I think the “How do I stay motivated to exercise?” question is probably one of the top 5 questions every fitness professional is asked time and time again. I will admit that as a personal trainer in San Jose for over 25 years, I have answered this question many different ways. It’s not that I’m changing my mind or philosophy—it’s that what motivates an individual to exercise (or do anything, for that matter) is unique to their personality. Every client may get a different answer based on what I know about them, how they think, and what’s important to them. We’re all motivated in different ways by different things, but I’ll share with you here some ideas that might help you discover what motivates you.
If you’re searching for ways to help motivate yourself to stick with a regular exercise program, a great first step is to ask yourself why you want to exercise in the first place! Is it to look better? Feel better? Lose weight? Decrease your back pain? Because your doctor told you to? Because you’re paying for a gym membership you don’t use? What’s your “WHY”? Write it down. Look at it. Is it important? Does it move you? If it doesn’t–there’s the reason you’re not exercising regularly :-).
Let’s assume you’ve got at least one important reason why you want to exercise regularly, and it really does move you. Write it down and post it somewhere where you can see it. If it’s at the top of your mind, it’s more likely to move you to action.
Next, you need to figure out what inspires you. This is where it gets tricky. You really need to put some thought into this. Some of us are inspired by recognition, some by money, some by social connections/relationships, and some by achievement/accomplishment. What inspires YOU? If you can figure this out, you’re that much closer to harnessing what may motivate you to keep exercising. Finding your “why” and understanding what inspires you to do things are the first two steps toward maintaining the motivation to exercise.
Once you’ve found your “why” and you’ve done a little self-discovery to understand what inspires you, put into play some processes that will boost your motivation. Here are a few ideas:
1). If social support and connections are important, consider getting an exercise buddy, joining a club (running, rowing, fencing–whatever your thing is!), or maybe joining my fitness boot camp in San Jose (yeah, you knew I was going to have to throw in a boot camp plug somewhere!),
2). If recognition is important to you, tell friends and family about your fitness goals and what you plan to achieve. Take “before” pictures and measurements, and set goals for what you want to achieve for your “after” photos. There’s nothing like a little social accountability to keep you focused on your goal!
3). If a sense of accomplishment inspires you , sign up for a footrace or another athletic event for which you must train or practice. Having a race or event date is a fabulous way to remain focused on a goal. At this time of year, there are dozens of 5k, 10k, 1/2 marathons and marathons you can enter. How about a triathlon? A bike race? Here in Silicon Valley, the sky is the limit. Sign up for something!
4). If money is important to you, consider making a bet with someone. In order to win, you have to accomplish a fitness goal or perhaps work out a certain number of time per week for a certain length of time. It’s that old accountability thing, combined with something that motivates you to take action— money. Another way you could use money as motivation is to put a few bucks in jar each time you work out. After a few months, you’ll be able to treat yourself to some little luxury (maybe some spa treatments or new workout gear!).
In a perfect world, we’d all have the motivation to work out without having to put “carrots” in front of ourselves. But, the world isn’t perfect, and neither are we. Sometimes we all need a kick in the pants to exercise more, eat a little better and take better care of ourselves.
Hopefully one of these tips will be the kick in the pants you need help you maintain your motivation to work out.
If you have found certain things that help you maintain your motivation to exercise, share them by posting a comment!
Committed to your fitness success,