You might be following your favorite fitness junkies on Instagram and thinking, how do they do it? It’s not quite as easy as it seems to jump into fitness and make it a lifestyle you enjoy, overnight. The thing is, there’s a fine line that divides the fitness advocate from the regular joes of the world.
When it comes to exercise, an initial desire to jump in is heavily different from upkeeping the motivation it takes to keep it going in the long term. What most people don’t tell you is that it’s not “motivation” that keeps you going half the time. You also need a mindset shift.
There is always going to be a long, exhausting day at work, your kids throw you for a loop, or you just don’t feel like it, plain and simple. Even the fittest of fitness junkies have days where they would rather be lounging in sweats than hitting the gym.
It’s Time To Get Out of Your Rut
Let’s find you some gym motivation tips for whenever you get stuck in a fitness rut and don’t see a way out. It can be hard to hit the gym after a few days rest due to a lingering cold, being in vacation mode, or because your negative self-talk has been running wild.
Even with all the barriers in the world, there are tons of ways to set yourself up for success. Some of these gym motivation tips will help you change your mindset over time so that you overcome some common barriers without much of a thought. Others will help you on the toughest days when you’re not feeling like a sweat session, but know that it’s part of your goals for the day.
So, no matter where the road has become bumpy, we’ve got a plan for you to make it to the finish line. Let’s jump right in and give you some fuel for the fire.
Focus On Your Goals
By adding some structure to your life and giving yourself a focus, you leave less up to chance and doing things “at the moment.” Rather than coming home and flopping on the couch after a long day, your goals prepare you mentally ahead of time that the day doesn’t end till after your after-work sweat session.
Here are several ways to start small that will help you crush big goals.
Develop a Routine
Tons of people swear that becoming a morning person changes your life. Robin Sharma wrote a great book about owning your morning, if getting up with the birds doesn’t sound sickening to you, give it a try.
We’re not here to tell you that you have to overhaul your life completely, but developing a routine that works best for you will help you feel more in control of your day over the long haul.
If you’re not feeling up to becoming a morning person, build a routine around the natural flow of your day and internal clock. Don’t be afraid to try things that you don’t think will work for you, either!
I’m a morning person, I get up early, and I’m ready to use my brain long before the sun comes up. When I first started working out, I thought it would be easiest to get up a little earlier and get my exercise in for the day.
In the long run, that didn’t work out for me. It took up some of the time that I felt was best suited for other tasks. Since I don’t need to use my brain for exercising (Hey, it’s easy to follow along to workout videos!), it works best for me to exercise at night before bed.
For the longest time, I told myself working out at night wouldn’t work for me because I like to go to bed early, and if I’m already tired, I’m not likely to want to workout. What ended up happening was that once I got into the routine, working out before bed started helping me sleep better, and I rarely want to skip out.
Crowd Out Bad Habits
Usually, when people jump into fitness and nutrition, they try to go all in and cut out all the “bad” in one go. Sometimes that works for people, but for most, it’s not an effective strategy. Rather than jumping in and focusing on things you can’t have and can’t do anymore, try doing the opposite.
Add in good habits, one at a time and focus on what you’re adding, rather than taking away. If your bad habit is grabbing a Big Gulp of your favorite soda on the way to work and continuing through the day without much water intake, try having one glass of water each morning before your Big Gulp.
Once you’ve mastered your one glass of water each morning, add in another at lunchtime and so forth. Pretty soon, you might find that you’re no longer finishing your large soda, or at the very least, you’ve increased your water intake, which in itself is beneficial.
The same goes for your diet and other habits of the day. Rather than taking away a bunch of foods, you can no longer eat, just add in better options until your taste and practices change over time, and you naturally let go of the bad habits.
It feels a lot better to let go of things that aren’t great for you over time than it does to feel like you’re imposing too many limitations on yourself. It’s more sustainable in the long run also.
Focus on Mondays and Fridays
Mondays are the start of the week for most of us, and Fridays feel like the kick-off to our weekends. Studies show that Mondays tend to be the healthiest day of the week, so try not to skip out on your health on Mondays to give yourself a boost of positivity for the week.
If you’re the kind of person that feels inspired days after accomplishing a goal, try not to skip your Friday workouts, either. It might help give you that boost of confidence you need to continue making healthy choices over the weekend.
Start Tracking Your Habits
It’s not for everyone, but habit trackers are great for several reasons. First, they create a visual cue that reminds you to act on certain things each day. As you fill in the bubble or check of the square each day, you also get a nice chain going that might help you feel less inclined to break it. It can also help you feel motivated to write down your successes each day.
Play Some Mind Games
Okay, maybe don’t play mind games, but seriously, you’ve got to get your mind right to lay the groundwork for success. Here are our top tips for getting your brain on board so your body will follow suit.
Figure Out Your Why
We know, we know. It’s so cliche. But, if you ask the most successful people out there, we’re willing to bet that most will agree on this. Before you obsess over jumping on board with a new fad diet or workout regime, consider the real reason why.
