We all have slightly different reasons why we like to workout… or would like to workout more. Getting in shape, increasing flexibility, releasing stress at the end of the day, counteracting our wine drinking, looking hot, whatever. But even the people with the best intentions when it comes to working out can miss out on the motivation factor some of the time. Working out, of course, takes time, which means sometimes you have to prioritize it over other things that you love to do.
In fact, that’s generally true. It’s also hard, and you get sore, it can be a little intimidating while you’re learning the ropes at something new, and it also requires that you take more showers and do more laundry, which for some people doesn’t sound thrilling. Except all of those things start to feel great once you start to see and feel the results that come from all the working out, and once you’re hooked you’re usually hooked. Here are 15 different ways that you can easily increase your workout motivation.
15. Create A “Habit Loop”
Creating a “habit loop” can basically train you into keeping a habit, and it works great for things like working out. The loop would start by cueing the behavior, which means something like putting your running shoes by the door where you can see them. Then you have to take action by actually going for the run, and once you finish that you get to reward yourself in one way.
When there is an extrinsic award in place, your brain really latches onto that concept and doesn’t forget it. When your brain remembers that there is some good involved in following through with the habit, then it makes it a lot more likely that you will stick with the habit at all. Eventually you might start to realize that the workout itself is actually the reward, since it’s going to be what’s really making you feel better.
Especially once you start to see and feel the difference in your body and your progress at the gym. It’s pretty much impossible not to start to notice differences in your physical performance once you stick with a routine, even if you aren’t trying to track it specifically.
14. Make The Reward Something Other Than Food
If you are going to reward yourself for working out, it can’t be in the form of food. This sets up bad habits in a couple different ways. For one thing, if you agree to treat yourself with a cookie after each successful workout that you accomplish, you will start to associate those two things together, which might actually make you crave treats more. It also sets up a dangerous cycle of saying to yourself that you have to earn something to eat, which for some people has the potential to veer into obsessive behaviors.
You should never be burning a calorie deficit simply so that you can eat something. The other thing is that we tend to overestimate how many calories we actually burn while we’re working out, and if you treat yourself with foods that are more calories than you are burning you might actually start gaining weight despite your commitment to exercise. It’s better to reward yourself with something that won’t do any damage, like a new cute sports bra after two weeks of meeting your goals or something like that.
13. Find a Workout Buddy
Having a workout buddy can really help certain people to increase their workout motivation. For one thing, having a workout buddy increases your accountability because you’re less likely to break a workout plan when it actually involves a plan with another person. It’s not as simple as just not going, you have to go through the process of bailing on someone else. That can also serve as simple motivation on the days that you just don’t feel like it.
Working out with a friend also means that it’s easier to step up the pace and even keep track of progress. You and your workout buddy might have different strengths and preferences but that can be a good thing since it will push both of you out of your comfort zone to try and actually succeed at doing something new. You might be resistant to doing ab work but your buddy has abs of steel and makes it mandatory to the workout, so eventually you start to get into it… especially when your own ab muscles start to show through.
12. Set Legit Goals
We tend to think of goals as losing 20 pounds or running a marathon, but it’s honestly not enough to just think about a long-term goal that you want to accomplish. Those are great goals for some people, but they might be too lofty and they definitely take a lot of time. Unless you can break those up into mini goals, you risk losing your motivation along the way because you can’t see how your small steps of commitment are getting you anywhere closer to the overall goal.
This is why it makes sense to break up your goals into smaller goals that actually make sense. Like tracking your weight loss with the goal of losing a certain amount of weight within a given time, with an average of a pound a week or whatever seems logical to you. For something like running a marathon the goal might be to run five days a week and extend your time by a few minutes each day, or adding in different intervals to increase your speed. At the end of the week, you can actually see that you accomplished something, which makes you more likely to keep going.
11. Get Some Revenge
If all else fails you can always find motivation to get fit to get even. Not that all of your workout goals should be related to the size of your body, but if you feel like you could look better and have the desire to do so, might as well remind yourself that your ex will probably hate to see you looking and feeling better than ever without him.
It’s not that you really want him to be sad or anything, but it can be a lighthearted way to make the situation a little entertaining at least. Imagine if he suddenly got in shape and was looking amazing, you would assume that he was doing just great without you.
