Family and friends usually ask me how I stayed motivated for exercise. The truth is, I don’t.
When I started my fitness journey, my motivation was losing weight. I was tired of being unhappy in my skin. However, motivation is not a constant.
Sometimes I feel motivated because I’m really excited about a new fitness plan or a new workout outfit. Other times I’m motivated to lose weight because of a big event. Other times my motivation is to reduce aches and pains in my back or knee.
But that’s the problem with relying on motivation based on excitement. You’re not always going to have that excitement because life happens.
How to Stay Motivated for Exercise
Identify your goals
What are your goals for exercise? Is it to lose weight? Strengthen surrounding muscles to reduce muscle strain? Improve your cardiovascular fitness?
Write down your goals, or share them with a friend. Sometimes sharing your goal with a friend or writing it down helps reinforce the desired behavior. Which leads me to my next point.
Have realistic expectations
Sometimes we bite off more than we can chew. Been there, done that. Set yourself up for success by setting smaller, bite-sized goals. (See what I did there?) Setting smaller goals will keep you motivated because success feels good.
For example, say your goal is to run a 5k. You can’t expect to go from not exercising at all to running a 5k race. Be kind to yourself, start slow, and have patience.
Pick a plan that fits your lifestyle
Maybe you like swimming. Maybe you love hitting the pavement to run. You will have more success sticking with a plan that you like.
I love a mix of weight lifting and cardio, and that’s the plan I love in my favorite fitness app. I’ve learned that my knees ache if I do tons of jumping (plyometrics) and I do best with the tried and true cardio + strength training.
If you want to improve your cardio, make it a goal to work through the C25k app. It’s free, and it sets you up for success by slowly challenging your body.
Track your workouts
Some like to keep a fitness journal. I like to use my fitness watch. I like that I can look back on the calendar and see my workouts at a glance. I find it encouraging to see all of my “rings” fill out by the end of each day.
Find an accountability partner
Having a friend going through this journey with you is one of the best motivators. I know that I delayed starting my fitness journey because my husband is not interested in exercise for fitness. He will go swimming or play a competitive sport, like tennis, for entertainment and exercise. (This goes back to picking a plan that works best for you)
One of my long-time accountability partners is a friend from college. Even though we live hundreds of mile apart, our Apple fitness watches lets the other know when we complete a workout. Just having that little reminder is enough to spark a little competitiveness to help me keep going.
If you took an unintended break from exercise
Identify what caused the break in your routine. Was it something out of your control? Forgive yourself. Or, was it something within your control? FORGIVE YOURSELF. Punishing yourself with negative thoughts isn’t healthy, and the whole purpose of exercising is to improve your health.
Do something nice to motivate yourself. Yes, bribery totally works on myself, haha. So go ahead and treat yourself to those AirPods or those new running shoes. It will help you achieve your goals while also giving you positive reinforcement.
Plan your workout time to work with your lifestyle. Maybe working out at night stopped working for you because you’re too tired, or because friends make spontaneous plans. Schedule your workout for the mornings. Or, maybe you’re a night owl? Plan your workout for the evenings to help you unwind after your shower. Work with your lifestyle