31 Ways to Motivate Yourself to Exercise
“80 percent of success is showing up.” – Woody Allen
Post written by Leo Babauta. Follow me on Twitter.How do you find motivation to exercise when you just don’t feel like getting off your butt? I ask myself this question every now and then, and I have the feeling I’m not the only one.
A few weeks ago, I wrote 4 Simple Steps to Start the Exercise Habit … and the fourth and final step was to add motivation as needed until the habit sticks. This post is to help you with that fourth step.
There are a million ways to motivate yourself to exercise, actually, but these are a few that have worked for me. And trust me, I’ve had days when I’ve struggled with exercise. Most recently, the things that have helped include finding a workout partner (one of the best motivators!), logging my exercise, reading magazines, books and websites, and rewarding myself.
- How you feel after a workout. I always feel great after a good workout. It’s a high. And I let that motivate me the next time: “You know how good you’re going to feel, Leo!”
- Time for you. While many people make time to take care of others (kids, spouse, other family, co-workers, boss), they don’t often make time to take care of themselves. Instead, make your “you” time a priority, and don’t miss that exercise appointment.
- Calories burned. If you count calories (and it’s really one of the most effective ways to lose weight), you know that the more you exercise, the more calories you burn — and the bigger your calorie deficit.
- Having fun. Exercise should be fun. If it isn’t, try a different kind of activity that you enjoy. As long as you’re moving, it’s good for you.
- How you’re going to look. Imagine a slimmer, fitter you. Now let that visualization drive you.
- Magazines. It motivates me to read fitness magazines. Not sure why, but it works.
- Cover models. Sure, they’re genetically freaky, and probably Photoshopped to look perfect. But for some reason, looking at how good a cover model looks helps motivate me to work harder.
- Blogs. I enjoy reading blogs about people who are into running, or losing weight. It can show the ups and downs they go through, and you can learn from their experiences.
- Success stories. I find the success stories of others incredibly inspirational. If a fitness website has success stories, I’ll almost always read them.
- Forums. Do the monthly challenge on the Zen Habits forums, or join another forum full of like-minded or like-goaled peopled. Check in daily. It really helps.
- Rewards. If you exercise for a few days, give yourself a reward! A week? Another reward. Do it often in the beginning.
- Fitting into new clothes. Wanna look good in a smaller size? Work out!
- Being attractive. That’s always a good motivator, as I’m sure we all know. Edited to correct language.
- Adrenaline rush. I get a rush when I exercise. Ride that rush to complete the workout.
- Stress relief. Wound up after a long day at the office? Get out and work off that stress. It makes a world of difference.
- Time for contemplation. I love, love the quiet time of exercise for thinking about things. Most of this post was written in my head as I exercised.
- A workout partner. Best thing I’ve done.
- An exercise class. Sign up for a class, perhaps with a friend, and you’ll be motivated to get there and work out.
- A coach or trainer. Worth the money, just for the motivation.
- An exercise log/graph. For some reason, writing it down is extremely important. Really. Do it for a week and you’ll see what I mean.
- Your before picture. You often don’t realize how far you’ve come. Take pictures.
- A 5K race or triathlon. Just sign up for one, and you’ll be motivated to train.
- The dread of feeling “yuck” from not exercising. I hate how I feel after not exercising. So I remind myself of that when I feel tired.
- Living long enough to see your grandkids … and play with them.
- The scale. It’s not motivating to weigh yourself every day, as your weight fluctuates. But if you weigh yourself once a week, you’ll be motivated to have it keep going down, instead of up. Combine the scale with the measuring tape, and measure your waist.
- Reaching a goal. Set a goal for weight, or your waist measurement, or a number of days to work out, or a number of miles to run this week. Setting and tracking a goal helps motivate you to complete that goal. Make it easily achievable.
- Posting it on your blog. Tell people you’re going to lose weight or exercise daily, and report to them. You’ll make it happen.
- Motivational quotes. I like to print them out or put them on my computer desktop.
- Books. I just bought a strength-training book as a reward. It makes me want to hit the weights!
- Others commenting on how good you look. When someone notices the changes in your body, it feels good. And it makes you want to work out more.
- An upcoming day at the beach, or a reunion. Nuff said.