It’s your first time at the gym. You’re excited to work out and get into shape. And you know that everything will be different this time. This time you’ll really do it.
But you wake up the next morning and can hardly lift your legs out of bed. Where the hell did this soreness come from? The next day, you’re sore, tired, and would rather just stay in bed.
The justifications for staying in bed scroll through your mind. You hit snooze, and you’re already off your plan.
Because starting a regime is easy, sticking with a routine is hard.
As time goes on, it is easy to think “well, if I just skip today, that wouldn’t hurt me.” Which turns into “well, I didn’t go yesterday, and that was fine.” Finally, you say “well, it’s been a year since I worked out, should I finally cancel my membership?”
Here are 5 tricks you can use to stay motivated when your body wants you to stop.
Set Short-Term Goals
Long term fitness goals keep you coming to the gym once every six months. Things like hitting a target weight, or fitting in to your old clothes.
The problem? They’re vague.
It’s hard to stay motivated when you aren’t seeing progress.
You need a reason to go to the gym more frequently. Once a week, three times a week, whatever fits your plan.
So set short-term goals. Few things you can easily check off a list.
Here are a few:
- This week you’ll complete a single-set circuit of at least one fitness equipment per major muscle group.
- You’ll stay on the treadmill for at least 20 minutes, at whatever speed, before you hit the weights. Or if you are inclined to cardio, lift for 20 minutes with weights you’re comfortable with for the same duration.
- Make it a point to get in at least 10000 steps few days a week. This is the number of steps recommended by the American Heart Association.
Set short-term goals for yourself. A goal that is easily checked off a list like starting your day off with a protein shake and a bagel instead of your favorite fast food breakfast. Whatever goals you set, so long as they are realistic, they give you something to strive toward and make it easier to measure your progress.
Work out with a Friend
Want to be more regular to the gym? Get someone with the same goals as you do.
One of the best ways to be sure you show up to something is to have someone who will pull you up when you can’t yourself. When you have a regular workout partner, they will notice if you don’t show up one day and reach out. That can provide you the extra motivation you need to actually get yourself out of bed and to the gym, even on a day when you really don’t want to.
On top of that, having someone else working out alongside you will help you push harder in your workouts. You’ll also enjoy the experience more since you have someone else there with you. These combine to make it easier to find the motivation to work out.
It definitely helps the day two problem, since when you miss the first time, your friend is going to make sure you commit to being there the next day. You wouldn’t want to repeatedly disappoint them.
Get Ready for the Gym
If you really just don’t want to workout one morning, do this – get up and put your gym clothes on anyway.
You don’t have to go, just put the clothes on. Then you can go back to bed. Of course, once you have the clothes on, it would be silly to not at least drive to the gym. You don’t have to go in, just go see it. And so on.
Psychologically, you will quickly build a habit that when you put your gym clothes on, you’re going to work out. Take advantage of that when you really just don’t want to go.
Starting to get ready will change your attitude enough to make it easier to take the actual step of getting to the gym and working out. After all, your mind will already be preparing you, gathering the energy it needs and sending blood to the proper muscles.
Remember Your Motivations
In the daily slog, it’s easy to forget why you decided that you wanted to work out in the first place.
Make it easier on yourself. Put a reminder somewhere near your bed, so that you’ll see it when you wake up. Maybe it’s an old pair of jeans you used to fit into but can’t anymore. Or a picture of you kayaking or mountain climbing, which you need to be in better shape to do.
It could even be as simple as your goal mile time written down on a sheet of paper, where you’ll have to move it before you can turn off your alarm in the morning.
Whatever you use, look at it first thing when you wake up. When you’re deciding whether or not you have the energy to go to the gym, make sure that you’re not comparing the enjoyment of staying in bed to the effort of working out. Instead, compare staying in bed to how happy you will be when you reach your goal, whatever that may be. This will make it far easier to find the motivation to keep going since it reminds you of the end result.
Come Up with a Reward
If all else fails, figure out a reward system that you can use to give yourself the extra push. Sometimes, we need a nearer, more concrete reward.
Make sure it’s something that you can do easily, so that you won’t end up skipping it, but that it’s also something that you actually want to do.
For example, you could decide that you’re only going to watch Netflix on days that you’ve worked out. Obviously, you don’t want to do anything that would counteract the effects of your workout, like binging on fast food but pick something you enjoy that will give you motivation to actually work out.
Over time, you’ll begin to associate the reward with the workout itself, and the workout will be a more positive experience.
Remember that it takes an average of twenty-one days to make or break a habit.
Beginning any new fitness routine is difficult, and finding ways to keep yourself motivated will help you see real progress in the end.
Stay strong. You can make it!