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Last Updated on August 27, 2020

7 Strategies on How to Motivate Yourself to Work out

7 Strategies on How to Motivate Yourself to Work out

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[1], 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.

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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[2]. 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.

If you want to know more on how to choose an accountability partner, check out this article.

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.

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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.

Office stretches help you learn how to motivate yourself to work out

    For some quick office stretches, check out this article.

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    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

    It may sound kind of crazy at first, but employing the use of an alter ego can be a great way to break out of a habit or create some life changes you desire. In his book The Alter Ego Effect, 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!

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    7. Drink Lots of Water

    Sometimes the simplest rules are the most important. We all know we are supposed to be hydrated throughout the day. However, if you’re busy all day at work, and you’ve nursed a big tumbler of coffee all morning, suddenly it might be early afternoon and you realize you haven’t had any water today.

    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”[3].

    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.

    Final Thoughts

    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!

    More on How to Motivate Yourself to Work out

    Featured photo credit: Jonathan Borba via unsplash.com

    Reference

    More by this author

    Paige Bainbridge

    Pilates Instructor, Wife, Mother, Blogger/Writer, Community Activist in Nashville, TN

    10 Ways to Boost Your Workout Motivation

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    Last Updated on October 20, 2020

    How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

    How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

    You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

    We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

    The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

    Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

    1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

    Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

    For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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    • (1) Research
    • (2) Deciding the topic
    • (3) Creating the outline
    • (4) Drafting the content
    • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
    • (6) Revision
    • (7) etc.

    Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

    2. Change Your Environment

    Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

    One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

    3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

    Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

    Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

    My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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    Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

    4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

    If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

    Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

    I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

    5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

    I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

    Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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    As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

    6. Get a Buddy

    Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

    I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

    7. Tell Others About Your Goals

    This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

    For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

    8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

    What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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    9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

    If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

    Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

    10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

    Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

    Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

    11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

    At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

    Reality check:

    I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future. Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

    Bonus: Think Like a Rhino

    More Tips for Procrastinators to Start Taking Action

    Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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