“Jared, I just don’t like to work out. I know that I need to, but lack any motivation. Any suggestions?”
This is an excerpt from an email I got from a reader earlier this week… Have you ever felt this way before? Obviously regular exercise is important; I can quote countless studies and research trials concluding the health benefits of working out regularly. You know them already – lower risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure, better lung function, less chronic disease, etc, etc, etc. But what happens when even this knowledge just isn’t motivating enough? What happens when working out for the sake of working out just isn’t enough of a push to get you to do it? Well it’s to you, my under-motivated, would-love-try-but-can’t, can-you-please-help-me friend that I’m dedicating today’s blog post. Today I am sharing my top 10 tips to motivate and inspire you to complete your next workout. Here we go!
1. Find something you enjoy doing! One of the biggest misconceptions about “working out”
and “exercising” is that it has to be done either in the gym or out on the jog trail. Often times people are intimidated by the gym or simply don’t like running and therefore lack the desire to exercise. For me, the biggest key to staying motivated is to find something that you really LOVE and then go do it! If you don’t like going to the gym then don’t. If you don’t like running then don’t do it. Instead find something that you love. Go on a hike. Try swimming. There’s hiking, playing basketball, skiing, tennis, intramural sports, etc., etc., etc. If you enjoy doing an activity you will find yourself looking forward to it and making time for it instead of dreading it!
2. Grab a buddy! One of the absolute best motivators out there is to find a buddy with whom you share a common goal. Set up dates and times with this person that you will exercise and then do all that you can to stick with it! Trust me – you will be a lot more motivated to go if you know that someone is going to be there waiting for you. It’s easy to let the snooze button win; it’s a lot more difficult when you know you have another person depending on you to be there with him/her!
3. Take it outdoors! Exercising outside is a great way to stay motivated. The fresh air, the ever-changing scenery, and just the sheer variety of exercise available outdoors is enough to keep workouts varied, interesting, and exciting. Overcoming monotony is key to motivating workouts – take things outdoors and identify the things you love about being out there!
4. Make friends at the gym! If you do belong to a gym and you’re finding your motivation waning
– take this challenge. Identify one person that you see there regularly, go up, and introduce yourself. It’s as simple as “Hi, I’ve seen you in here a few times and just wanted to introduce myself. My name is _____.” You’ll be surprised at how easy this really is! Building friendships with people at the gym creates a social network that you will start to love when you’re there and really miss when you’re gone.
5. Load up your favorite tunes into an awesome workout playlist! I don’t know about you – but there is nothing that gets my hyped when I’m working out like when my favorite jam comes on my mp3 player! It seems like I can usually get an additional rep or two per set or pick up my pace while running for that 3-4 minutes. Keeping your music fresh is an excellent way to stay motivated and energized throughout your workout.
6. Reward your efforts! Action/Reward behavior is one of the most powerful motivators to humankind. We’re all about praises for a job well-done and being showered with rewards any time we succeed. Why should working out be any different? Come up with a behavior and come up with a reward. Examples could be “When I reach my 10-pound weight-loss goal I’m going to buy new shoes” or “If I can eat healthy this whole week I will allow myself one delicious cheat meal on Saturday.” Any time you can come up with a reward for yourself that means more to you than the behavior, you’re going to find success.
7. Think about the benefits– not the difficulty! Let’s face it – exercise is hard. But did you
know that your attitude and thinking before a workout can actually have a huge effect on how successful it is? Think about it – let’s say you’re on the jog trail and have the following thought – “Man I don’t like this. This is hard, and I’m tired, and the sun is hot, and my feet hurt, and I would just rather be home right now,” how long do you really think that run will last? And when you get back home how likely are you going to be to get back out and run in the next day or two? Now consider the following: “This is really difficult, but I know doing this now is helping me to lose weight and get in shape. I will have more energy and be able to fit into that amazing pair of jeans I always wanted.” Same set of circumstances, but with a completely different outcome. Focus on the benefits of exercise and forget about the difficulty.
8. Variety is key! If you do the same exercises as part of the same workout at the same time most days of every week, you’re going to get burnt out. It’s just a fact of nature. Humans need variety and spontaneity. We need excitement and challenge. If you’re bored and lacking motivation to workout, try doing something you’ve never done before! Try Zumba! Try HIIT! Maybe do a total-body at-home cardio workout with some strength training! The important part is that you stay motivated by keeping things interesting.
9. Create an exercise contest! Join the office weight-loss pool! Don’t have a weight-loss pool? Start one! Don’t have an office? Get your friends and family to join with you! Want to make it interesting and really see some amazing results? Have everyone put down some money with some awesome prizes for the winners! Healthy competition is a great way to stay active and motivated even when you don’t feel very active or motivated!
10. Take before and after pictures! Nothing is more inspiring than seeing results. Unfortunately in the world of fitness results tend to come so slowly that often we don’t even realize we’re making them. This perceived lack of progress is one of the main reasons people become disinterested and ultimately give up. Taking a before picture (and putting it somewhere you can see it!) provides you with an accurate baseline that you can refer to often and see what kind of improvement you’re making. Get your selfie on, and then go to work!
So the next time you’re lacking motivation to exercise try one or two or ten of these tips! I promise that you will find the motivation and inspiration you need to make your next workout legendary!