January is typically the time of year when people are most motivated to tackle their New Year’s resolutions. Getting motivated to exercise is usually the easy part. But STAYING motivated to continue to do it is a whole other thing. “How do I get motivated to exercise?” is a question that will have a different answer for everyone. But when it comes down to it, the truth is that relying on motivation is not how you’ll succeed.
Creating habits is how you’ll succeed. Because when you’re not feeling motivated, which undoubtedly happens for everyone, having a habit/routine ingrained into you will stop you from questioning yourself and saying, “I don’t feel motivated today . . . should I just skip my workout?” Instead, you’ll just do the workout because it’s part of your routine, just like brushing your teeth and going to work.
But I know many people struggle to find or maintain motivation to exercise over time, and telling them to “make it a habit” isn’t always the answer they’re looking for. There are different ways you can work through feeling unmotivated, so see what works for you the most. You can set strict deadlines for your goals to keep you moving forward. Or if you respond best to reward/punishment, plan a reward for when you hit your goals. Many people have an easier time staying determined to reach the finish line if they have an incentive.
There are a lot of other small tricks to getting motivated:
- Signing up for competitions is great for those who thrive in competitive environments.
- Having a workout group or buddy is also very effective–not only is it more fun to work out with friends, but it also keeps you accountable. Your friend could be doing separate workouts from you, but you both check in to make sure you’re both on track, or you agree to pay the friend $20 everytime you skip a workout.
- Following a program will help you feel like you’re on track, even if you aren’t seeing results right away.
- Speaking of being “on track,” keeping a record of workouts helps some people from losing direction and gives a sense of accountability.
- Getting a personal trainer, whether virtual or in-person, is what works for many people for several reasons. You don’t have to plan the workouts, you only need to schedule your sessions and just show up. Personal trainers also help hold you accountable so you’ll stay on track, and if you’re lucky, some offer diet advice/plans.
- Find the activity that keeps you going back. Whether it’s rock climbing, yoga, crossfit classes, or BOXING, find the activity that makes you want to go back several times a week. Surviving through a rough workout is a lot of fun when it’s with the right people. Additionally, if what you’re doing is something you want to get better at or learn–like boxing–that desire to progress usually keeps people going back for more.
Whatever it is that gets you motivated to exercise, remember that you are doing this for yourself. Not only is exercise good for your physical health, think about it as time that you put aside to focus on bettering yourself. If you’re having a crazy day, stressed out about work or other obligations, you’ll probably appreciate a 30-minute workout even if you’re not in the mood for it. Exercise has a way of shifting your focus to something else and by the end of the workout you’ve gained a fresh perspective and hopefully a better mood.