How to stay motivated to workout

There are MANY lists on the internet for ways to stay motivated to exercise on a consistent basis.  There are some that I have found helpful and some that I have discovered on my own.  It is not easy to be consistent with any workout plan.  It is even harder to make it seamlessly fit into your busy schedule.  There is a huge effort to start and an even bigger effort to continue with exercising.  I am not always excited to workout.  I am not a person who wakes up and immediately puts on my yoga pants and is ready to do jumping jacks or run 5 miles.  It is something that I have to plan.  I literally write down a class time to attend or a time to stop my day and do a home workout.  There are days that I force myself to start.  At that point I have to remind myself of my goals and why I choose to continue.

Just a quick thing I want to point out, please do not compare your fitness journey to others.  You will see folks in class or read success stories online and try and figure out why you are not further along or why it is so difficult.  Then frustration sets in and you stop before you even had a chance to start.  Everyone’s body is going to respond a little different and your own pace is nothing to criticize.  Be kind to yourself.  Especially when you are trying something brand new, it is not fair to expect yourself to be the best at it.  Everything takes time but it will be worth it if you stay motivated and stick with it.

Here is my list of things that help me.  I am also listing ones that seemed like a way to stay motivated but only worked in the short-term.  If you struggle with staying consistent, take a moment and figure out why you wanted to workout in the first place.  Then be honest with yourself and write down what really motivates you to continue.  They might be two very different lists.

How I stay motivated to workout

  • I actually like some parts of the workout = I find that punching and kicking the bag is a fun thing for me to do.  However, the 15 minute warm-up of burpees, squats, push-ups and ab work I would LOVE to skip!  I just get through the warm-up with the best effort I can and do not place any negative judgement if I need to slow down.  Then I get to the fun part of working on my kickboxing skills.  Even with other workouts like yoga, jogging and weight-lifting, there are areas that I really do enjoy.  Getting some fresh air, listening to music, etc.  I see myself improving and love to witness my own progress.
  • How I feel directly after exercise = Pure pride.  When I am walking back to my car after kickboxing, I am super proud of myself.  I know it would have been much easier to just stay at home and skip class.  I have this feeling as well when I stop and take a moment during my day to jog, do some yoga or lift some weights at home.  I write down my activity in my paper planner and so happy that I took that time to improve myself.
  • Long-term benefits that I am building = There are so many benefits that are growing besides the obvious health advantages and increased strength and endurance.
    • Endorphins are fantastic!  I am just in a happier mood after working out.  (
    • I have seen an increase in my daily energy level.
    • I sleep more sound at night.  On days when I am not as active, I have such a difficult time falling asleep like I have extra energy that I did not burn off.
    • I make better eating choices since I am not going to waste all of my effort by eating junk.
    • Feels great to have “me time”.
    • Overall helps with daily activities like climbing stairs and carrying grocery bags.
  • Knowledge of how it felt to start over again = There were a few times in my life that I took a break from working out and it was rough to start over again.  Depending on how long of a break taken, it could take about a month to get into the rhythm again and have your body recover faster.  I know when I started kickboxing, it was super difficult.  I found myself getting out of breathe during the warm-up and not having enough energy to get through the entire hour (aka I took a lot of water breaks).  At this point I am too afraid to start over again since I know how tough it is.
  • There are other minor things that help out a little
    • Cute and comfy workout outfits = I know this sounds ridiculous but I get excited when there is a cute outfit involved with an activity.  Since the first step to actually getting out the door and moving is getting out of those pajamas!  I find that having something that I am looking forward to wearing is key.  Plus dressing in a way that makes me feel tough (black and gray) does impact my workout.  It is like wearing a power suit in an office.  It just gives you a bit of an attitude that drives you forward.  I have been through a lot of different brands but find that Lucy is my favorite.  I wait for their 30% off sales and just order a bunch and then return what I am not completely crazy over.  I also make sure I have enough items to get me through the entire week of workouts without doing laundry.  This way there is no excuse that I cannot workout since all of my items are in the laundry bin.
    • Fitbit (or any other fitness tracking device) = I have recently purchased the Alta HR from Fitbit and I find that having a constant reminder on my wrist that I need to move more and make fitness a priority in my life is very helpful.  I like the heart rate only as a way to see patterns of what number I reach when I am in desperate need of a break.

Motivation methods that I found only work in the short-term

  • Reward system = If I do a workout, then I will take a moment to watch a TV show.  If I stay consistent for two weeks, then I will book a massage.  These all seem like great rewards and they did work in the short-term for me.  However, if you are sore and tired, you just sit and watch TV without working out in the first place.
  • Signing contract and making monthly gym payments = At first this works since you see a monthly payment and try to get in as many classes as possible to make it worth the money.  But if you are really not into what you are doing and do not enjoy any aspect of the trainers, people you meet, parts of the workout or way you feel afterwards…then it is too easy to just cancel that payment.
  • Scale = At first you might see some weight loss since you are starting something new and your body is responding.  However, the more muscle you gain, the more you will not see that scale move, even though you are making huge strides.  Also, any weight loss via a healthy way of eating and exercise that is sustainable is very gradual.  Slow and steady really does win the race.
  • Buddy system = Depending on another person to go to class with you might seem like an amazing idea.  However, if their life throws them a curve ball and they need to skip a few, you do not want to be so tied to them showing up that you skip too.  Enjoy your time with your buddy when they attend with you but know that your fitness journey is unique and your own to control.

Have a great day and hope you get in some workout, even if it is a short walk around the block.  Take care!