When times get tough and stress takes hold, your commitment to any kind of exercise routine is likely the first thing to go out the window.
Trust me, I get it. Especially in these strange times, when you may be mostly confined to your home and there seem to be more pressing matters at hand, like keeping germs away and bills paid.
Yet exercise can help keep you both mentally balanced and physically healthy, so it’s just as crucial as ever before to make time for it.
If you’ve let your exercise regime slide in recent weeks – or you’ve been having a hard time getting started in the first place – hit the reset button now with these 9 ways to motivate yourself to work out today.
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1. Turn it into a game
Gamifying your fitness journey is a great way to not only get started but to keep going for the long term. In my case, gamifying exercise started the day I was given a FitBit for Christmas in 2016.
For a while, I became obsessed with hitting my step goals and “out-stepping” other friends with the tracker in weekly challenges.
Walking doesn’t seem like hardcore exercise but, guess what? I lost my first 10 lbs in just a couple of months. Not only did it get me back into exercise, it primed me to take on more challenging exercises.
These days I have an apple watch and it’s the same idea; I’m obsessed with closing those “rings” that indicate how many active calories burned, minutes exercised, and time spent on my feet.
2. Just exercise at home
Honestly, I’ve never been a big fan of the gym. Sharing gym equipment and getting changed in front of strangers in the locker room has never been my idea of a good time.
Plus there’s all the preparation that goes into getting to the gym; packing your gym bag, laying out your workout clothes, accounting for the time it takes to drive there…
Fortunately, you can get into the best shape of your life in your own house, with whatever equipment you may or may not have.
If you have enough space in your house to hold your arms out to the sides and not touch a wall, you have enough space to exercise. No commute, no excuses!
3. Start a new 4-12 week program
Doing a random workout video on YouTube is all good and well, but if you don’t have any kind of structured program to follow, it can be tough to stay motivated.
But taking on a marathon of fitness (either literally or figuratively) might be just as demotivating.
So I suggest starting with a finite workout program between 4-12 weeks. It will give you an end-goal to focus on that isn’t so far away that you’ll give up before you get started.
By the time you finish, you’ll have made routine exercise a habit. And you’ll be more prepared to treat exercise as something you just do on an ongoing basis.
You’re also likely to be super motivated by the results of your short term program as well!
But what program should you do?
It depends on what you like to do and what your goals are. My personal favorite finite workout program is a toss-up between Bodyboss’ 12-week guide, or Slim 60 via Jillian Michaels’ app.
If you’re a beginner, you’ll be interested in this list of fitness programs.
4. Join a like-minded fitness community and get inspired
It really, really helps to have support and encouragement from others, especially if they are on a similar fitness journey as you.
That’s another perk of choosing a good fitness program. Almost all of them have a Facebook group of some kind that you can join.
And these groups are so helpful. I may never have finished that first run through Bodyboss if I hadn’t shared my struggles and wins with their Facebook group. And seeing other people’s success was motivating as well!
You don’t have to join a fitness program’s specific group though; you can even join a general fitness Facebook group or forum. Then get ready to feel inspired!
5. Think about the immediate benefits
Yes, long-term goals are important. But they can end up being a little daunting and, ironically, even demotivating.
That’s why having multiple, “milestone goals” are really important.
But I want to make it even simpler than that; just focus on the immediate benefits from the workout you will do today.
If you’re blanking on what those benefits might be, let me help you out:
- Increased productivity
- More energy
- Boosted confidence
- Increased creativity
- Less stress and anxiety
- A feeling of pride and accomplishment
That last one is super powerful for me. It’s my secret weapon when it comes to finding ways to motivate yourself to work out.
Because I am addicted to that feeling I get when I finish a workout!
So if I’m feeling especially unmotivated, I always try to focus on that “after” feeling. It’s usually enough for me to pull on my trainers and get to it.
6. Try something new and fun
If you loathe running, don’t run.
If the only reason you want to pick up a dumbbell is to hurl it out the nearest window, forget it.
Working out doesn’t have to be self-inflicted torture. Choose an activity you have a chance at actually enjoying.
But finding that activity might take some experimentation on your part. Maybe it’s something low-impact, like power walking.
Or, maybe it’s something totally new, like a kickboxing class.
Or a new style of yoga.
Maybe it’s dancing. (If you love dancing, you might want to check out Figure 8 Fitness. It’s a challenging but super fun Latin dance exercise program!)
7. Make it super short
Probably one of the biggest mental roadblocks preventing you from working out today is the notion that it will be a big time commitment on your part.
So take that roadblock down right now; do a 10-minute workout only.
You might think that’s too short to even bother with, but it isn’t. (I recently went into more detail about this if you’re curious about the effectiveness of short workouts.)
You might even feel like doing more, once you start. But even if you don’t, 10 minutes is still plenty of time to get a decent workout in.
8. Allow yourself to multitask
Okay yes, if you’re trying to set a PR or otherwise really push yourself, then you’ll want to stay totally focused on the workout.
But that’s not our goal today, is it? Today our goal is to actually Get The Thing Done, in whatever form that may look like.
So go ahead and watch some TV while you’re squatting. Or read a book while you’re walking on the treadmill.
It doesn’t mean you’re phoning it in. In fact, evidence suggests there may even be some pretty cool benefits to multitasking while you exercise!
Put positive connotations around exercise. Celebrate the fact that you are doing something healthy for yourself, and that by looking after yourself you can better look after others.
Be thankful for the fact that you are able to move and exercise. (Because some people physically can’t!)
Plan to reward yourself to something small after you work out today. Maybe it’s a new ebook, a hot bath, or an hour of relaxing in your backyard.
These are some pretty effective and quick ways to motivate yourself to work out today. However, some people struggle a little more with mindset when it comes to exercise, especially when it comes to forming a long-term habit.
If you fall into this camp, check out the Exercise-Hater’s Ultimate Guide to Fitness Motivation. This free guide can help you get to the root of your hangups and implement a sustainable fitness plan.
In the meantime, stay focused on today and go work out! (And you know what? I think I’m going to go work out too!)