I used to type into Google “how to motivate yourself to workout” all the time. It was frustrating how often I just couldn’t summon the willpower to get to the gym. I used to have all of these negative thoughts like “how is it that everyone else seems to love working out?” and “ Am I doomed to always struggle when it comes to exercising?” If this sounds like you, then you need to read this post.
Staying motivated to exercise is only part of the story. If you want to learn how to motivate yourself to workout, you also need a strategy to make it easier on yourself. Willpower is limited (source).
So, I’m here today to share all the tips you need to motivate yourself to get in shape and stay in shape. These tips are what I’ve learned to make exercising a habit.
How to Motivate Yourself to Workout
Let’s start with mindset (aka the actual motivation and willpower part). You’re going to frequently want to remind yourself why you want to get in shape (and stay in shape) in the first place. Have go to thoughts about why exercise is going to benefit you. Picture the pair of jeans your are trying to fit back into. Envision the energy you’re going to have when you finally get back into shape. Picture those stairs to the subway that you struggle walking up every day. Remembering your why behind the workout help you combat that annoying inner voice that tells you that you deserve to skip today’s workout.
You’re also going to want to get in the mindset of being someone who works out consistently. When your coworker invites you to happy hour last minute, remember that you are the type of person who doesn’t mind skipping a fun event once in a while to get their workout in. You are someone who is motivated to workout. You need to think like this because, this is who you are trying to become. The more often you think this way, the more second nature it will become.
In order to keep my mind in check (because it tends to resist many things that are good for me in the long term), I like to have frequent reminders of my goal. There’s different ways to have a reminder. In the past, I’ve made my work password related to an exercise goal since I type it in every day. My friend has an inspirational quote as her phone background.
Currently I use a habit tracking app. Every time I get 3 workouts in a week, I continue my streak. There’s something very satisfying about keeping the streak going. Kind of similar to crossing off something on your to do list.
Location, Location, Location
Now once that you have your mindset right, let’s make getting in shape and staying in shape as easy as possible, starting with location. Location is important when it comes to your exercise routine. If your gym is on the other side of town, you’re not going to make it as often as if it was 2 blocks from your office. Think about what would work best with your lifestyle. Would working out during lunch make it easier to make it to that workout class? Would a gym near your apartment be best for your morning workouts? When it comes to working out, pick a location that makes your life easier.
Location also applies to your gym clothes. I like to pick mine out the night before so I can just grab them and go (I’m an after work exerciser). Some people like to wear workout clothes to bed for morning workouts so they can literally roll out of bed and still be ready to go.
Spice Things Up
Love lives aren’t the only things that need to be spiced up every once in a while. If your workout routine is boring, not only will you dread it, but your muscles will be bored as well. Are there classes that your gym offers to change up your routine? Have you always wanted to try rock climbing or take a few dance classes? Try it out for a few weeks. Even if this isn’t a permanent change to your workout routine, you’ll have more fun trying something different for a little.
I’m a big fan of getting creative with my weekend workouts. Since weekends are a lot more flexible than weekdays (if you’re a 9 to 5’er like me), you can make your weekend workouts fun and different. Yes workouts can be fun! Looking for some ideas? Some creative weekend workouts are:
- Joining a sports team or a weekend sports meetup — Just because you’re friends don’t want to do volleyball with you doesn’t mean that you can’t find others who will
- Skiing/Snowboarding/Snoeshoeing — Screw the cold. You can still get outside and enjoy fresh air
- Home workouts — There are tons of free workouts on YouTube. Pick a new one each week to try out in the comfort of your home. (I’m a big fan of yoga at home)
- Try out new workout studios — There are tons of new workout classes these days and many offer great discounts for first timers
Groupies Are a Good Thing
You don’t have to go it alone. Working out with a friend or in a group helps you avoid quitting. There’s an expectation that you’ll show up. You can use this to your advantage in a few ways.
Grab a gym buddy. Even if you don’t do the same workout, just meeting at the gym is enough incentive to show up.
Join a sports team (I know I already mentioned this but it does have multiple benefits). Since your team will be counting on you to show up so they have enough people to play with, you don’t want to let your team down. Guilt is a hell of a motivator! And knowing that your workout involves hanging out with people, makes it a lot more fun as well.
Take a class. Have a set time to show up helps you stick to it. That, and many studios will charge you if you don’t show up. A financial incentive doesn’t hurt!
Let Me Pencil You In
The easiest way to make your workouts on auto pilot is to schedule when you’re going to do them beforehand. I pick my workout dates before the week starts. Making a schedule gives you the opportunity to work around life’s other demands.
If you are hitting up a basketball game on Wednesday night, maybe you move your usual Thursday morning workout to Wednesday morning. Like to run outside on the weekends? If you know your weekend is going to be packed, move it up to a weekday night or swap it for a gym night.
Planned flexibility is how you make this work. Right now I have a 3 day a week exercise schedule. I workout on Mondays because I always have access to my car that day and either Wednesdays or Thursdays, depending on which night I’ll have to cook instead. Also, I get in one form of exercised on either Saturday or Sunday. Since it’s winter right now, snowboarding is my favorite way to get my exercise in on the weekends. I have a general schedule but allow some flexibility because life isn’t perfect.
See where you can fit in some exercises this week. Even if it’s a short 20 minute workout, it’s still better than skipping.
A Habit to Love
On average, it takes 66 days for something to become a habit (source). Once it becomes a habit, it’ll be second nature. Luckily, you’ll be getting boost of serotonin (the happy hormone) from exercising while you make it a habit which should make it easier (source).
When you’re struggling to motivate yourself to workout, remind yourself that you’re one day closer to making it a habit.