10 ways to stick to working out

Remember how you felt on January 1st? You were committed to your workout plan, and you were not going to quit this time. You were getting up early, prepping your meals, no excuses, and you were going to meet your goals. You had enough of overeating and being inactive over the holidays, and you were ready to make a change.

Then… life happened. You skipped one workout, promising yourself you’d do a double the next day. One workout turned into two and then… a week went by without you even lacing up your sneakers. Don’t beat yourself up. From fitness professionals to people who are training to walk their first 5K, everyone has times when their motivation to get in shape wavers.

Being motivated to work out is great, but motivation doesn’t last. Habits last. Put these tips into practice to keep you going on the days when your motivation isn’t what it used to be, and you need solid habits to carry you through.

Ten Ways to Stick to Working Out

Get Out the Old Fashioned Paper Schedule, and Get to Work.

Get out a planner and a pen (not a pencil). Schedule your workouts for the next week. Not just the days- schedule the times as well. It’s time to start treating your workouts like important appointments you’ve made with your boss.

You wouldn’t cancel those, and you’re not going to cancel these appointments with yourself either. When someone wants to make plans, consult your schedule.

During your workout times, you’re not available. End of story. It’s time to start taking your commitments to yourself as seriously as you take your commitments to everyone else. The best part of writing it down- you get to cross it out when it’s done!

Get Crazy About Your Night Time Routine.

Whether you prefer to work out before the sun comes up or not, having everything prepared for the following day’s workout is key in helping you stick to your plan. Before you go to bed each night, think through everything you’ll need to have a successful workout the next day.

  • Do you need to lay out your weights?
  • Find your gym membership card?
  • Get your workout clothes out of the dryer, fold them, and put them in your gym bag?

Think through every little step you can do ahead of time, and get it done. When those tiny roadblocks are removed, it makes getting started the next day that much easier. Bonus points if you put together a fun new playlist for yourself- nothing will motivate you to get moving like knowing you’ve got some great new music on deck.

Feeling Fatigued? Check Your Fuel.

You can’t run on an empty tank and expect to be successful. If your goal is weight loss, it can be tempting to eat as little as possible, but slashing your caloric intake is not sustainable and will lead to burnout (or worse- health problems).

Talk to your doctor, a registered dietician to find out what’s a good target number of calories for you to eat each day in order to meet your goals. Use a tracking app, like Lose It or Myfitnesspal to keep track of how many calories you’re eating throughout the day.

Stay within your limit for slow, sustainable progress that won’t disappear the moment you decide to enjoy a piece of cake on your birthday. If you’re feeling like you’ve lost your mojo, there’s a good chance you don’t have enough gas in the tank.

Don’t Go It Alone- Find Your Tribe.

When it comes to holding yourself accountable, it’s important that you don’t try to run a one man show. Find a way to link up with other like minded people to stay on track. This doesn’t have to mean joining a running club or signing up for a yoga class (although if that’s your thing, by all means).

Getting accountable with others can be as simple as joining a Facebook group for people in your area who want to get in shape, or interacting with people at a similar stage of life with similar goals on Instagram. Technology makes it easy for everyone to find people to keep them on top of their game, no matter where you are or what your communication style.

When you know that you have someone expecting a report on your daily progress, you’re much less likely to stay planted on the couch.

Eye on the Prize, Friend.

When you’re working day in and day out to get to a goal, it’s important that you reward yourself for small victories along the way.

A morning at the nail salon, a movie with a friend, or a Sunday afternoon binging on your latest Netflix obsession are all ways to reward yourself for meeting your goal. If a family member is on board with you, working towards a reward- such as a vacation- can be extra exciting.

The reward goals don’t have to just be related to pounds or inches lost. It’s great to reward yourself for behavioral goals, like working out five out of seven days a week, or increasing the weight you’re able to squat.

Celebrating small progress along the way to a larger milestone can go a long way in keeping you focused.

Pro Tip: Keep above rewards to things that aren’t food related.

Get Off the Dang Scale.

The scale is one way to measure progress, but it’s not the only way. If you’ve struggled with weight in the past, it’s likely that your relationship with that evil little piece of metal and plastic on your bathroom floor isn’t a good one.

An image of digital scale with female feet on them and sign "no!" surrounded by christmas decorations and sweets.

For many people, the number on the scale in the morning dictates their mood for the rest of the day. If the number is down from the previous day, motivation is high. If the number is the same (or, if the number has gone up), it can cause feelings of not wanting to bother with the gym or eating well. If you find that the number on the scale determines what type of day you’re going to have, there’s nothing wrong with storing it in the closet or under the sink instead of out in the open.

It’s a good idea to weigh yourself every so often, but there’s no need to do it more than once a week (once a month can even be sufficient if you’re diligent about tracking in other ways). Look at the scale as a progress marker, but make sure you’re also doing measurements, taking pictures, and noticing differences in how your clothes fit.

Get Up, Psych Up.

When you wake up in the morning, what’s the first thing you do? If the answer is reach for your phone and check social media or email, it’s time to change that.

The way you start your morning sets your tone for the rest of the day. Unless you’ve carefully curated who you follow on social media, it’s likely that you’re not met with a barrage of positivity from your feeds. Do something first thing in the morning that makes you feel ready to take on the day.

This could be listening to a motivational podcast, spending a few minutes in prayer or meditation, or even doing a few quiet yoga poses. Set your intention for the day, and visualize your day being a success. Starting your day right will make it easier to stay the course when it comes to working out and eating well.

Dress to Impress… Yourself.

Think back to when you were a little kid. Remember how excited you got to wear your new clothes to school at the beginning of the year? The same applies now, with your new gym clothes. Treat yourself to fresh workout attire every now and then.

You’ll need it as your body begins to change, and you’ll be motivated to show it off. New workout clothes can also be an awesome motivator to drop a size. If you try on a pair of workout pants that you love, but they feel a little bit tight, take them home anyway- you’ll have new motivation to keep working towards your goal.

What Others Say Has Everything to Do With Them, and Nothing to Do With You.

One of the toughest challenges when it comes to staying on track with working out is negative comments from friends, family, and coworkers. As you begin to change the shape of your body, it’s likely that you’ll hear snide comments from others about how often you work out, or how well you eat.

Remember- any negative comments about you working to get healthy say a lot about the person making the comment. The best thing you can do with people like this? Invite them to work out with you. If you can’t bring yourself to be that kind (no judgement), pretending you can’t hear them tends to work well too.

Workout. Do It. Now.

If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you’re sitting around, playing on your phone, googling “motivation to work out.” You’ve talked yourself out of getting it done more than once already today. The jig is up. It’s time, friend. Do the next right thing, whether that means putting on your workout clothes, or finding your airpods, or getting in the car and driving to the gym. Don’t wait. You have the opportunity to change your life right now- get started, get sweaty, and give it your all.

It's normal that your motivation has faded over time, and it doesn't mean that you've failed or that you aren't committed. It simply means that you need to find a new way to stay on track. Not sure where to start? Choose one of the tips and apply it tomorrow, then choose another one and apply it the next day. Getting your mojo back when it comes to working out can feel overwhelming, but all that matters is that you take action.

Remember, your goal isn’t to feel crazy motivated every day - it’s simply to make working out a habit that comes as naturally as brushing your teeth. You can do this!

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