For many, the hardest part of working out is just getting to the gym.
Often, after a long day of work (plus a long commute), the only thing you feel like doing is relaxing. And if you have a busy family, you might have all kinds of obligations that keep you busy until you go to sleep.
So how do you find the motivation to exercise when it’s hard enough just to get started? Luckily, there are simple methods to start working out consistently, build new habits and overcome almost any obstacle in your journey.
MAKE SMALLER COMMITMENTS
Many people struggle to exercise because they choose massive, overwhelming goals. It’s nice to have big ambitions, but when you throw too much at yourself at once, you’re only setting yourself up for failure.
Instead, start with smaller goals to build momentum and confidence, and then give each one 100% effort. For example, instead of trying to eat healthfully 100% of the time (which can be tough if you’re just starting), start with just 80%.
Other great bite-sized goals include:
- Running at a certain pace
- Losing your first 5 pounds
- Lifting a certain weight
- Cooking a certain number of meals per week at home
You already know smaller goals are better than trying to move hypothetical mountains. Once you actually achieve those goals, it’s important to reward yourself for your hard work.
Treat yourself to a day-trip to your favorite getaway, cool new workout clothes or tickets to your favorite show. Just make sure your reward doesn’t undo the health improvements you just made (That means limiting the ice cream reward after each tough workout!).
Rewards make fitness more fun, positive and motivating. Plus, the right incentive might be all you need to achieve incredible things.
FOCUS ON THE JOURNEY, NOT THE DESTINATION
Fitness is a long journey with many ups and downs, regardless of whether you’re a beginner or an Olympic athlete. When you’re only focused on your goal, you’ll struggle. That’s because you might get frustrated if all your hard work and sacrifice still doesn’t help you achieve your desired results, which hurts your motivation and confidence.
Instead, turn your focus to the journey. Lean into the moments and efforts that lead to the goal: making sure you exercise enough each week, eat the right number of healthy meals, get the appropriate amount of sleep, etc.
When you concentrate on each step, your chances of reaching your destination are much higher.
FIND A FITNESS FRIEND
As the adage goes, “birds of a feather flock together.”
Having a trusted friend join you in your fitness journey can make a huge difference in your success. Get them involved by going to the gym together or messaging each other when you’re about to work out. You can even keep each other accountable and give each other a kick in the backside when needed.
If you can’t find a partner, try joining workout classes at your gym, bootcamp groups or running meetups to find new friends who share your goals.
It only takes a few seconds to add your workout to your calendar, but doing so goes a long way toward helping you build habits and stay consistent. When you put exercise into your calendar (no matter how short or long), you prioritize the workout in your day and it creates a mini-commitment to get it done. As a result, you have to schedule your appointments around your workouts — instead of the opposite — so you never run out of time by day’s end. This takes a lot of the obstacles out of exercise, which makes it easier to get it done.
CHANGE YOUR LANGUAGE
What you say carries more weight than you think. For example, do you ever say things (or hear other people say things) like:
- I can’t do it.
- I’m just no good at this.
- It’s too hard.
- I’ll never reach my goals.
Unfortunately, these phrases can limit your results and become self-fulfilling statements. Start being very careful and intentional with what you say (and think!), and try using more positive and empowering statements like:
- I can do it.
- I commit to becoming good at fitness.
- It’s getting easier and easier every time.
- I will reach my goals.
Change your thoughts, and you’ll change your results.
PREPARE, PREPARE, PREPARE
It’s normal to feel tired and unmotivated after a long day of work; it will be even harder when you have to drive home from work, find your workout clothes, find your workout shoes, get dressed in those workout clothes, grab water or a snack and then finally drive to the gym.
Instead, take the friction out of exercise. Have your gym bag with all your essentials packed and ready to go, and bring it with you to work so you don’t need to make an extra trip. If you want to jog before work, have your running shoes, clothes and nutrition laid out by your bed so you can do it first thing in the morning.
Trust us: This goes a long way toward making life easier and helps keep your motivation levels high.