Getting started is the hardest part. We get so caught up in our head thinking about how much preparation, work, time and effort has to go into a fitness routine that we make it a bigger hurdle than it actually is. It’s only 20-60 minutes of your day, and it doesn’t even need to be every day. It’s time to break those mental barriers and get our sweat on, right?
1. Put your workout clothes on
Don’t think about it, just get dressed. You’re not going to just plop yourself on the couch after having put your training clothes on. Find something that fits you and makes you feel good when you wear it. Bright colors or all black, whatever you prefer.
2. Surround yourself with motivation
You need to hang around with people that make you feel capable of reaching your goals. You also need to write down your goals and motivational quotes in places you will see them. You cannot be motivated all the time, but you can consistently cultivate a motivating environment for yourself (quotes and people) so that you know you can, even when you don’t necessarily feel like it.
3. Don’t motivate yourself by thinking about your muffin top or flabby abs
Both men and women often motivate themselves to exercise by thinking about their appearance. But it turns out this approach backfires. Exercise frequency is most strongly related to 3 things: appreciation of your body, a focus on how it feels, and satisfaction with what it can do. But get this: motivation based on appearance weakened all 3 of those things, even in people who exercised the most. So consider changing your focus to something other than your thighs or tummy.
4. Customize your workout in little ways.
The power of small choices was demonstrated in a brand new 2014 study where participants who chose the sequence of their exercises did more sets and reps than those who were given a predetermined sequence. So don’t just slavishly follow the order on your lifting log or go down the line of weight machines. Think about what you want to do and you may find yourself doing it more.
5. Stop eating junk food
When you eat unhealthy, processed and high-sugar foods, it doesn’t make your body feel energized. These foods make you feel tired, lazy, unmotivated and grumpy – no mojo! Plus, your workouts are not going to help you reach your goals if you’re not staying on top of your nutrition, too. Start by whipping up this insanely delicious peanut butter post-workout smoothie after you’ve completed your workout. It’s so yummy that it tastes like a treat.
6. Write down how you feel after all your workouts
Keep a little journal and write down how you feel after your workouts. That way you can go back and take a look at those awesome feelings when you’re just not feeling in the mood. Generally, we want to skip our workout because we’re tired, busy, low-energy and have too many things to do. But when you’re done working out – hello endorphins! You’ll probably write things down like: I feel great, I am so happy I finished that workout, I have so much energy, I feel so strong!
7. Stop thinking of yourself as lazy
Think of yourself as someone who exercises, or someone who is healthy, or whatever exercise-friendly identity you’d like to adopt. The human psyche goes to great lengths, sometimes unconsciously, to be consistent with one’s identity. So thinking of yourself as a harried, stressed-out person creates a self-fulfilling prophecy with little room for exercise. But thinking of yourself as a really busy healthy person might create just the tweak your mindset needs.
8. Sign a commitment contract
We can make promises to ourselves all day long, but research shows we are much more likely to exercise and eat healthy when we make commitments to our family and friends. For example, create a contract with your loved ones that states you will cook at least 3 healthy dinners per week. Or, you will exercise at least 3 times a week for 30 minutes each time. You can even up the ante by paying your family or friends $1 for each time you break the contract. For each time you stay committed to your exercise/health contract, put that $1 in a jar and either use it for your rewards, or donate it to your favorite charity.
9. Always bring your workouts back to WHY.
During the first few weeks of working with my clients, we complete an activity together called the WHY game. Let’a quickly play a round right now!
Ask yourself, “Why do I want to exercise and eat healthy?” Are you trying to lose weight? Are you hoping to stay active so that you can play with your children? Are you hoping to run a half or full marathon later this year? Once you have your answer, ask yourself WHY four more times. For example, why do you want to lose weight? Why is it important to you to play with your kids? Or, why do you want to run a full or half marathon?
Each answer should get a little deeper towards your inner drive and motivation. Once you have your last answer (your fifth answer to the question why), THAT is your motivation to workout and eat healthy. This deep, intrinsic driving factor will keep you motivated when everything else fails.
10. Make it fun
Find sports or activities that you enjoy, then vary the routine to keep you on your toes. If you’re not enjoying your workouts, try something different. Join a volleyball or softball league. Take a ballroom dancing class. Check out a health club, yoga class or martial arts center. Discover your hidden athletic talent.
Remember, exercise doesn’t have to be boring, and you’re more likely to stick with a fitness program if you’re having fun.