Make him think the same regardless of how you’re actually feeling without him, and what will happen is that the real feelings of feeling great will start to follow. Feeling and looking your best should always be for you first and foremost, but as for how other people feel about it, sometimes it gets them a little fired up as well.
10. PinPoint What’s Holding You Back
If you feel ambivalent about something like working out, there’s probably a reason. When we feel ambivalent about people we are often confused or not ready, and when we feel ambivalent about work we might be bored or unmotivated. But you know that there isn’t a potential downside to working out, the effects that it has are pretty much all around amazing. So what’s the problem? Maybe you’re afraid on some level you’ll get so into evening runs that you’ll never want to go to happy hour again and you’ll lose all your friends. Logical, not really, but a provocative argument.
Maybe you think that it isn’t actually possible to lose weight, that you’ll put all this effort into it and you still won’t lose weight and then you’ll be failing at working out. Maybe you’re not ready to give up an unhealthy eating habit and you know that goes hand in hand with the fitness commitment. Figuring out what it is can usually help you figure out where to go from there.
9. Set A Goal Unrelated To Your Weight
It’s great to lose weight if you need to lose weight, but you shouldn’t obsess over your weight because that can actually make you frustrated when you don’t see changes fast enough. Focus on other goals that have to do with working out that you can hit regardless of how quickly or slowly you’re getting back into your skinny jeans.
Maybe physical flexibility is a goal of yours, so you vow to spend a few minutes each day stretching. That is the sort of goal that will actually start to show you results pretty quickly, and you’ll be impressed with how different it makes your body feel. There’s nothing like suddenly realizing that your lower back doesn’t hurt anymore because of the yoga you’ve been doing.
It’s almost like a surprising side effect of working out, even though those things can be the main point. Setting those types of small goals and paying attention to the small changes to your fitness levels can be hugely motivating.
8. Try Some Fun Classes
If you think of “working out” as going to your stale neighborhood gym and jogging on an old treadmill, well, it’s no wonder you’re lacking motivation. That’s only a small part of working, however, and it’s not even the best kind. These days workout classes are everywhere and in every theme and style you could possibly think of, so don’t think that there isn’t something that will catch your interest and turn you into a workout fanatic.
The cool thing about group fitness classes is that there is a lot more motivation and energy in the room than there is when you’re trying to pick up the pace on your own, as well as an instructor who can correct your form and show you new things. The best classes are the ones where you’re actually having a good time while you’re breaking a sweat which means the workout will actually feel good instead of purely torturous. That means you can workout longer and harder without feeling like you’re wasting any time.
7. Know It Could Help Your Love Life
Working out can have all kinds of benefits for your love life. One simple way is that when you workout you tend to feel better in general, which can increase your confidence and desire to hop into the sack and to be more relaxed when you do so. A lot of women cite body concerns as for what makes them self-conscious in bed, but luckily there is plenty that you can do about that.
Working out also helps to boost the circulation in the body which increases blood flow to the nether regions…which is what is responsible for both those tingly excited feelings and the lubrication that follows. The fact that exercise can reduce stress is also helpful for women and intimacy since we tend to have a hard time getting things off our mind when we’re stressed which can negatively affect our drive and being present in the moment. Exercise also affects the hormones in the body, like balancing the levels of testosterone and of course releasing endorphins.
6. Sign A Contract
If you’re really resisting this working out thing, you might want to consider signing an actual commitment contract. If that notion makes you want to run for the hills then it might actually be something worth doing. If you sign an actual contract in front of other people vowing to do something it can make it a lot more real than just thinking to yourself that you’d like to try pilates one day.
There is something about having a witness outside of the self that helps to hold you more accountable. There are even websites out there that you can sign workout pledges on if you don’t feel like doing it with your buddies but still want to put something formal out into the universe.
It certainly isn’t a necessary step for everyone, but you also don’t have much to lose if you have to look for motivation in all the wrong places in the past. There are even apps where you can get money involved if losing a few bucks for skipping a workout is more of a motivator than just signing a piece of paper.
