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8 Ways to Stay Motivated

8 Way to Stay Motivated

Sometimes the toughest part of an exercise program is getting motivated. On any given morning, I can make up dozens of excuses to justify skipping my workout. After all, doing nothing is far easier than taking action. On those days when I need a little kick in the butt, these are some of the ways I inspire myself.

Visualize success.  Visualize success. I picture myself at the beach. There are two options. One is what I look like after a workout and the other is if I sit on my butt all day. Imagining the different reactions I get with a six-pack versus a beer belly makes the gym much more attractive.

Calculate the financila rewards.  Calculate the financial rewards. Carrying around too much weight is expensive. Medications to control blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes cost hundreds each month. I've seen first-hand all the money clients save by dropping the weight and being able to quit pills that cost hundreds of dollars a year. People who are in shape also earn more money and take fewer sick days off. Rather than seeing it as an expense, exercise is something that helps me make and save more money.

Explore new activities.  Explore new activities. Don't simply accept another day doing the same old cardio, look for fun things that burn calories. When it's cold I rented a pair of snowshoes and took a hike with my camera. Another time I borrowed some cross country skis and spent time getting acquainted with the trails around my family home. During the summer I've learned how to kayak, use in-line skates, paddleboard and snorkel. I even spent a few fun weekends playing dodgeball. Turning exercise into an adventure makes it all exciting.

Get a workout buddy.  Get a workout buddy. When someone else is counting on me to show up, it's easier to get off my butt. I like a gym partner that won't listen to lame excuses or let me off easy when I'm feeling a little less than enthusiastic. Then when I get to the gym, I've got someone who can help spot me on the heavier exercises and provide a little friendly competition.

Set a goal and pay for it.  Set a goal and pay for it. For example, pick a race you want to be in, register and pay the fee so you're committed. Then use every workout as a way to get prepared for that goal. An even better idea is to sign up with a charity that's having a fitness fundraiser. Key West organizations like Zonta or the AIDS Help Smart Ride are two good options. Nationally groups like Team in Training provide excellent coaching weeks before the event and races you can choose from around the country.

Commit to a 10-minute reality check.  Commit to a 10-minute reality check. Sometimes when I think I'm just too tired for exercise, I commit to a 10-minute session. Then I go in just to warm up. After a few minutes of cardio, if I'm still too tired for a workout I listen to my body and head home. But more often than not, that warm up session wakes me up and I'm ready to do some real work.

Exercise at home.  Exercise at home. A good workout doesn't have to happen in the gym. Pop in a fitness DVD, jog around your neighborhood or try some bodyweight exercises. You can still get a good workout even without a set of dumbbells or machines.

Give yourself a midday break.  Give yourself a midday break. Sometimes it seems like the clock is taking forever to move a minute. That's when I like to split the day up and get a workout in during lunch. I get the energy and relief from boredom while my boss gets a freshly charged employee when I get back.

Ultimately you need to choose SOMETHING. You don't have to pick any of my ideas, but when you're feeling listless you need a plan to make sure the workouts continue. Some ideas work brilliantly while others will fall flat. Treat failure as a stepping-stone to the next attempt. The responsibility now rests in your hands.

BONUS TIP: Choose an outside trigger to signal the start of your workout. It might be an alarm to leave for the gym. What you do when you leave work. The action you take after you read the morning paper. One of the ways scientists could tell if a person was going to continue with an exercise routine, was if they had some sort of regular outside signal that it was time to go. Once the alarm has gone off, you can go on autopilot and get it done.

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3/27/2011
Updated 3/15/2017