body’s desire for rest will trump your iron will, and you may find yourself going days or weeks without breaking a sweat. It’s better to build in some recovery time, whether that means doing nothing or just temporarily turning your activity level down. That way, you’ll avoid being too tired to tackle your next session.
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