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How to Stay Motivated to Exercise (Hint: You don’t!)

Motivation. The Holy Grail. When you have it, you know it. Firing on all cylinders you are a machine, checking things off and taking names. When you don’t have it, you feel lazy, overwhelmed by not getting anything done and, at times, depressed and dejected. The truth is, we can’t be motivated all the time. Life just isn’t that way despite what you see on social media. Even fitness influencers lose their mojo once in a while. So, how in the world can you stay motivated to exercise? Well, you don’t. But, there is a way to make sure you stay connected and engaged even when you aren’t necessarily feeling it.

  1. Try to establish a regular routine. If you can exercise at a regular interval, you will have much better success continuing to work out even when you are not motivated. Experts say you build a habit once you’ve done something for 21 days. More simply, if you can stick to a routine for a month (not necessarily a daily one), you typically can stick with it beyond that timeframe. It’s best to choose a day/time that you know you won’t have a conflict. Personal trainers who work in gyms will tell you that the people who show up first thing in the morning are the most consistent gym goers… and it’s easy to see why. There isn’t anything standing in their way (besides the alarm clock). If you can get up, you can work out. There isn’t likely to be anything that would usurp that time. Find that time for you. When are you always free? Start there. Then, when you aren’t motivated, you just go anyway. Just like going to work when you really just want to binge Netflix and eat chips all day.
  2. Track it. Keep track of your exercise and progress. It helps you see how far you’ve come and where you need to go next. I use the back of my planner to write out all my workouts and keep track of the weights I use. Having to mark it down keeps me accountable plus it’s a great way to see improvement and celebrate your success. If you like to bullet journal or are competitive, set goals for yourself and track them, too. For example, if you want to lift weights three days a week, mark that down and check it off. Give yourself a reward when you do it!
  3. Together we stand. Find a partner in crime who either goes to the gym with you or who you can call or FaceTime to hold you accountable for being there. Try to pair up with someone who you will be ashamed to let down. Someone you want to make proud! It helps, believe me! If you can’t find someone, consider posting on social media either in a like-minded group or just to your own followers. Checking in to a location on Facebook is a quick easy way to publicly hold yourself accountable for showing up, even when you don’t want to. Your followers just may call you out when they don’t see that check in pop into their feed and that may be all the motivation you need!

These three tips have been key to my success over the years. At this point, when I don’t exercise first thing, the whole day just feels “off” somehow. And you don’t have to wait until a major milestone to start doing any of this. Start tomorrow, next Monday, next month, or next year. Just start. And if you keep going, no matter what. You will stay the course, motivated or not. You got this!


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