5. Understand The Mental Benefits
Working out has all kinds of benefits that go beyond the physical. Well, partly what’s happening is that many of the physical benefits actually seep into the mental parts as well. Exercise is extremely good at reducing stress in both the short and long term, which means it can bust you out of bad moods as well as an increase in your well-being in general.
When you’re having a rough day it can be just the thing to change up the pace and shake up your mental state by distracting you and giving you a physical task to take on, not to mention to get all of those feel-good endorphins flowing. In some cases sticking to a regular workout schedule can be as effective as taking antidepressants to treat anxiety and depression. Exercise also increases a chemical called norepinephrine, which is responsible for helping the brain to moderate stress. Even just getting 30 minutes of exercise a couple days each week can start bringing in the feel-good benefits to enhance the mood
4. Know That You’re Inspiring Others
Whenever you do something positive for your own life, it not only motivates other people to do the same but can trickle down to them in other ways as well. Your healthy habits enforce other healthy habits, which can make you happier and a better person in general…which also makes it easier to positively relate to other people in any way.
If your friends, family, or significant other see you committing to a workout routine they might be motivated to try it themselves, and you might even get yourself some workout buddies that can make you even more likely to stick with your own plan. That’s a real win-win. Sometimes you don’t even know that what you’re doing is inspiring people, but it’s safe to assume that it is.
You might not be the fastest rider in spin class but you’re ahead of someone else and you never know how that affects them to see you progress. Not that you need to be doing this for anyone else over yourself, but it’s a good reminder of how connected we all are in life.
3. See The Positive Results
Finding motivation for and committing to one thing in life always has the potential to positively affect other aspects of your life as well. When you commit to something and then start to see positive results, you will realize how much you can benefit from it. In retrospect, it won’t seem as tough to stick with as you thought it might be before you started, which can make you think the same of other commitments.
If any of your other goals are related to health or wellness, these can start to build upon one another. It is a lot easier to eat healthy when you’re committed to the workout part because those things go hand in hand to keeping a body fit and running clean. Maybe when you commit to working out end up spending less time drinking, or you cut back so your hangovers don’t start getting in the way of your workout goals. How this plays out will be unique to your life and your goals, but you might be able to see how far the benefits can go.
2. You Can Meet New People
If you can’t get motivated by the simple fitness aspects of working out, think of it as a great way to get out and about and meet people. Gyms and fitness classes are extremely social places and they tend to be that way because the same group of people tend to return on a regular basis again and again. It’s sort of like being in school or something in that sense, it’s not like you’re actually making plans to run into these people daily, but the shared routine is in place for all of you.
The good thing about this is that it makes it a lot easier to connect with people thanks to the casual environment. Once you’ve passed someone a couple times by the water fountain saying hi seems like the next natural step. This is great for meeting guys, and it’s also great for making friends and networking. This aspect of belonging to a gym can make the whole thing seem worth it, especially if you’re at that stage in life where you spend a lot of time with your coworkers and aren’t all that interested in being buddies with any of them. Not to mention that a lot of the guys that hang out at gyms are pretty good looking.
1. Try The Five Minute Rule
If you still can’t figure out how to motivate yourself to workout on the regular, adopt the five minute rule. This means that no matter how tired you are, you’re going to commit to at least five minutes of working out on the days that you plan to. Yes, that means lacing up the shoes and driving to wherever you’re going to be working out, or committing to one lap around the block or whatever.
What this does is get you off of your butt and moving, which is usually enough to jumpstart your motivation and more often than not you’ll just stick out the rest of the workout because you’re already there and it’s not as bad as you were anticipating it to be. In fact, it might even feel good. Of course, this is a trick that you’re in on since you know darn well that you’ll probably finish the workout, but for some reason, it works. And then if for some reason you really are that tired and can’t do more than five minutes then you won’t have to wonder whether you could have and you kept that commitment anyway. The next time, you’ll be back to normal.
StickeeBra believes in always improving ourselves, healthy and happy living, as well as maintaining close relationships with our family, partner and friends. Without the support of our loved ones, there wouldn't be us here today.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article intend to highlight alternative studies and induce conversation. They are the views of the (others) author(s) and do not necessarily represent the views of StickeeBra, and are for informational purposes only, even if and to the extent that it features the advice of physicians and medical practitioners. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied upon for specific medical advice.
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