Sometimes at night, I make myself solemn promises that the next day I will start a brand new and fabulous exercise regime. I have done it in the past and I know I will do it in the future. Exercise brings better health, increased discipline, strength, good looks, increased focus and confidence, yes, confidence. I know this to be true, but I go through periods of time when exercise is one of the tasks that will be done ‘first thing tomorrow morning’. I realize this is dumping more chores and stuff I can’t fit into my schedule on my older self, the one that lives about 12 hours further in the future than I do. I can find plenty of excuses for not working out: a new baby, a startup I am launching, feeling tired most of the time, deadlines and pesky (but highly appreciated) clients that call over and over and over again. But what if an excuse is not what I am looking for today, but a way how I can keep the promise I made myself tomorrow?
Your reasons to exercise might be different than mine, but I will bet you that we share a at least a few, if not most of them:
- weight loss
- better cardiovascular health
- reduce your risk for a host of diseases. Significantly
- generally improve your focus
- better dexterity and higher efficiency at day-to-day chores and tasks
- a higher life expectancy
- improving your chances at finding your significant other (and I am not talking only about getting better looks, read below)
- be more confident
- improve your mood and mental health. Exercise is a very good way to combat depression, anxiety and get a lighter mood.
- just to get out of the house and, maybe, be part of an exercise group
But sometimes, yes, you are correct, reasons are not enough to get you going. It’s like knowing that you should eat healthier. You might even do it for a while – a day, a week or a couple of months. And then life gets at you and shifts your focus to other, more urgent responsibilities. Bye bye broccoli, hello pizza delivery guy.
Motivation, on the other hand, is a whole different animal. It is something that you feel. A fire that stokes your commitment to exercise and keeps it going through the trials of passing time and increasing responsibilities. Motivation to exercise is a mental process that is cultivated and then carefully maintained.
Let’s see if we can take it apart to its smallest parts – bolts and nuts and everything.
Do not forget to consult a doctor before starting any diet or exercise regime.
Identify What’s Keeping You From Exercising
Let’s reverse our thinking and see what is making it harder for you to exercise:
- muscle pain
- lack of planning
This step is necessary so you can solve that last point in the list. After identifying the issues that you face, you’ll be able to make a plan how to solve them. For example, if time is an issue, you might want to look at how to exercise at home or how to work out in a sitting position – this is also a way how you can exercise for free. For muscle pain, you can increase your protein intake or reduce your workout intensity and you can search Youtube for senior workouts. Shyness is just one of those feelings that do not have any roots in reality. There is not one single person that is superior to you out there. They just have different lives, different genetics, opportunities and, most important, a different attitude. You will see gym rats strutting through every gym. Most of them are nice, this is one case in which stereotypes have failed us. Yes, you might encounter a narcissistic jerk out there that smirks and throws out distasteful looks left and right. My advice is to get yourself a pair of headphones, stick them in your ears (even if you are not playing anything) and ignore the bastard. This is probably the only thing of value they have been doing for a long time. And come to think about it, my attitude towards overweight people working out at the gym is one of admiration – because I know for a fact that is a lot harder to exercise when you are carrying extra pounds and are out of shape than it is when you are toned and lean.
Also, a fact that is worth mentioning twice is plan, plan. Plan your first exercise sessions and how to deal with muscle pain – increase protein intake, go easy on yourself and gradually increase the workout intensity. Plan your exercise sessions differently for each day of the week if your schedule requires it.
Ways To Motivate Yourself To Exercise
Let’s remember that motivation is a feeling, a drive, enthusiasm and an ambition that you need to cultivate. You will need to give me a hand with this and observe which workout motivation tips give the best results for you.
Get A Workout Buddy
It can be a friend, spouse, relative or anyone else that you feel safe to exercise with. They will make the workouts a lot more fun – they will motivate you to exercise even if you are depressed, not feeling like it or thinking about skipping the session. They also bring in a little bit of friendly competition and keep things varied and interesting.
If you can’t get a workout buddy, keep on reading and find ways how to motivate yourself to workout alone until you get one.
Use Peer Pressure
Use your fears and your desires, your needs, or even your responsibilities to motivate yourself to exercise. What got me going 8 years ago was fear. I was experiencing some health issues (that I have managed to solve for the most part since) at the time. I was feeling miserable and I felt that if I don’t do something about it, they were about to get worse. A lot worse. I know look at exercising as one of the unspoken survival needs of the body.
Here are some examples of peer pressure:
- fear of getting sick(er)
- fear of being lonely
- the desire to find your significant other
- need to rethink your daily routine
- a need to keep your significant other happy and make them stop worrying about you
- a responsibility to yourself to lead a better, more active life
You cannot hit a target that you cannot see. Set a target objective for your workouts, such as:
- a number of times to exercise weekly. Do not overdo it, especially at the beginning. Aim for 3-4 times per week for medium to hard exercise (you can do light exercise such as walking daily)
- a number of reps or a time spent on the treadmill.
- a number of pounds you want to lose or to gain as muscle mass
- a different clothing size
Make these objectives very easy to accomplish at first and establish a deadline when you want to reach them.
Just, please, don’t do it with food. Take yourself out to watch a movie or buy that pretty shirt you saw the other day. Once you reach your workout goals, give yourself something nice as a reward, such as some outdoor equipment. It doesn’t have to be expensive or exotic, just something that marks your accomplishment. Good job!
Make A Motivational Kit
Put a motivational poster on the kitchen wall that reminds you of why you want to exercise. It can be as simple as a printed quote, or a couple of workout motivational pictures that inspire you (I have 2 letter sized posters hanging on my kitchen wall). Print a card and keep it in your wallet. Put together a workout playlist that gets you going.
Make It A Game
Nowadays you can literally do so. I love video games, but unfortunately, I can’t spare them the 12 hours daily I think they deserve. In fact, I only do it about once a week (oh, the horror of it).
There a lot of workout games that play on most consoles. Just Dance is one of my favorite games to play on my Xbox because it is sooooo much fun to play with or without company. And it also gives you a very good workout. There are plenty more games like it.
You can also play workout games at the gym. Take a hula hoop, football, basketball and challenge your workout partner to a fun workout game.
Believe That You Can Do It
Belief is a big part of getting motivated. The universe loves a believer. Think about it, if you want to go out and start exercising outdoors, you have to believe that is possible first. Otherwise, you might not even try to do it. Same as motivation, belief is a feeling that you have to cultivate. You do that by positive affirmations (proven methods to improve your self-confidence and determination) and by setting small goals that give you a confidence boost.
Make It A Habit
Make your workout sessions a habit. This is probably the best way to motivate yourself to exercise in the long run. Exercising becomes something that you do regularly, like brushing your teeth. It also becomes a lot easier, you know what you have to do, and you probably have experienced its benefits already.
I know for a fact that there are a lot more ways how to motivate yourself to exercise. There are a lot of people that have their own, specific setbacks to overcome. If you have your own way to motivate yourself to workout alone, or with a buddy, please share it with us in the comments section.