When it comes to exercise, the hardest part isn’t your 30-second plank or running your first mile—it’s actually starting.
Because even though we all want to lose our muffin tops and take better Instagram selfies, we don’t all have the motivation to make these goals a reality RN.
So how do you get over your hatred for exercise and become one of those fit people who make their daily burn seem just as easy as brushing their teeth?
All you have to do is learn how to find the right motivation.
Lucky for your love handles, today we’re sharing our 8 favorite ways to find motivation to hit the gym every single day.
Incorporate a few of these tips and you may even start looking forward to your workouts.
8 Ways to Find the Motivation You Need to Exercise
Motivation is the driving force pushing you to conquer your goals. So it probably makes a lot of sense to actually create that goal first.
1. Set SMART Goals for Why You’re Working Out
Everyone knows the benefits of working out span far beyond looking dope for your Tinder dates.
Whatever your reasons for getting in shape, defining them will give you the motivation to reach the finish line. The stronger your goal, the harder you’ll push to make it happen.
Create a SMART goal for your fitness regime that’s:
Setting an overall goal for your fitness regime will create a roadmap for you to follow, but you should also set smaller mini goals to make the long road more manageable.
Your main goal may be to lose 20 pounds by your best friend’s wedding, but your weekly goal may be to lose one pound, do 50 squats, or never let a cookie sneak past your lips.
Every time you accomplish one of these mini goals, you’ll be more motivated to set a new (bigger or harder) goal to tackle and conquer next.
2. Solve Excuses Before They Rear their Ugly Head
There’s never a good reason to skip your workouts (although you have a little wiggle room when it comes to exercising when you have a cold, flu, or migraine).
Most people don’t lack the desire to hit the gym, they just let life get in the way of their plans.
So once you identify the problems typically holding you back, you can prepare for these excuses before they sabotage your workout plans.
First, learn the best time of day to work out according to your body’s natural circadian rhythm.
When you’ve identified your tendencies, prepare yourself accordingly the night before your workout by:
3. Track and Post Your Progress
Start exercising and you’ll stumble upon scale victories (like losing two pounds in one week) and non scale victories (finding a bathing suit you don’t totally hate).
While SVs are amazing and all, if you’re only using the scale as a guide to monitor your progress, you may get discouraged when you don’t see the fruits of all your physical labor. Hit a plateau or (gasp!) gain weight and say adios to your motivation.
That’s why it’s important to measure and track other stats such as your body fat percentage, the size of your waist, buns, thighs, and arms, how far/fast you can run or walk, etc. as well.
These physical indicators will show you how your body’s changing when the scale doesn’t budge. These will keep you dedicated when you think working out isn’t working for you.
Posting these victories to your social media feeds will not only give you the support and encouragement from those closest to you, all those likes will do wonders for your motivation to stay on track and slay.
Update your feed with a pic of your progress, or a screenshot of a long hike or bike ride you’re proud of. Your #fitspiration may inspire others you know to get healthy too.
4. Stop Doing Workouts You Hate
Working out is supposed to be physically demanding on your body, but it doesn’t have to be frustrating, boring, unpleasant, or any other crummy feeling keeping you from the gym.
When you’re not feeling your stale routine or your class instructor, you’re not going to be pumped to exercise. So switch it up and get out of your comfort zone.
Try a machine you’ve never been on; a class you’ve always wanted to take; diving into the pool to exercise in water when summer’s around.
Exercise disguised as fun makes it feel less like a chore and more like a physical hobby you enjoy. With so many workout videos online and different classes at the gym, you’re sure to find one to stir up some excitement.
5. Find a Workout Bestie for Accountability
Nothing compares to working out with a friend—especially if you don’t get to catch up and chat until you’re spotting each other at the gym.
Besides holding each other accountable, you can also share your struggles, encourage each other, and engage in a bit of healthy competition when you work out together.
Look for a virtual accountability buddy if your friends are too easy on you.
Online communities such as Pact will reward you in cash when you achieve a fitness goal, but fail to show up for one of your scheduled workouts and the app will charge your credit card or PayPal account.
How’s that for motivation?
6. Go For Intensity, Cut Back on Time
"Most people think they need to exercise for 30 to 60 minutes, which can seem daunting, but you can actually get a better workout in just 20 minutes," Wayne Westcott, PhD, exercise science instructor at Quincy College in Massachusetts, tells Fitness magazine.
The secret best type of exercise for weight loss?
By alternating short bursts of high-intensity activity with spurts of moderate-intensity, you’ll burn just as many calories as a traditional stable-intensity workout (if not more) in half the time.
So instead of telling yourself you need to pony up for an hour long workout, just commit to 20 minutes of HIIT. You may leave after this time or you may zone out and push for another 10 minutes depending on how you feel.
Bank a couple of these self-driven workouts and wanting to exercise will come from natural motivation instead of feeling so forced.
7. Convince Yourself You’re Multitasking
Think you have more important things to do than hop on the treadmill?
No one is too busy to exercise, but since we’re all used to juggling three different tasks at one time, maybe the ability to multitask will finally get you to the gym.
Read your emails or prepare for your workday by propping your mobile device on the dash of a stationary bike, treadmill, or other machine.
Listen to a podcast from one of your favorite gurus while you run, or an audiobook for one of the best diet/health and fitness books.
These activities will stimulate your brain and make you feel as though you’re accomplishing more for yourself during your exercise time than simply toning your glutes.
8. Treat Yo’ Self!
No, you’re not entitled to an ice cream sundae because you went to the gym once this week, but positive rewards make it easier to stick it out when you’re thinking of bailing.
Choose healthy rewards when you crush your week’s fitness goal, such as:
“An extrinsic reward is so powerful because your brain can latch onto it and make the link that the behavior is worthwhile,” Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit, explains to the Daily Burn. “It increases the odds the routine becomes a habit.”
Now Get Your Butt in Gear
Motivation is just the beginning. When you establish a healthy exercise habit, you won’t even think about skipping your workout—you’ll just get ready, drive to the gym, and start your activity as if you’re on autopilot.
So begin by setting small, realistic goals you can achieve in a limited timeframe. Knocking these out will give you the confidence to tackle harder challenges the next month.
Every bodybuilder, yogi master, and HIIT instructor had to begin at some point. Now you just need to take the first step yourself. Remember, you’ll always feel guilty for leaving a gym session out, but you’ll never regret squeezing one in.