8 ways to motivate yourself to work out
by Monique Farrugia
Didn't most of us promise ourselves to be healthier and fitter this year? Yep! Your aim may have been to do just that, but the problem is actually getting yourself to work out. Don't worry, you're not alone. Staying motivated is no easy task and that is why most of us start a workout plan and then stop when the motivation starts running low. So, I've come up with 8 easy ways to keep you on track with your fitness goals.
1. Set a realistic goal
Don't be too hard nor too easy on yourself. Your goal should be difficult enough to keep you motivated, but not too difficult to discourage you. The problem with setting these goals is that very often this occurs as a New Year's resolution once people get too caught up in the rush and as a result, we set unsustainable and unrealistic goals. When these elaborate goals are not achieved, people end up feeling much worse about themselves. If you try to achieve too much too fast, then chances are that these goals will not be met. For example, setting a goal to go to the gym every day before work, ruling out added sugars from your diet and sleeping eight hours a night, might be too much to handle all at once. With so many things to achieve, people may get anxious and if they do not do one thing, they end up feeling like a failure. In addition, setting goals which are overly difficult can lead to negative self-thoughts that will ultimately lower your chances of achieving your goal.
2. Think about the after-workout feeling
Sure, we know that exercise is good for us because it makes us stronger, healthier and keeps our weight in check. However, did you know that exercise can also help us feel better mentally? Psychologists believe that there are two types of good moods which we tend to experience after working out. These are the positive high activation (feeling alert, excited, happy) and the positive low activation (feeling calm, content, relaxed). When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins. These are produced naturally within the body that alter mood and block pain much like opiate drugs, such as morphine. They, therefore, give that positive feeling in the body after a good workout. But, according to research, aerobic exercise such as running tends to release more of these feel-good brain chemicals than aerobic workouts like weightlifting. But the best type of workout is the one that you enjoy doing the most. So if you love a yoga class, go for it. In fact, here are 6 reasons why yoga is super beneficial. If running is your thing, hit the road. Doing workouts which you enjoy is the key to consistency. According to most research, a significant mood boost requires at least 20 minutes of exercise.
3. Do short workouts when you're not feeling into it
On days when you really don't feel like going to the gym or don't have the time for a long and hard workout, try doing a short one at home instead. A 20-minute exercise session is better than doing nothing and you can still do an intense workout in a short period of time. When I'm tight with time or when my motivation is literally non-existent, this is what I do and it works for me. Knowing that the workout is short and that it will be over soon, helps me get it done. Here is how you can turn your home into a gym with these easy hacks.
4. Work out in the morning
By getting your workout done first thing in the morning before you start your day, you'll avoid a whole day of trying to make excuses so that you do not work out. As the day progresses, you might be feeling too tired to go to the gym after a whole day of work or you might have too much work to even bother going. By working out in the morning, you'd be getting your workout out of the way and you will not feel guilty for not working out because you were too tired or had too much to do. Working out in the morning also increases your energy levels for the rest of the day, so it might be an ideal morning routine.
5. Find a workout buddy
Working out with a friend can help a lot with motivation since you're less likely to get bored. While you're warming up on a cardio machine such as for instance a stationary bicycle, it's more fun to chat with your friend and catch up rather than do nothing or stare straight ahead. With a workout buddy, you could do partner workouts and can also help each other out. Therefore, you'll have more exercise options too. You're also more likely to stick to your commitment. Not wanting to let your workout partner down can be a great motivator to show up. Working out with a friend can also motivate you to work harder since it can bring out your competitive side and spur you on. When you're ready to give up, the sight of your friend powering on might be just the incentive you need to keep going.
6. Create a killer workout playlist
Listening to music while working out not only relieves boredom but can also improve the quality of your workout. Research has shown that listening to music during your workouts enhances physical performance by increasing your stamina and putting you in a better mood. In particular, music that is motivational or in keeping with your exercise is shown to have better psychological and physical effects. For example, when a song has a strong and steady beat, you can run to the beat of that music, which tends to feel satisfying and may inspire you to exercise more. Similarly, the catchy lyrics of a song you like will push you to exercise longer and harder during your routine.
7. Buy new workout clothes and dress for a workout
'Dress for success', they say. While it's a good motto to have professionally, does it also apply to the world of fitness? Research suggests that our brains are susceptible to 'enclothed cognition'. This term is used to describe the systematic influence that clothes have on the wearer's psychological processes, which means that dressing up for your workout can help fuel your success. Buying that cute pair of yoga pants which you've been longing for might just be the motivation you need to help you get to the gym. Also, if you buy new workout clothes, you'll probably want to wear them and not keep them locked up in your closet. Therefore, new workout gear will give you more of a reason to head to the gym. I also feel that by dressing for the job, you'll be mentally prepared for the task. Just as an actor puts on a costume to get into character, by wearing fitness clothes you too will get into character and perform better.
8. Visualise your success
Although the other forms of motivation mentioned above are highly effective, I have found that visualisation is the most valuable motivation tool for myself. A psychological technique which has been used on athletes for decades, just as an athlete visualises himself scoring that last winning shot, you too can visualise your success. By closing your eyes and imagining what it would be like to achieve your goal, you can prepare yourself physically and psychologically for the task at hand. If your goal is to lose 10 kilograms, imagine how you would look and feel like when you reach your goal. Visualisation does not necessarily need to be about the end goal, but we could also visualise ourselves completing a workout which we so desperately didn't want to do and how we would feel after we've accomplished it. If you're finding yourself constantly skipping your workouts or feeling extremely unenthusiastic about going to the gym, try to think about how that workout will bring you one step closer to your goal.
Alternatively, you might want to get a helping hand from a personal trainer. From establishing a lifetime exercise habit to reducing your chance of injury and seeing better and faster results, most importantly a health and fitness instructor can help you overcome any plateaus reached in your exercise routine.
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