Motivating yourself to exercise is always easy when you're planning it for the future. You may be excited about it...right up until the alarm goes off and you actually have to follow through. Where did all that motivation go?? Well, think of motivation as something we create, not something we wait for. Along with creating motivation and feeling motivated, you also need the follow through piece. Staying motivated and following through with your goals involves all these important factors: setting goals, preparing properly, having discipline, being flexible, committing, having fun, and rewarding yourself.
If you're struggling to exercise for your health, here are my top tips to keep your motivation and follow through going strong throughout the year.
Tip #1: Get Your 7-8 Hours of Sleep Every Night
First and foremost, motivation can be hindered by a lack of sleep. When you're tired, you likely won't have the energy or motivation to exercise or get to the gym. It ain't gunna happen! When you're tired, you also struggle with decision-making, another key part of reaching your goals.
Tip #2: Know Your “Why?”
It’s easy to set a health and fitness goal but take time to realize the reasons why you’re interested in pursuing a particular goal in the first place. Know why and remember why you started.
Tip #3: Schedule It
Choose a day each week to get moving and make a standing appointment on your calendar. It’s remarkable how much harder it is to bail when it’s written down in black and white. Are morning, afternoon or evening workouts better for you? That's up to you, but tip #4 might help you with that decision.
Tip #4: Schedule Morning Workouts
Exercising in the morning means you are more likely to be consistent. It also means you get it out of the way and it’s MUCH harder to blow off. It’ll also increase your energy for the rest of the day.
Tip #5: Find A Workout Partner
If you want to up your commitment and motivation factor, find someone who will meet you at your gym, at your front door, or at the trailhead.
Tip #6: Do What You Like To Do
You may think you aren’t the active type, but that just means you haven’t found the right thing.
Tip #7: Find a Fitness Class and Instructor You Love — Change It Up
Variety is the spice of life, which also goes for your weekly exercise routine. Variety can infuse more energy into your workouts. Try changing your workout schedule or try something new. Consider a group fitness class—not only will a variety of exercises alleviate any boredom of routine, but variety also keeps your physical body in balance.
I like to bounce around to what type of class feels right at that time, and of course, I pre-schedule my classes for the commitment factor. The variety of fitness class options are endless – yoga, cycling, swimming, weight training, barre, pilates, high-intensity interval training, and the list goes on and on. Find what you love, whether virtual or in-person.
Tip #8: Workout At Home
Skip all the traffic, maximize your time, and save money by exercising at home. There are so many great workouts online, and many are free. I like the NIKE app, which allows you to tailor your workout (ie: cardio vs. strength, arms vs. legs), but also take a look at Fitness Blender and Tone It Up fitness options. If you love cycling, I highly recommend a Peloton.
Tip #9: Drink Plenty of Liquids
Drink plenty of fluids, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Staying hydrated gives you energy and keeps your body working as it should. I love adding "stuff" to my water. It can be quick & simple, like adding some diced fresh ginger, cucumber or citrus of any kind (orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit), or you can create a fun recipe" — I love these ideas.
Tip #10: Let Your Work Pay Off
Set a fitness goal — like going for a walk once a week for two months — and reward yourself with a kayak rental this summer or passes for indoor rock climbing (more exercise!). I also like to reward myself with a pedicure, massage, a new piece of workout gear, or even a weekend getaway!
Tip #11: Get A ROI (Return of Investment) With Personal Training Sessions
Stop wasting money and spend it on things that are good for you, such as a few personal training sessions. A trainer will help you focus on the fitness process and progress you’re making, no matter how far or close you are to your ultimate fitness goal.
#12: What Goes Into Your Body Matters — A LOT!
When you think about the factors that contribute to staying motivated, you may not give much consideration to food. But food has a direct impact on our cognitive performance, productivity, and motivation levels. If your biology isn't functioning optimally because you're not feeding it properly, you're going to feel it. Make your eating decisions before you get hungry and prevent spikes in your blood sugar. I call it staying off the "blood sugar rollercoaster," and here's how to do that. Also, your gut health affects your brain health, and ultimately motivation. Maximize your gut health with these gut-nourishing foods.
Kelly Harrington, MS, RDN
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist for Healthy Goods
Conner TS. On carrots and curiosity: eating fruit and vegetables is associated with greater flourishing in daily life.