Finding the Motivation to Exercise

There’s an Instagram fitness guru who was asked how she stays motivated to work out every day. She replied that she actually isn’t motivated every single day, but that working out has become a habit. Even if she doesn’t feel like it, she still does it because it’s just become part of her habitual routine.

I read in It Starts wit Food if you want to create a health/fitness related habit, you need to stick with it for six months in order for it to keep with you for years to come. When starting out, don’t think about making it to six months, or making it a permanent habit. Focus on one day at a time. When you wake up, decide that regardless of what happens later, today you are going to work out.

For me, creating a calendar and writing my workouts in advance, then writing the stats of said workout once completed, helps me to stay excited about my goals. In the past two years I have worked out consistently 5 to 6 days a week. The only times I haven’t, is post marathon when I take a few days off from the gym and usually a week off of running.

For two months in early 2018 I had a running injury and wasn’t able to run. I was even on crutches for a week. Yet, thanks to my husband who helped me stay positive, I still went to the gym and did upper body exercises, then eventually started biking every day until I could run again. The main reason was because every morning for the past 7ish months, I’d been working out in the morning. It came to the point that if I didn’t workout in some way, I just felt off all day. It has become a habit, so I stick with it.

There have been days when I was dealing with stressful situations and didn’t even want to get out of bed in the morning. Once I did get up, I put on my running clothes that I laid out the night before, and stepped out the door just because it has become what I do. Once I’m out there, all the other reasons for why I run come flooding back. Although I run for so many reasons aside from “it’s a habit”, the fact that it is a habit has helped me stick with it.

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After having said motivation isn’t the key, but instead the key is creating the habit -it’s time to give suggestions for staying motived in the early stages.

-Working out/running with others

Having friends to talk to while running will help the time go faster and you guys can help push each other. If you have a friend counting on you to run with them, you’ll feel more committed and won’t so easily just not do it.

-Keeping track of your running stats

When I come back from a run it feels so good to input the stats of said run into my training calendar. It will give you that sense accomplishment and make you want to keep going each do so you can have a calendar filled with completed workouts.

-Signing up for a race

You will be more committed to your training plan when you have a race coming up that you need to be prepared for! Having a group of friends sign up for a race and then train together for it is a lot of run! That’s what I did at the Golden Gate Half Marathon.

-Be around like-minded, positive people

Ideally in person, but also following people who inspire you on social media helps. If you are around inactive people who enjoy a sedentary life, then chances are you won’t be motivated to go out and be active. If you are around negative people who complain all the time, then you will most likely become more negative. And it’s pretty hard to be a distance runner and be negative. So become friends with people who are active, who set goals and try to improve themselves in some way. People who believe in themselves and believe in you!

Social media is great because that also works. Reading motivational posts and seeing what others are accomplishing will make you motivated to reach your goal. (Although if Instagram and other such platforms cause you to fall into the comparison trap where instead their just make you feel bad, because you feel like you aren’t achieving as much as them, or you don’t have as good a body as them, or what-have-you, then you should avoid social media. I’ve taken breaks from it at times because I noticed it negatively effecting my mood.)

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-Rewarding yourself

After you complete a tough run/tough week/stay with your workout for a month/etc., reward yourself with something! I liked to buy myself new running shorts or top. This worked well, because having running clothes I liked made me motivated to go out and run so I could wear it!

You could also reward yourself with healthy snacks. Some of my favorites are smoothies, acai bowls, protein shakes, and healthy carbs.

-Keeping a food log (if healthy eating is also something you want to accomplish)

This helped me ton. I kept a food log for over 6 months and it helped me be aware of what and how much I was eating. Counting calories or macros seemed like too much work, so keeping a food log was my simplified version of that. It helps you to be more mindful of what you are eating.

-Write down you controllable goals

Write down your long-term goals, then write down what daily goals you need to accomplish in order to reach them and focus on the daily ones. Great things are accomplished one day at a time!

Also, create goals you can control, rather than saying “I want to lose five pounds in a month” say, “I want to cut out all dessert this month”. You really have no control over how much weight you lose, some lose it easier than others. However, you can control your actions, so the best goals are action based. I learned this when it comes to marathon goal times. Come race day, our time isn’t totally in our control. I talk more about setting controllable marathon goals in another post.

-Having a membership at a gym you enjoy

Having a gym you like going to is a huge benefit. Or even if it’s a gym where you enjoy the walk or drive to and from. And with running, having running routes you look forward to.

-Set out your workout clothes the night before

Set your clothes out and if you work out in the morning, put them on right when you wake up. If you work out in the evening , either change into them when you leave work, or put them on right when you get home. Having the outfit on is the first step, and if you procrastinate that, then you’re procrastinating working out. (Of course driving straight to the gym after work works too.)

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-Having music or audiobooks you only listen to while working out

Only listen to it while running or working out, that way you look forward to the workout so you can listen to it.

-Read motivational books

Whether you are listening to them while running, or reading them on your downtime, reading books that inspire you to reach your goals is always a good idea. Similar to the benefit of being around like minded people.

-Focus on how running (or exercising in general, or healthy eating) will make you feel better

The health benefits of running aren’t just physical, but it improves you mental and emotional state. When you don’t want to get off the couch, think of how after you’re run you will feel more energized, and happier. Same with food, think about how eating the junk food will make you feel bleh, but eating the apply will make you feel better.

-Think about how your body deserves to be treated well!

Cutting out, or limiting, certain foods and exercising will help your body fight off disease, give you endorphins, give you confidence, and help you live a longer and happier life. Eating well because you love your body takes training, just like any habit. The key to having your dream body, really is about loving your body right now as it is, regardless of weight! Here are diet books that work because they tell you the truth about food and what’s doing to you body.

These are all things that have helped me, and I hope they help you as well! For those new to running and wanting to give it a go, check out my post on how to start running!