Maybe you like hiking in the park, taking in the sights and sounds of nature. Or perhaps you like to push yourself with spin classes and work up a real sweat. Maybe basketball at a local recreation league is your thing. Only you know how to motivate yourself to work out with your favorite activities.
But even though you enjoy these activities, and you like the way you feel when you are doing them, you haven’t been able to muster up the energy to participate lately.
There’s a catch-22 that often happens when you’re wanting to work out, but you’re not in the mood. Working out will boost your mood and make you feel better, but because of your current mood, you don’t want to work out.
Does this conundrum sound familiar?
Anyone can get stuck in this rut from time to time. It could be that work has been taking too much out of you, or your family and personal commitments are eating up a lot of your time and energy. You’ve got to find a way to break this cycle.
How can you get started?
Here are 7 strategies to help you learn how to motivate yourself to work out.
1. Don’t Get Sucked Into the Black Hole of the Couch
As soon as you come in the door from work, get your workout clothes on and hit the door again. If you sit down on the comfy sofa, it will take more fortitude to get yourself going. Think of your sofa as quicksand, and don’t get pulled into the trap.
It’s a simple law of physics-Newton’s first law: An object at rest tends to stay at rest; an object in motion tends to stay in motion. You can nestle into the comfy couch after your workout. But first, while you’re in motion from your day, stay in motion and find a workout to keep you moving.
2. Find an Accountability Partner
Studies show that having an accountability partner greatly increases your exercise frequency and success. Talk to some of your friends and find someone who has the same schedule as you, and you’ll find it easier to motivate yourself to workout.
Maybe you have a friend who would love to hike in the early morning before work, or maybe you know someone that would like to hit a dance class right after work ends. Knowing that you have to meet someone else will make you think twice about blowing off your workout.
You don’t have to have all your workouts include your partner, but even if you meet this person once a week, that will give you a boost to want to keep your workout going on other days. If you really feel that you need an accountability partner all the time, then find 2-3 people and meet them 2-3 times a week.
One caveat: if your accountability partner cancels on you, be prepared for that and keep to your schedule. Everyone has things come up every now and then, but if you find your partner is frequently trying to cancel or reschedule, you probably need to find a new partner.
If a friend isn’t doing the trick, consider hiring a personal trainer for a month or two to get you into the habit of being accountable with someone.
3. Make Yourself Accountable
If you want to learn how to motivate yourself to work out, commit to 30 days of an exercise plan. Look at your calendar and plan out which days and times you are going to work out, including what that workout will be. Allow yourself two “do-overs” for random life events or illness-but only two.
For example, let’s say you have a fitness goal to go to a spin class after work on a Tuesday, but a family member calls whose car broke down, and you have to go assist.
You will rearrange that date of your spin class and find a different date to put it on the calendar, but you only want to do that for necessary, external life events. Hitting the snooze button because you woke up too tired isn’t a good excuse.
If you can stick to 30 days of this plan, it should feel more like a habit going forward as you reap the benefits of having more energy.
4. Integrate Some Mini-Movement Into Your Day
If you go into work and sit at a desk most of the day, it will feel good to get out and move your muscles afterward. But sometimes, it seems difficult to get out of that sedentary rut.
One solution is staying in touch with your body all throughout the day. Set a few timers on your phone during the day, and when they go off, take a few minutes to do different physical movements.
Stretching and doing forward bends or side bends are great ideas. You can stand against the wall and “peel” off of it, feeling each vertebra and releasing your lower back. Take off your shoes and wiggle your toes around. Do calf raises, standing up and lifting your heels up and down.
These small movements done 2-3 times throughout your workday may seem insignificant, but they will keep your attuned to your physical self a bit more so that you will be more motivated to exercise with some bigger, longer, “real” workout sessions.
Think of them as appetizers and your workout as the big meal.
5. Eat Something Fresh
Speaking of a big meal, what we eat and drink is related to how we feel, so if you don’t know how to motivate yourself to work out, start with a healthy snack. If you’re not eating particularly well these days, commit to at least eating one fresh item daily. Maybe you have an apple as an afternoon snack or a little salad with dinner.
Sometimes, we’re so busy that we don’t realize we’ve not been eating as fresh as we’d like. By making the conscious choice to seek out some fresh food, you’re taking care of yourself, which, in turn, will make you think about those same kinds of choices when it comes to exercise.
Another benefit is that if you’re eating well, you may feel “lighter” and have more energy to workout.
6. Create an Alter Ego
The Alter Ego Effect
[/url], Todd Herman illustrates how an alter ego is a mental trick to improve your life. Many famous entertainers have used alter egos to overcome stage fright.
How could this work for you? You may be too tired to work out at the end of the day, but your alter ego isn’t.
Let’s say you create a character named “Ironman.” Sure, when you come in from a long day at work, you can talk yourself into wanting to relax on the couch. But Ironman doesn’t feel that way-he’s ready to throw on his sneakers and go for a run!
7. Drink Lots of Water
Drinking water boosts mood and decreases fatigue. One study in particular found that “restricted water intake resulted in a significant increase in thirst and a decrease in contentedness, calmness, positive emotions and vigor/activity”.
Drinking water, therefore, is one of the simplest, most effective ways to boost your motivation if you’re learning how to motivate yourself to work out.
Make sure you’re getting your water intake all throughout the day, and if you’ve had coffee, drink some extra water to counteract its dehydrating effects.
How are you planning to stay motivated and get going this week?
Motivate yourself to work out-pour yourself a big glass of water, get out your calendar, and think about what types of workouts you want to do.
You can use any of the above strategies to get you back on track and make it to the finish line.
You know how good you feel when you do, so give yourself that gift. You don’t have to wait until tomorrow-go get your sneakers on!
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