You have every intention of exercising, but it's been a long day at work and that little voice in your head starts piping up. "Don't go to the gym," it says. "You're too tired. There's a cold beer in the fridge. You know you'd rather lie on the couch and watch the game than sweat under a set of dumbbells."
Then the guilt creeps in. You think of all the reasons why you should work out, staying in shape and protecting your health topping the list. But the subconscious scheme to hijack your workout routine isn't easily silenced.
Even the best intentions to exercise can be overridden with dozens of excuses. It's amazing how many ways you can talk yourself out of working out. What you need to turn inspiration into perspiration is some motivation. A few of these may have been mentioned last week but some of us need all the help we can get.
Whenever you're tempted to quit your fitness program, use these motivational tips to get yourself back on track:
Motivation Tip #1: Get into your fitness program for the right reasons. Studies show that people who are externally motivated -- that is, they're working out just to drop 10 pounds or shrink their beer belly into a six-pack - don't stick with it. Those who are internally motivated -- meaning they exercise because they love it -- are the ones who stay in it for the long run. Which brings us to tip #2.
Motivation Tip #2: Love it or leave it. Exercise shouldn't be a chore. The more into your workout you are, the more likely you'll stick with it. Don't limit yourself to weight machines and treadmills. Try different programs, like yoga or Tae Kwon Do, until you find ones that are more fun than work.
Motivation Tip #3: Mix it up. Cross-train to keep things interesting and exercise different muscle groups. Switch from the elliptical to the stair climber. Alternate between machines and free weights. Don't reinvent your entire routine every week; just shift it around a little.
Motivation Tip #4: Keep at it. No one has perfect form the first day they start strength training. Every workout takes practice. If you trip over your wheels the first time you try roller skating, do it again. Eventually you'll get the hang of it.
Motivation Tip #5: Start slow. Running 10 miles your first time on the track won't make you an Olympian, but it will leave you very sore or worse, injured. Take it easy when you're getting started. Maybe you only run a quarter of a mile your first week of training. Add distance and intensity in slow but steady increments.
Motivation Tip #6: Don't push yourself too hard. There are a few reasons why half of people who start a new exercise program ditch it within the first year. One is that they can't keep up with the boot camp-like pace they've enforced on themselves. Learn your limits, and know when you've reached them.
Motivation Tip #7: Use the buddy system. When your inner demons are ordering you to the couch instead of the treadmill, a workout partner can steer you back in the right direction. It's easier to bail out on the gym than on the friend who's waiting for you there. Studies show you'll also work out longer when you have a friend along.
Motivation Tip #8: Exercise on your time. Health experts say you need at least 30 minutes of exercise a day, but try telling that to your crazy schedule. It's a lot harder to make excuses when your workout is convenient. If you work too late to get to a gym, keep a set of weights at home. If you can't do all 30 minutes at once, break exercise sessions up into 10-15 minute bursts.
Motivation Tip #9: Get addicted to exercise. Working out should be just as much a habit as brushing your teeth or eating breakfast. When you make it part of your routine, you won't have to even think about it.
Motivation Tip #10: Don't play the blame game. So what if you missed a week at the gym and wiped out an entire extra-cheese pizza over the weekend? That was the past. You have a chance to atone for your workout and diet sins by getting back into your routine today.
Motivation Tip #11: Set realistic goals. Stress "realistic." You're not going to skim off 10 pounds in a week, so just forget about it. Try something more achievable. Increase your workout schedule from two to three days a week, or add 15 minutes to each workout.
Motivation Tip #12: Keep a journal. That doesn't mean writing down your innermost emotions in a diary. This is an exercise journal where you keep track of how much you lift, how far you run, and how much your body is improving. Seeing your successes on paper will motivate you to keep going.
Motivation Tip #13: Appreciate the little things. You're not going to transform your body from flabby to ripped overnight. It takes weeks, even months, to see real changes. Even a pound of weight loss is reason to celebrate.
Motivation Tip #14: Say thanks. When the mirror starts reflecting the results of your workout, reward yourself for what you've achieved. Go out for a drink with friends to celebrate, or buy yourself a new, smaller-sized pair of jeans.
In my own journey, I've found that every single one of these has worked for me at different points along the trail. Right now I focus on helping others stay accountable too. Want some help, you shouldn't have to go at it alone! Use the contact form or shoot me an email for support in reaching your goals.
To your health,