Are you following some trending workout gurus who are all into the keto diet and growing their glutes? Or, are you seriously interested in changing the way you view nutrition and exercise?
Decide what’s most important to you and why. If you’re just beginning, this might take some serious thought if you’re coming back from a hiatus on working out but have a somewhat clear view of your why already, this may be easy for you.
For those of you getting started with exercise, there are tons of great resources for getting started with your “why.”
Figure Out Exactly What Will Change
So, now you have a good grasp on why you want to work out and why it’s important to you. It’s time to consider a little self-reflection on your purpose. Think about what will change if you stick to your goals and your workout routine?
Let’s consider, for example, that part of your “why” is that you want to be able to chase your kids around the yard without tiring quickly or being in physical pain. Use some “if-then” statements and write them down for motivation if you need them.
In this example, your statement may look like, “if I work out three times per week for the next four weeks, then I will build some endurance and be able to keep up with my child at her birthday party next month.
The above is a pretty specific example, but you can tailor it to fit your style effortlessly. There are many benefits to regular exercise, aside from size and aesthetics. Maybe you want to drop a few pant sizes or look great in a bikini. But, the reality is, working out consistently will change many more things like your confidence level and how well you sleep.
The Power of Positivity
The power of positivity has been well-studied. It may sound silly, but being positive has real and lasting effects. And, what’s the worst that could happen, you spent some time thinking positively?
Whenever you find that you’re not in the mood to hit the gym, just envision yourself achieving your goal for the day. If you’re finding that you’re struggling with a barrier today, think about what it would take to overcome that particular barrier and find a way around it.
You didn’t get up early enough to hit the gym before work, can you save the drive time and do a quick home workout from YouTube instead? You know that you’ll be home late from work and can’t get to the gym this evening, is there any way you can go at lunchtime?
Once you start switching over to positive thinking, it’s infectious. You’ll find that you’re doing it not just to motivate yourself to work out, but in all other aspects of your life.
Have Some Appreciation
Your body is a well-oiled machine. Well, some people would argue that their bodies aren’t well-oiled anything. But that couldn’t be further from the truth! Our bodies are quite amazing, no matter what shape they’re in at the moment.
Sometimes, we just need to have a little appreciation for the body we have. Regular exercise is so beneficial, but it doesn’t always appear that way very quickly if you’re in a place where the fruits of your labor aren’t showing up through decreased pant sizes and washboard abs, think about the other benefits of getting regular physical activity.
Changing Negative Self-Talk
In many ways, engaging in negative self-talk is a lot like an addition. It’s something that you have to work hard at, choosing consciously to end it and move forward. We would never talk to our best friends, our parents, coworkers, or even our children the way that we speak to ourselves, right?
I remember one day when I called my best friend crying. I can’t remember what hateful insult I had thought about myself, but she asked me if I would ever say such a thing to her. Without a thought, I said, “No, of course, I wouldn’t. That would be rude and uncalled for, and you don’t deserve anyone’s judgment like that.”
She left just a long enough pause before asking why I would say such a thing about myself then. From that day forward, I haven’t been able to figure out why we are so quick to insult ourselves and say things we would never dream of saying to our friends and loved ones.
You can begin breaking down your patterns of negative self-talk by reframing your thinking. There are tons of great resources out there to get you started, but we recommend starting here.
Ditch Social Media
Why, yes, your gasps here were audible, in case you were wondering. We cannot stress this idea enough; social media is a highlight reel, a branding tool, a marketing tool. Even for the folks who strictly use social media for fun and not monetary gain, it pays to make one’s life seem flamboyantly happy. You don’t have to ditch social media altogether.
But, if you’re friends with tons of fitness folks who are making you feel bad that you aren’t just like them, rather than motivating you in times of need, mute their feed or unfollow them.
Choose one or two of your favorites, preferably those who try to keep their accounts more in-tune with their real lives.
Each person that you watch on social media may not be at the same place in their journey as you are. They aren’t dealing with the same genetic or environmental cards you are. Your story is unique, so it doesn’t need to look identical to someone else’s to be OK or acceptable.
Devise Your Plan
So, you’ve begun working on tweaking your mindset to be more successful. That’s a great start so far! Its time to create your plan for getting a little more in-depth on the preparation side of things. Here are several actionable steps for coming up with the perfect plan that suits your style.
Don’t be afraid to start small. Tons of people go all-in on a diet or work out a plan that ends up failing. We hate to tell you this, but that’s because drastic measures aren’t for the best. You’re not more likely to be successful with diving in any more than you’re likely to quit a bad habit by going cold turkey.
Our brains are more accepting of change over time. As the small successes build over time, we may have crossed to the other side of the road, but we only passed one lane at a time.
So, start with a few small changes to get you going and throw a few successes under your belt. For example, if you love to spend your Monday through Friday evenings watching Netflix with a bowl of chips and a cold beer, try adding in a work out just twice weekly for several weeks, in place of your nightly habit.
