February 5, 2013

5 Simple Ways I Stay Motivated To Exercise Regularly

Staying motivated and determined to accomplish a long term goal is always difficult. Many start with good intentions and many work so hard to create new habits. However, so many fail! Why is that? Honestly, I really don't know why we struggle to keep to our goals. Maybe it's out of boredom, lack of progress or just the fact that it doesn't come naturally. I know that with me, life usually sidetracks me from my goals. However, I have learned certain techniques that have helped me throughout the years to stay motivated enough to workout consistently. 

Here are my top five:

1. I have a specific goal!

Whenever I start a workout regimen, I start with a specific goal and I write it down (or type it on this blog). My goals are never open ended like, “I want to lose 40lbs.” Instead I commit with a date, like this, “I want to lose 40lbs. by the end of 2012.” (That was last year’s goal.)

Having a specific goal allows me to have a system where I can check my progress against. If my results are falling short of the linear timeline that I've set then I know that I have to step it up. The same applies to exercise. I set specific goals for my regimen too. For example, my goal for this month was to complete a 4-day split routine. You can see this on my workout calendar that I set up here. Having a specific goal does not allow any room to slack off and it can keep you motivated to achieve a certain task by a certain time.

2. I schedule my workouts as part of my day.

In my experience as a busy full-time accountant, mom and wife if I don’t schedule my workouts, they do not happen. I not only schedule the time within the day, but I also schedule my workouts around my family’s calendar. For instance, if my stepson has tutoring (which runs sometimes to 8:30pm) then I either schedule that day as an off day or I make sure that the workout for that day is a smaller muscle group such as shoulders and/or biceps which usually means a shorter time working out. Sometimes, it works out, other times I just have to bite the bullet and workout until almost 10pm. I hate those days, but sometimes if you want something bad enough, you just have to buck up and do it.

3. I read fitness articles.

Sitting at a desk all day can be exhausting. Sometimes I think it’s harder than working on your feet. If you apply the law of physics to sitting at a desk than you can start to understand why being at a desk all day long could completely sabotage your motivation to workout. It sound counter intuitive, but a body in motion stays in motion and a body at rest stays at rest.

To counteract my sedentary job, I often motivate myself by reading fitness articles, fitness books, and looking at fitness model pictures. Just reading about my passion of fitness motivates me to want to be a part of that community. It helps me look forward to my evening runs and helps me stay focused on where I want to see myself eventually.

Believe me, it takes a lot of determination to lace up my running shoes at 8pm at night and get on my treadmill or strength train. However, on the days that I read anything about fitness it tends to put me into the right mindset.

4. I count calories.

Now I know that not everyone out there counts calories. Some people are lucky enough to just “eat healthy” and it works for them in regards to weight loss. However, for me, it’s a numbers game and a way of keeping balance in my life. Weight loss aside, I have found that counting calories motivates me to workout. I know it sounds weird, but it’s true. Having the knowledge of just how much fuel I've put into my body and where I stand for the day in relation to my calories in vs. calories out has always meant the difference between working out or not. On days where I stuff my face (it happens) I know that the only way to keep the balance or at least get closer to a more balanced day is to workout. Now this doesn't mean that I exercise to eat. I know some fitness people that do that because they love to eat. I like food and all, but I’m by no means a foodie and I do not exercise to eat. My weight issues stem from my emotional state not for my love of food. For heaven sake, I can eat the same breakfast for months and not get bored. I am so not a foodie.

Basically, counting calories is sort of how I keep a budget of what I put into my body. Exercise is my ATM and when I need more calories to “afford” what I've eaten for the day, I work out! It’s really that simple.

5. I tell everyone that I’m going to work out!

Talking and sharing what I call “My Fitness” with other people has always provided me with the motivation to keep up on my workout regimen. If you were ever to start a conversation about fitness with me, you would soon see my face change and light up. Fitness and nutrition are MY THING. Everyone has something that they are passionate about. For me it’s this! By talking about my goals it sort of solidifies what I want to accomplish. Not that I care about what other people think, but for me, it feels awful when I talk about accomplishing something and then I don’t do it. If you look around, there are plenty of people that are all talk and accomplish not a single thing they say they are going to accomplish. I’d hate to be one of them. 

Therefore, when I tell someone, “I’m running tonight,” it means that I will be running that night and I am 100% more likely to actually do it!


What keeps you motivated? 

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