Seven Ways to Motivate Yourself to Exercise

How do you motivate yourself to exercise when there are dozens of things you’d rather be doing?

You know it’s good for you. Exercise helps you reach and maintain a healthy body weight, lowers blood pressure, gets rid of bad cholesterol, strengthens bones, lowers your risk for cancer, and decreases stress.

But we all know the truth: finding the time and motivation to get off the couch and work out isn’t always easy.

Here are seven ways to get—and keep—the motivation to exercise regularly:

1. Find something you enjoy doing.

Many gym-goers spend hours on the treadmill even though they hate it (this used to be me).

Yet there are plenty of other forms of exercise that can be just as (or more!) beneficial for weight loss and cardiovascular health.

Try a new class, substitute long cardio sessions with interval training, join a friendly sports team with your buddies—anything that will help you look forward to exercising, rather than dread it.

2. Keep track of your progress.

Using a journal to track measurements like weight and body fat percentage as well as progress made in your workouts will keep you much more motivated than looking in the mirror every day.

Just being able to see in print (or on the screen) that all your hard work has paid off can be the motivator you need to keep you working out on a regular basis.

3. Notice how you feel after exercise.

If you’re like most people, you may be tired and unmotivated before your workout, but feel nothing short of amazing afterwards.

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Is Your Food Obsession Ruining Your Life?

Some people spend every minute of their lives obsessing over food.

Devout Paleo diet followers, for instance, nearly cry if a speck of grain touches their lips. They have a hard time eating out with friends, and can’t enjoy a rich dessert at a party. And this is the same for any extreme dieter, not just Paleo lovers.

If that’s the kind of life you want to live, go for it.

I, on the other hand, am a big believer in enjoying life.

I want to experience everything life has to offer, and yes, that means a glass or two of wine several times a week, some bread here and there, even (gasp!) a melt-in-your-mouth chocolate chip cookie once in a while.

No, I don’t eat these things every day, but I do eat them more often than you might think.

Why? I want to be happy. I want to experience life with the people around me. I don’t want to obsess about every morsel of food I eat—I want to enjoy my food.

I live by the 80/20 rule — 80% of what goes into my body has to be good food (fruits, veggies, protein, healthy fats, etc.)—and 20% can be the fun stuff (wine, treats, carbs).

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All We Have is Our Health

I was watching old episodes of Ally McBeal the other day while doing some work (don’t ask me why—the selection on Netflix is pitiful these days), and during one early episode, after everything else in her life goes wrong, she repeats, “I have my health. I have my health. I have my health…” over and over.

And it’s true, isn’t it? There are so many things that are important to us… our families, our careers, our hobbies… but without our health, where would we be?

Yet for some reason, in this day and age, people seem to take their health for granted.

There’s so much information out there about how to keep yourself healthy into old age, yet people rarely follow it—thinking instead that they are invincible and that they don’t need to do these things and follow these rules, even though everyone else should.

Think about it.

How many people do you know that value their sleep?

Eat fresh produce on a regular basis?

Make an effort to exercise and be active in their daily lives?

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Why You Should Throw Away Your Scale

Admit it… it’s depressing.

You work out on a frequent basis. You do resistance exercise and high intensity cardio like you know you should. You try and eat nutritious, healthy foods (and not too much of them) 90% of the time. But the scale refuses to budge.

And you can’t help wondering…

Do you just need to be patient, waiting for the numbers to finally get smaller?

Or could it be possible that the numbers on scale doesn’t really matter… and you’re actually making progress, despite your stagnant weight?

Why weighing yourself doesn’t work

People have been using scales to determine their physical health for ages. Long ago, someone determined that what you weigh is somehow the pinnacle of how fit and healthy you are. And society wholeheartedly accepted this.

Heck, I remember hearing about cheerleading squads in high school who wouldn’t accept anyone into their team who was over 120 pounds, despite their level of skill or overall appearance.

Not even two pounds over. Does that seem right to you?

Well, the ugly truth about the scale is that it doesn’t actually tell you how in shape you are.

Why? Because the scale only looks at your overall weight… it doesn’t consider other (more important) factors such as how much muscle you have, how dense your bones are,

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If You Can Do This During Your Workout, You're Not Working Hard Enough

Are you one of the thousands of people who wastes their time in a gym on a regular basis?

I hope not.

But it’s not uncommon. In fact, I’d say it’s the norm, rather than the exception.

Practically every day, I take my dog on a walk down our little neighborhood street in San Francisco. Every time, I pass by a little gym. When I peek inside, it’s full of people on reclining bikes, elipticles and treadmills (I’ve never seen anyone lifting weights, probably because the only weights in there are two to eight pounds).