You may feel like, well, if my goal is to work out those five nights per week, why not just go all-in? As you may have noticed before, that’s not the best approach for most people. Starting with changing two out of five nights, habit wise is an excellent start. From there, you can add a day until you feel comfortable with your new routine.
Write It Down
If you’re anything like us, writing it down makes it real. Jot a little something down in the corner of your weekly planner or write out a few small goals to hang with a magnet on your fridge as a reminder. You can also go, full-on motivation board, if you’re the creative type who likes visuals to help motivate you.
Some people like to use trackers or bullet journals to help them see their fitness-related goals more clearly. The act of writing things down helps them stay accountable, please they get a little visual snapshot of how they’re doing.
Most people like to show up with their best foot forward and love for others to see them as successful. That’s part of the reason why sharing what you want lends itself so well to increasing success.
If you don’t have anyone rooting you on, it can be hard to hold yourself accountable. After all, you don’t have to convince anyone but yourself that it’s okay to skip a day. And, no one will know that you’re going to bed without working out again – for the 4th night in a row.
However, if you’ve shared your goals of working out with three people you’re close to, you’re more likely to have to answer to someone. We like to share things with three people so that someone is always alert or aware.
You never know when you’ll get that buddy check from one of your friends about whether or not you were vegging out on the couch or off accomplishing your goal for today.
If you’re not up for verbalizing your goals, feel free to sync up your favorite fitness tracker/watch with other like-minded people. Doing so can help build a community of people who have similar goals and want to check in with others so they can maintain their success.
Get a Partner, Start a Tribe
This tip rides the coattails of the above advice, but it’s important enough for further discussion. Although it’s great to find that ride or die fitness best friend to help you stay accountable, it can be more empowering to join a fitness group of like-minded people.
Support groups come in all sorts and a plentiful around town at hospitals and churches. You can easily find them at your fingertips through online sources like Facebook. Whether you find an online community or local group that feeds your soul, it’s an excellent way to help you achieve your goals.
Among the many benefits of support groups, you will gain emotional support and motivation from group participation. So, find your fitness best friend, find your tribe, and reap the benefits.
Find Out What Works Best For You
When it comes to holding yourself accountable, we need to know what makes us tick. Is it a reward system or a little punishment? For example, some people thrive on giving themselves ultimatums – eating outside of diet restrictions means doing 100 burpees at the end of the day.
For others, little rewards along the way work best – working out three times during this week earns you your favorite latte on Saturday morning. It’s all about finding a rhythm and system that suits your personality.
Be Kind To Yourself
A little kindness goes a long way. Read on to find out how being kind to yourself and giving yourself a break sometimes, really is the best course of action.
Give Yourself A Mental Health Day
It can become a habit to discount your feelings and want to do what it takes to accomplish your goals daily. However, sometimes there will be days where your mental health overrides the rest of what’s going on, and you just need to cut yourself some slack. Take the day off when you need to.
Don’t Leave Out Self-Care
Self-care is another one of those cliche topics, but it proves to have some positive effects on well-being. So, what’s the harm in trying it? Find out what makes you feel good and take the time to do that several times throughout the week.
Nourishing your mind, body, and soul will help you feel confident and empowered throughout the days and weeks. You may notice that working out doesn’t feel like such a chore when it’s another part of your self-care routine.
Don’t Get Burned Out
Finding success in your workout routine shouldn’t feel like a burden that decreases your quality of life. If it’s starting to feel that way, you may consider that you’re getting burned out, or your current regimen isn’t what’s best for you.
Take some time to explore other avenues, other workouts, and other routines and schedules that might better suit your personality and schedule. The right kind of exercise and program will make you feel revitalized, not chained down.
We’re not sure if you noticed or not, but this guide to gym motivation tips hasn’t mentioned the scale, not even once. That’s because the scale can be a useful tool to get some measurements from time to time, but it’s not a tool for motivation.
Instead, focus on some non-scale victories. Measuring success comes in many ways! If you’re feeling more comfortable in your favorite pair of jeans, or notice that your skin has been clearing up after cutting back on sugar and increasing your water intake, those are all non-scale victories that are worthy of celebration!
Wrapping Things Up
Even the fittest of fitness gurus need a little inspiration from time to time to keep going. Building the life you want that includes working out takes time; it’s not something that happens overnight.
If you’re feeling sluggish or finding it hard to jump on the workout bandwagon, give yourself a little credit and permission to do what works for you. Each person has things that help motivate them, and your journey will be unique to you.
Regular exercise is just part of the bigger picture of creating a life that makes you happy and full-filled. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and you may not become someone who trains six days per week in a month.
What you can do is implement some of these tips and tricks in your life. Once they become a habit that you don’t have to think so hard about, add in another.
When you feel like you need a little motivation to get back in gear, practice a little self-reflection and think about how far you’ve come already. Flip through some of the progress you’ve made and think about all your successes. It’s a great way to boost your confidence and help you get into the mindset you need to keep going!