The only workout I’ve ever regretted is one I didn’t do. Still, sometimes I need to deliberately motivate myself to get started. Here are some techniques that do the job:

1.    Tell yourself: ‘I must do it – it’s my job’

What? Let me explain… As a fitness instructor, I sometimes had to lead a group exercise class when I just plain didn’t feel like it. Still, it was my job and I would always teach my scheduled class unless I was very unwell (a little bit unwell just didn’t cut it as an excuse).  This taught me to ‘just do it’.  If an exercise session is in my diary, I don’t indulge in the ‘will I / won’t I’ debate. I know I can complete the session even if I’m not sure I really feel like it. I also know I will feel great for having done so (see point below). So, imagine YOU are the instructor and you simply must be there. It’s not negotiable. Trust me, the instructor does not always feel like being there no matter how hard they smile – but they ARE there. They turn up. They do it. And you can too.

2.    Remember how you feel after your workout

You are going to feel great! Endorphins will be flowing and you will be so chuffed with yourself for getting it done. Endorphins plus feelings of personal pride – does it get any better than that?

3.    Embrace your workout as healthy time just for you!

Exercise is an investment in your health. There are so many benefits:

  • It’s easier to manage your weight
  • You’re stronger, fitter, and more confident – which helps you achieve what you want in life
  • It improves your mood and allows you to manage stress better
  • You’re more able to do cool things like playing sport, going bushwalking etc
  • It gives you more energy
  • You’re more flexible and you’ll keep your mobility as you age
  • It helps you enjoy your body for what it can do, not just what it looks like
  • You feel better about yourself
  • You sleep better
  • You manage anger better
  • You reduce your risk for several diseases including heart disease, adult-onset diabetes, high blood pressure or hypertension, breast cancer, osteoporosis and colon cancer.

And you want all of that, don’t you?

4.  Enjoy burning calories and boosting your metabolism

All exercise burns calories

All exercise burns calories

You will burn calories in the form of both fat and carbohydrates. The ratio of fat to carbohydrate burned will depend on the type of exercise you choose – but don’t get bogged down with the details now. Know you are burning calories – and of course the more exercise you do, the more calories you burn and the bigger the calorie deficit. This is fundamental if shedding weight is your goal.
(Read more about exercising for fat loss.)

5.    Read success stories / Look at ‘before and after’ photos

If these don’t motivate you to exercise, nothing will! I particularly enjoy reading success stories of people who have overcome illness or disability to achieve their new strong fit healthy body and ideal weight. Hugely inspirational!

6.    Imagine how you are going to look and feel

Imagine how great you are going to look and feel as a slimmer, fitter you! Your clothes will fit better too! Every exercise session counts towards that goal. Close your eyes and take a few minutes to see, hear and feel what it will be like when you achieve your ideal body size. Now use this visualisation to motivate yourself to get moving.

7.    Insist on having fun

Make sure something about your chosen exercise is fun. Heck, make it all fun if you can! Mix up your training so you try different activities and find a few things you enjoy. Remember, as long as you are moving, it’s good for you.

Sometimes the ‘fun’ element is relative. For example, when doing intense intervals, the most fun part for me is enjoying the well-deserved recovery periods! As I pant away, I like to visualize my body burning excess calories at an incredible rate. (I have a brilliant special effects department in my mind!)

8.    Read blogs, fitness articles, books and forums

Reading the thoughts and adventures of others who value their health can also provide motivation.  You’ll find new ideas and inspiration from others who are walking the talk.

9.    Give yourself rewards

Reward yourself for, say, completing a week’s worth of planned workouts. Consider buying a new item of exercise clothing or an exercise mat or having a pedicure?

10.    Know you are creating natural stress relief

Regular exercise not only strengthens physical health; it can help you handle stress by:

  • Releasing endorphins, adrenaline, serotonin and dopamine – the chemicals that give you a sense of well-being
  • Relaxing tense muscles
  • Distracting you from your worries

Another list of benefits you deserve!

11.    Read motivational quotes for a quick attitude fix

Find your favourite motivational quotes and post them where you can see them – on your computer, in your wallet, in your workout bag!

12.    Sign up for an event

Find a fun run or half marathon, something that is a stretch for current fitness level – and sign up.  Training for a specific event allows you to increase your fitness for the event workout by workout. You’ll also know that missing a workout will affect your end – and public – result.

13.    Discover if you prefer solo exercise, group exercise or a combination

Exercising alone can be great thinking time...

Exercising alone can be great thinking time…

Take some time to think about whether you like to exercise alone or with a group. Maybe you like both! Then make sure that’s what you plan each week.  Group exercise classes can be heaps if fun and very motivating for some – invite a friend or simply meet people there. Sometimes it’s nice just to be alone and enjoy your own thoughts while you work up a sweat.

14.     Get yourself a workout partner, coach or personal trainer

This can make a world of difference to exercise adherence – but make sure the other person is committed and reliable. And then make sure you are too! Of course you are paying your coach or trainer, so expect that to provide motivation as well.

15.    Anticipate the negative feelings of not exercising

If I don’t exercise for more than two consecutive days, I feel blah – physically and mentally. Remembering this keeps me active on most days.

Also, the only workout I’ve ever regretted is one I didn’t do.

16.    Record your progress

Want to get something done? Write it down. This includes getting into the habit of scheduling your exercise sessions and logging their completion. Also keep a record of your waist measurement or weight (whatever metric you are using to measure your goal). Taking pictures is another way to record your progress. Your ‘before’ photo will remind you how far you’ve come.

17.    Reach a milestone

They say getting results is the best motivator, so make sure you set and celebrate the achievement of a continuous string of exercise-related goals. Set a goal for your waist measurement, or a number of days of exercise, or a number of kilometers to run this week. You get the idea. Track this goal to completion. Make each goal is achievable within a relatively short-term timeframe to keep motivation high.

18.    Declare your goal publicly

Tell people your goal and then tell them you will be reporting your progress to them. Make sure you tell them how and when you will keep them informed – write a weekly blog, send them email or make an announcement at Sunday dinner! You’ll want to report success.

19.    Remind yourself of the compliments you’ve received

When someone notices the changes in your body or fitness, it feels good. And it makes you want to work out more.

20.    Pretend you are being filmed as an extra for a workout video

This tip is one I use to motivate myself to work harder when I am already exercising but flagging. When I feel I am losing technique during an exercise session or need some extra motivation to up the intensity, I imagine I am being filmed as an extra in a workout video. Tragic, I know, but it works for me!

Alternatively, I imagine I am being watched by, say, Jon Hamm. I’d like to impress Jon with my grace and strength, as well as my focus and determination…


For even more help with motivation to exercise, contact me for a free personal consultation.

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