Every day, I notice something very, very wrong about the picture I see inside that little gym.

Nearly every single one of these people is reading something — a magazine, a tablet, their phone.

Reading while exercising? Don’t do it!

Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever tried it, but reading while you do the types of high intensity workouts we do on this site is close to impossible. Whether you’re doing plyometrics, jumping rope, wall balls, or sprinting… you won’t be able to keep your eyes still enough to focus on the words.

If you like to hear stories, recent news or learn something new while you’re working out, listen to a podcast or e-book instead (I often do, though I make sure it’s something I don’t have to pay too close of attention to – This American Life is one of my favs). Don’t read a physical book.

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Healthy On-the-Go Snacks You Can Take With You Anywhere

Are you food obsessed?

Don’t feel bad answering yes (most people are, to some degree).

I am, and I’m not afraid to admit it. I think about food constantly. Just ask my husband — I’ll be finishing breakfast, lunch, or a mid-afternoon snack when I’ll suddenly ask him, “so, what should we have for dinner?”

I can attribute this food obsession to three things:

1. Low blood sugar.

Being hypoglycemic means I need food often.

In fact, if I don’t eat every two to four hours, I get dizzy, light headed, and CRANKY. Anyone who knows me knows that if I say I’m hungry, I need food right now.

2. Being vegetarian.

Especially as a kid, there weren’t many options available to vegetarians outside of making your own meals.

At restaurants, all I’d often be able to eat was salad and bread. At friends’ houses, the parents would often try to shove meat down my throat, disbelieving that a child could make her own decision about what she puts into her body.

As a result, I developed a slight (or maybe not so slight) anxiety about getting enough substantial food.

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10 No Nonsense Ways to Get Motivated to Work Out

What motivates you to get off the couch and get moving?

Is it the desire to fit into a smaller pant size or to get a flatter abdomen?

Is it the need to burn off the day’s stress and take a few moments entirely to yourself?

Or is it something else altogether?

Whatever your reason, we all have those days when it’s just not enough… And we need a some additional motivation.

Here are 10 ways you can get that extra push and get motivated to exercise today:

1. Keep track of your progress

If you feel like you’ve hit a plateau, you’ll be less motivated to work out because, well, if you’re not making any progress… what’s the point?

To avoid this, one of the very best things you can do is to keep an exercise journal. Whether it’s an online document, or a physical journal, it doesn’t matter—the important part is that you keep track of your progress so you don’t lose perspective.

Write down your reps, your completed times, your clothing size, your weight, your fat percentage… whatever is important to you. Be diligent about keeping track. Then make sure to go back and look at how far you’ve come every once in a while to keep motivated.

2. Have an accountability friend

When it comes to keeping commitments, most of us are pretty good at following through—at least when other people are involved.

Find someone to be accountable to for your workouts, and you’ll be much more motivated to keep your goals—simply because you have to answer to somebody else and you don’t want to look like a fool.

Another way to do this is to use a website like where you can set your goal and put money on the line to help motivate you to complete it.

For example, you could set a goal of working out five days a week for 30 days in a row. will make your goal public, and if you don’t achieve it, you’ll have to pay up—either to a friend, relative, colleague, charity, or worse, an anti-charity (an organization you hate).

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The Easiest Way to Get Through a Tough Workout

It happens to all of us.

We plan our workouts for the week, fully intending on completing all of them.

We have the time carved out in our schedule. But sometimes, when the time comes to actually do the workout…

It just sounds so… hard.

Sound familiar?

Maybe you’ve had a tough, stressful day.

Maybe you’re still sore from the previous day’s workout.

Or maybe you didn’t get enough sleep the night before.

Whatever the reason, there’s something in you that is completely resistant to the workout ahead of you.

So what can you do about it?

How can you push past that resistance and complete your workout?

There are many different ways to approach it, but here are the steps I follow:

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100 Ways to Get Moving Outdoors This Summer

Looking for ways to get outside this summer? Here are 100 ways to have fun and get fit outdoors:

1. Go to the beach.

2. Take your canine friend to a local dog park.

3. Try hang gliding.

4. Take up windsurfing.

5. Take up kiteboarding.

6. Do your workouts outside.

7. Go swim in a lake.

8. Go camping.

9. Learn to sail.

10. Sign up for a sprint triathlon.

11. Go for a hike.

12. Dust off your bike and take it for a ride around town.

13. Pack a picnic and eat outside.

14. Run stairs.

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