How to Stay Motivated to Work Out
by Emily Lemon & Hana Medvesek
Are you ready to make some positive changes in your life? Maybe you’ve tried it before and stuck with it for a few weeks or even months. You started to notice a difference in your energy levels, quality of sleep, and how you felt in your body. But then there was a setback. Maybe you got sick, went on vacation, or had to work on a big project that devoured all your time. Your routine was interrupted, and you’re ready to make a new beginning.
Understanding how the brain works with you and sometimes against you as you try to get back to your routine can help you identify the best strategy to get you committed to fitness again.
3 Key Factors in Exercise Commitment
There are three essential things to remember when establishing a new exercise routine. Try writing these phrases down and sticking them on your wall so you don’t forget.
Whether you are learning a new language, a musical instrument, or how to have healthy relationships with people, the principle is the same. You need to be patient with yourself. Improving at something takes time, and you will mess up a lot along the way. It’s no different with strength training.
The more time you invest in it and the more you practice, the better you will get. And the changes you experience in your mind and body are incredibly rewarding. So, be patient with yourself along your strength journey. Forgive yourself for taking breaks or overdoing it once in a while. Remember, this is a long-term investment in your relationship with yourself.
2. Building Good Habits
The ability to create healthy habits has nothing to do with strength of character or willpower. There are established strategies we can implement to set ourselves up for success. These include starting with little changes, such as refilling your water glass every time you go to the toilet at work to make sure you’re staying hydrated. It also helps if you do it every day, so if fitness is your goal, build more movement into your daily schedule by doing two push-ups when you get out of bed every morning or squats while you brush your teeth.
Establishing cues for your habits can make them become automatic. For example, put your workout clothes out the night before if you plan to exercise in the mornings. You’ll be more likely to put them on if you see them when you wake up. For more guidance on building healthy habits, check out our blog post on the topic.
One of the best ways to stay committed to fitness is to have the right mindset. Following a plan can give you the structure and guidance you need to make sure you are challenged but not overdoing it, but what really matters is purpose.
Mindset matters so much, in fact, that it can directly affect measurable aspects of your health. In 2007, researchers at Harvard University studied the effect of telling people they were getting exercise in their daily job cleaning hotel rooms compared to a control group that was not told this information. The results showed a decrease in weight, blood pressure, body fat, and BMI among the group compared to the control group. You have a vision of what kind of life you want to lead; stay focused on that. Think about what you gain as you work towards it and what you will miss out on if you quit.
3 Tips to Stay Committed to Fitness
Feel why you’re doing this
What is the long-term effect of achieving your goal? What would make you proud and why? Keep exploring until you find an answer that feels emotionally charged. When you are emotionally connected to your vision, it motivates you on a deeper level.
What is your vision of a “stronger you”?
Maybe it’s about keeping up with your kids, watching your parents age, or having adventures with your spouse or friends. Maybe you want to be a role model. Or perhaps you used to have more energy and want to get it back. Something within you moved you to start your strength journey, and this is what gives you purpose. Remembering what moved you to start can help you stick to your decision.
Surround yourself with reminders
Most of us reach for our phones out of habit hundreds of times a day. Why not use this to your advantage? An easy way to do this is to choose a wallpaper on your phone that reminds you of your vision. That way, you can connect to your inner purpose for training daily. Once you experience your first setback, you will easily remember the importance of starting in the first place.
Track your commitment
Instead of focusing on the outcome, like the number on the scale, focus on the actions first, like doing three workouts a week. For any new habit, especially strength training, it really helps to have a place where you can tick off the work you’ve done. The more details you track, such as which weights you use during a workout, the better! That way, when that critical voice in your head starts saying you aren’t making enough progress, you have evidence that you were doing the work and an effective way to assess whether you need to make changes to your plan or just stick to it.
Now you’ve got a better understanding of how to stay motivated to work out, so remember: your vision can make all the difference in staying committed to fitness. If you have an emotional connection to your purpose, you are more likely to stay committed to achieving your goals. Set yourself up for success by establishing healthy habits in your everyday life and reminding yourself of what. And remember to keep track of your activities so you can look back and be proud of how far you’ve come!