If you’re anything like me, you always intend to work out a little more, but because of no motivation, or no time (or let’s be honest, a very demanding kid), it never seems to actually happen. I want to exercise more than I do – sometimes walking to and from my car to go to work is all I manage – but I always find it hard to actually make that happen. Recently, my husband and I have made a plan to start eating healthier and to get ourselves back into shape. Even if the new shape is still mostly the same as the old one, a little bit of exercise is better than none! The benefits of exercise are huge, no matter what your current fitness level is. Not everyone has a lot of time to devote to working out or going to the gym, and everyone has their own limitations for what they can or cannot do, but finding an exercise program that’s right for you is worth it.
If you’re like me, though, that’s not quite as easy as it sounds. So here a few tips I have to help you – and myself! – try to fit in a trip to the gym (or just a workout in your living room).
9 Ways to Get Motivated
This seems so simple when you think about it, but this is what I struggle with most! If I don’t make exercise a priority, I fall behind before I’ve even started. Be intentional with your exercise plan, and make it a priority. If you don’t treat it as something important to do, it’s much easier to skip it or put it off.
Tip: There’s a difference between making something a priority and letting it become so stressful it’s unsustainable! Commit to it, but stay flexible.
One thing that helps me is choosing a specific time to exercise. If I have a specific time set aside to work out, it becomes a little easier to build that habit. Habits are very powerful tools, and if you can get yourself into the mindset of “This is when I exercise,” then it becomes a little easier to find that time and show up for yourself every week. It might start out pretty tough, but after awhile, if you stay consistent, you’ll find that it has just become another part of your routine. However, it’s also important to remember that:
Setbacks Don’t Mean Failure
If you try your best and for whatever reason – maybe because you’re just not feeling up to it, or maybe for reasons totally beyond your control – you just can’t make it to the gym (or in my case in front of my TV to play Just Dance), don’t beat yourself up about it! This is a tendency I’ve noticed in myself. If one little thing goes wrong, then it feels like all my hard work was for nothing and sometimes I just give up. Don’t! Remember that you’re doing this for yourself, and there’s no hard rules. If you can’t work out one week, do it next week. You can always pick right back up when you’re feeling better or when you have more time. It’s perfectly normal to have a few setbacks now and then, but that doesn’t mean you’ve failed. In fact, it’s a great opportunity to recommit! Give yourself a break, enjoy the rest if you need it, and then get right back at it.
When you do push past those setbacks, though, rewarding yourself for your hard work can be a great motivator. If you’ve been consistently getting all your work outs in, and you’ve really pushed yourself, be proud! Let yourself bask in your accomplishments. Give yourself a little happy for doing well. This can be a cheat day where you eat that bag of M&M’s you’ve been saving (speaking from personal experience here), or maybe a trip to the mall, or maybe something as simple as a really pretty sticker on your work-out planner or bujo spread (again, speaking from personal experience here). If you have something to look forward to, that you know you’ll get if you keeping working out, it might be a little easier to keep going!
I don’t know about you, but if I have a cute new outfit I’m always looking for an excuse to wear it. The same thing applies to working out. If you have work out clothes, then just putting them on – again, being consistent is so important! – can get you in the mood to work out. And looking cute is, at least in my opinion, something of its own reward.
Tip: You don’t need to splurge for cute clothes! I know that Lululemon and Fabletics are nice, but you don’t need an aspirational brand unless it’s what works for you and your budget. There are lots of great options that are very cute and very budget friendly.
Work Out Buddy
Some people can succeed only accountable to themselves, but I am not one of them. When I’m the only person overseeing my work, I’m going to let myself slide every time. What helps me is having a friend to work out with. We can hold each other accountable, support each other, and make going to the gym a little more fun. When I was in college two friends and I went swimming every Monday night. It was a good workout and it was a lot of fun! (I do love swimming, though, so that helped.) I started looking forward to Monday, because not only was I getting some exercise I was getting to hang out with two great friends. If you can, whether it’s a significant other or sibling or friend or whoever, having a work out buddy is a great way to keep yourself – keep both of you! – on track.
Find Something You Enjoy
Exercising can often feel like a chore. This is doubly so when you’re doing something you don’t enjoy. I don’t like running or jogging, so trying to force myself to get out to do that feels almost impossible. Even when a friend and I were doing the Couch-to-5K system, it was so difficult to keep going! I hated it! It’s much, much easier to keep exercising when you’re doing something you like. This can be yoga, swimming, cycling, hiking, dancing, spin class… There are lots of options out there, you just need to find what works for you! If you live in an area without a lot of gyms or health clubs, then I would suggest looking for different exercise routines on YouTube. If you can find somebody fun to watch, and work outs that you enjoy, it can help exercising feel like less of a chore.
Some people exercise to train for a marathon, or to get into better shape – and for things like that, it’s easy to set measurable goals. Even if you’re just doing it for general, non-specific health reasons, having goals can really help keep you motivated. (And remember when I said reward yourself? Meeting those goals can be a great benchmark for those rewards!) Maybe your goal is to exercise twice every week, or go for a brisk walk 30 minutes every day. One of my goals is to walk 10,000 steps every day at work. Do I meet it everyday? No. But having that goal always pushes me to try a little harder than I would have otherwise! You can make flexible goals that work for you, and don’t be afraid to reassess to make sure you’re still on the right track.
Just Get There
Sometimes, no matter what your goals are, no matter what rewards are waiting, no matter what you’ve done… You may just not have the energy to work out at all. And if you need to take a day off, remember that that’s okay! But one thing you can do, is just get there. Put on your workout clothes, or put on that workout video, or just get to the gym. Just get there, whatever that means for you. You might find that you feel like doing more than you thought you did! And if not, then you can be proud of yourself for getting there at all. Sometimes just showing up is enough, and if you keep showing up, you might find you’ll feel like working out after all.
So those are my 9 tips to help you get motivated! I’m trying to follow them myself, because I really want to get back into the habit of exercising! I’ve tried to make these tips as universal as possible, so no matter your situation I hope you can find something that works for you! I know that a lot of people want to exercise to lose weight, which is great if that’s what you want, but I also believe that exercise is a good habit to get into even if you have no interest whatsoever in losing weight.
If any of these tips work for you let me know! Or, what does work for you? Share your own tips in the comments!