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 Stickk.com 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. Stickk.com 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).
Of course, you don’t have to put money down if you don’t want to, but Stickk.com boasts that if you do, the chances you’ll complete your goal are three times higher. Apparently money is quite the motivator.
3. Join a community
There’s a reason why people like exercising in groups, such as going to a group exercise class or joining a sports team—they like being part of a community.
This is one of the things I love about CrossFit—the workouts may make you want to vomit every time but the community support is just so rewarding.
Of course, since you may not want to join a physical community due to time constraints, another option is finding an online support group.
Connect with others on this site, find a forum of people interested in the same approach to fitness as you, find a group of like-minded people on Twitter… whatever it takes for you to feel like you have a support family who keeps your goals on track.
4. Don’t work out… and see how you feel
Feel like you just can’t do it anymore? You’re too tired, too sore, too uninspired to put on your workout clothes and get moving?
Take a few days off. Heck, take a week off. Then note how you feel. If you’re like most people, you’ll have less energy… get a worse night’s sleep… and feel less confident about yourself and your body than you did when you were exercising regularly.
You might even miss the feeling of being sore.
That’ll get you moving again.
5. Start a rewards system
Beginning a strict exercise program and starting a new, healthy diet at the same time is really no fun for anyone.
It makes you feel like all you’re doing is depriving yourself of the things you love, and if you continue on that path, you’ll be less likely to stick with either longterm.
To offset these negative feelings (which will only do more harm than good), try and start a rewards system. Think of something that would make you really, really happy—maybe a latte, a frozen yogurt, a new pair of shoes, etc.—and then make sure you reward yourself with that thing when you’re keeping on track with your workouts.
For best results, make this consistant—i.e. if you do five workouts this week you can have a slice of pizza on Friday, etc.
6. Take before and after pictures
It may sound painful, but when you’re first starting out, snap a photo of yourself in the mirror.
Take another photo two weeks later. Then two weeks after that.
There’s no better way to see how far you’ve come—and what you don’t want to go back to—when looking at the proof in the pictures.
7. Sign up for an event
There’s no better motivator to get moving than signing up for an athletic event 3-6 months out. Whether it’s a sprint triathlon, a 5k, even a half marathon—it doesn’t really matter.
You’ll stop thinking of working out as a temporary torture mechanism, and start thinking of it as your ticket to completing the event—and saving face.
After all, you won’t want to be the only one huffing and puffing the entire time.
Bonus: get a friend or family member to train with you. It’s loads more fun. Trust me.
8. Get your whole family involved
If you’re the only one in your family suddenly changing your diet and exercise habits, of course you’re going to have a hard time sticking to them.
Instead, try and get them involved somehow—but make sure and make it fun. If they claim to detest exercise, disguise it as entertainment. Go on walks together, have contests, play catch in the backyard, organize a mini sports game—whatever it takes to get you all moving.
You’ll soon find that you not only look forward to spending the time together, you’re also enjoying the exercise.
9. Take up a new sport
Rather than suffering on your own for no apparent reason, try a new sport instead. You’ll have so much fun learning the new techniques and goofing off with your teammates (or opponents), you won’t even remember it’s exercise.
Boxing and Krav Maga have been sports I’ve really enjoyed learning the past few years, but you could also try Cyclocross, kite boarding, windsurfing, rock climbing, tennis—basically anything that sounds fun to you.
10. Reframe your view of exercise
Rather than view exercise as a temporary temporary solution to lose weight, think of it as a longterm goal to live a longer, healthier life…
A life where you can spare your children the pain of you becoming unhealthy and incapable at a young age…
A life where you can keep up with your grandkids…
A life of health, balance, and happiness.
Because we need to take care of our bodies today… or they will fall apart tomorrow.
And you don’t want that to happen, do you?