You know exercise is beneficial and that you should do it, but with all the pressures of daily life—work, school, a long commute in the Bay Area or family and friends—there is little time left at the end of each day for self-care. Often, people don’t want to use their precious time in a stuffy, crowded gym counting down the minutes until they can go home and “relax.”
Unfortunately, just hearing the facts about why you should exercise is not enough to motivate most individuals. To make matters worse, 50 percent of people starting an exercise program will drop out within the first six months.
Low motivation usually results from a combination of personal and situational factors. So, how do you push these two annoying factors aside and focus on getting inspired, even if it’s only for 20 minutes a day? Well, you’ll need to unlock your inner ambition by following the tips and tricks I’ve listed below.
Set realistic goals: Having realistic fitness goals can make the difference between a successful fitness plan and one which ends in frustration and disappointment. Don’t make your routine too hard by exercising too intensely. You'll feel it's too difficult for you and want to quit.
Make a plan: When implementing an exercise plan, try to think of it as a permanent habit rather than a temporary fix. Give ample thought to how your new routine will fit into your lifestyle and how you will deal with challenges that might hinder your chance to workout, such as inclement weather, your kids being sick, needing to work late, etc.
Schedule your workouts:
Those that succeed with adhering to an exercise plan, often put their workouts on their calendar and treat them like business meetings. By having your workouts on your schedule for the week, you will be thinking and mentally preparing for them. This also helps make exercise a priority and you will be less likely to let it fall by the wayside.
Exercise in the morning: Ideally, try to workout in the morning. I cannot stress how great it feels to have your workout done first thing in the morning. Sure, it’s hard waking up at 4 a.m., but well worth the sacrifice. If you are absolutely not able to exercise in the morning, exercise at the same time each day to form a habit.
Keep an exercise journal: Keeping an exercise log or journal can help you stay on track with your fitness goals. Knowing that you will be held accountable will get you off the couch on those days when motivation wanes.
Weigh yourself twice a week: Whatever you do, don't weigh yourself every day! This will lead to disappointment as it's impossible to lose weight every single day. Weigh yourself twice a week to get a true picture of where your progress is headed.
Reward yourself weekly: Maybe it’s treating yourself to dinner, a massage or new gym clothes, but let’s face it. Rewarding yourself for working out can help you stay motivated. While you certainly can reward yourself without adhering to a workout program, the rewards are so much better deserved after a good, hard workout.
Figure out what makes you tick: Participate in an activity that you truly enjoy (most days of the week). Sure there are those days when you will only have time for a quick 20-minutes on the stair-climber. But try to focus on fitting fun sports into your weekly routine as well.
The Cupertino Parks and Recreation and other local parks and rec departments can all help you find a fun, rewarding activity to get involved in. Specifically for adults, these locations offer zumba, tai chi, dodgeball, softball, volleyball, aerobics, line dancing, martial arts, tennis lessons, water workouts and yoga—just to name a few. Get out of your comfort zone and try something new.
Recruit a friend: There’s power in numbers, so call a friend and see if he or she would like to join you in your quest to start (and stick with) an exercise routine. When you are feeling the temptation to skip out on your workout, give your friend a ring to get the encouragement you need to keep you on the right track.
Day off coupon: Give yourself permission to skip one scheduled workout every month—guilt free. If you stick to your exercise routine the whole month, you deserve an extra day off.
By following these tried-and-true strategies, you are more likely to become an exercise adherent versus an exercise dropout.