Everyone struggles with coming up with the motivation to work out. If exercise were as easy as sitting on the couch eating popcorn, everyone would be an Ironman. Alas, staying fit takes work and a few clever mind tricks to keep us lacing up our Nikes and knocking out a great workout consistently.
1) Get a workout buddy for accountability
Whether you are lucky enough to find that special someone to kick your butt daily for free or you hire a trainer, having someone to motivate you is critical. Being accountable to someone for fitness goals is much more effective than answering to yourself. You will work much harder for someone else and see results faster.
2) Join a club
The social aspect of working out is a great motivator to keep it up. No matter your fitness passion, there are great clubs in your area filled with amazing potential friendships. You will meet people who can encourage you and give you training tips. You can also tap into your competitive nature and try to keep up with the fastest members of the group. Joining my running and triathlon clubs improved my racing performance better than anything other factor.
3) Goals = Dreams with a Deadline
Determine your goals, write them down, and share them with accountability partners to keep you honest. Remember to make your goals SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time Sensitive).
4) Work towards something
I don’t get serious about my workouts until I am training for a race. The fear of failure is a great motivator. Knowing your race times will be available to the world is often the final push needed to put in the time in training to see a new personal record.
5) Reward yourself for reaching goals
Find fun ways to reward yourself for reaching your goals. Tell yourself if you reach a certain waist size, you will go shopping for sexy new clothes. Or, if you meet a fitness benchmark, you will plan a fun weekend getaway. Whatever you want to do, make it a prize for a challenge you can conquer.
6) Mark your calendar
Remember when your teacher put a gold star by your name for attendance? It was a major motivator for me to see an unbroken star streak. Believe it or not, this still works after kindergarten! Put a mark (or gold star if you prefer) on your calendar for every day you work out. After a while, seeing all that progress starts to look great and you don’t want to break the streak.
7) Read motivating stuff
Read books about your favorite athletes! Study how they overcame their training struggles – like lacking motivation – and implement their strategies into your routine. Ask your friends and fellow athletes to share positive stories about how they overcame difficulties. Filling your mind with inspiration often leads to perspiration.
8) Get great entertainment for the workout
If you have a lot of alone time while training, make sure to fill up your iPod with motivating music or funny audiobooks. Only let yourself listen to those specific programs while working out. Whatever you choose, make sure you will have a good time. If you don’t have fun, you lose motivation quickly.
9) Embrace adventure
Try to find exciting new routes and adventure for your workouts. Exploration is a big part of life. Make sure you are working out in the most beautiful place possible. For example, instead of swimming in a pool, I embrace open-water workouts and swim through schools of beautiful fish. Instead of running on a dusty track, I will run barefoot on the beach or climb mountains to be rewarded with beautiful views from the top.
10) Acknowledge your success
Too many times, we just look on our failures. Don’t fall in this trap of being so hard on yourself. Instead, keep track of your successes. For example, here’s how it sounds in my head after a race, “Remember when you couldn’t run a mile? Well, now you ran a marathon. So what if the time wasn’t exactly what you wanted! There’s always the next race! But… YOU JUST RAN A MARATHON!” Keeping this mindset can help you off the precipice of more than a few potential pity parties.
11) Have hot running clothes
The more you feel like an elite athlete, the better you will perform. When you know you look good during your workout, you are more motivated to keep it up!
12) Find what motivates you
We are all unique. I happen to be motivated by my own personal head games. For example, as soon as I wake up, I put on my running clothes. This way, I’m in the mindset to get my workout knocked out early in the day. I also have a better-earn-your-shower rule. This means that I don’t get to take a shower unless I’ve earned it by doing a workout. Of course, there are exceptions to this, but I try to follow it. Since I love taking a daily shower, I also make sure to earn it with a daily workout first.
Just remember, motivation is not a blessing reserved for a select few, it is a skill that can be learned and improved with time. Dig deep. Find your passion. Implement these strategies. And go for your dreams!