20 Ways to Motivate Yourself to Work Out
How to stay motivated
We all have friends who, despite hectic schedules, never miss a day at the gym. Who can't stop talking about the next 10K. Who can't stop smiling after yoga class. Sure, they’re a little, well, obsessive about working out. But we envy them! The good news is we all have the potential to become fitness-obsessed, says Tom Holland, a Connecticut-based celebrity fitness trainer, exercise physiologist, and expert in sports psychology. Here are 20 proven ways to make exercise a habit.
Get up earlier
Give it six weeks
Find your niche
So you tried spinning and you hated it, or you hurt yourself on your first day of CrossFit. That doesn't mean that all forms of fitness aren't for you—so get back out there and try a different one. "Find something that makes you tune out and gives you a release from your daily grind," says Woll—whether that means focusing on the ground ahead of you on a trail run, or following the instructor in a Zumba class. "You'll know you found it when you look at the clock and an hour flashes by without you noticing." Holland agrees: "I always tell my clients, 'I don't exercise,'" he says. "I'll go for a run or go to the gym, but I don't think of it as exercise because that suddenly gives it a negative connotation."
Hire a trainer
Join a club
Make it convenient
Think about when, where, and how your workout can best (and most easily) fit into your daily routine, says Woll. "You don't want to travel far to get to a gym," for example, she says, "or the likelihood of going will decrease immensely." For some people, a gym near the office will help them squeeze in a workout before work or during their lunch break; for others, working out at home or at a gym near their house is more convenient. (And don't forget about where you'll work out on the weekends!) Plan ahead to make sure you can get everything you need—like clothes and shower supplies—to and from your workouts. Or take a tip from Haupert, who rented a locker at her gym so she could keep her things there all week long.
Become a groupie
Pay for it
"Being accountable with money is a good thing," says Holland, "If you invest in a fitness regimen, you're more likely to work harder to get your money's worth." (He's learned that when he gives away training sessions for free, his clients aren't nearly as motivated.) If you can afford it, joining an upscale gym or splurging on boutique fitness classes could be just the thing you need to force yourself to actually go. Or, bribe yourself with smaller investments—treat yourself to a new pair of running shoes or a new GPS watch, for example.
Don't overdo it
Get techy (and social)
For some people, the feel-good side effects of exercise are enough to keep them going. Others need something a little more tangible to get themselves up and out of bed every morning. If you thrive on statistics and numbers, you may find that using apps, computer programs, or wearable pedometers and fitness trackers can help you stay on track with a new routine. Whether you're counting your daily steps or the number of calories you've burned, technology can help you challenge yourself to new personal bests every day. Plus, many of these programs can be integrated with your social networks, making it easy to let your Facebook feed know that you just ran 3 miles or checked in at the gym. Once your friends start asking you about your new exercise habits, it may be harder to let them fall by the wayside.
Hold out on yourself
Count your calories
Set attainable goals
Skip the gym
Write it out
Make it a ritual
Don't make it about you
Plan a (fitness-focused) vacation
"Combining vacations with exercise is a great reward, and it helps people set goals that they'll actually want to accomplish," says Holland. "Say you want to go to Italy, so you sign up for a bike tour around the country while you're there; well, now you've got to get in shape for it so you can have the best possible experience while you're there." Sign up for a destination race—the Paris Marathon, for example—or just book a trip that involves a lot of physical activity, whether it's hiking or skiing.
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Skip the 'Daily Show'
If you're going to start getting up earlier (see tip No. 1), it's important to make sure you're still getting enough sleep (most of us need seven to eight hours a night). This probably means tucking yourself in at a decent hour, rather than staying up late watching Netflix or scrolling through Instagram. Luckily, research has shown that working out during the day can help you fall asleep faster and sleep better, overall, so your new exercise habit may actually make this easier. To make a permanent change in your sleeping patterns, begin shifting your bedtime up 15 minutes every night and setting your alarm for 15 minutes earlier, until you've reached your goal times (say, to bed at 10 p.m. and up at 6 a.m.).
Fitness competitions may sound pretty boring to some people; why pay money to wake up early and run around in circles, again? If a regular old 5K doesn't quite do it for you, grab some friends and sign up for something with a bit more personality. From mud runs to military-inspired obstacle courses to costumed and "color" races (which involve participants getting splattered with brightly colored paint and powder), themed fun runs are certainly having a moment. And the best part? They're all about finishing and having a good time; many of them aren't even timed, and they welcome runners and walkers of all ages and fitness levels.
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