Finding the motivation to start working out is not an easy feat on most days. Sprinkle in 2020, and all of a sudden, things just feel even harder. These days, we’ve all become accustomed to a life that largely takes place at home. Yet, we crave movement, routine, and to get back to a life outside our homes and into our gyms. You’ve no doubt read many articles giving you advice on how to get motivated, but this year feels different, so let’s take a look at a more simplified plan of action on how to get motivated to exercise.
Tip #1: Honor the Pause
Hear me out. We are rolling into a new year, and 2020 has packed a punch of unexpected and often stressful changes. We are constantly in pivot mode. The advice here is not to get caught up in the over-achieving culture where being active and busy equate to success. Instead, give yourself permission to rest and reset.
If you listen and tune into your body, you’ll hear the answer. Not surprising, but studies show that anxiety, depression, and stress-related challenges are on the rise. This may not be the time to push yourself… not yet, anyway. Lean into rest. Nourish your soul and self in ways other than with bench presses. Use this time to think about what health goals you do want to set for yourself. Pause. Breathe. Reset. Then Go.
Honoring the pause may look as simple as taking a mid-day nap, listening to a guided meditation, reading a book, taking a walk, finding a slow yoga class online, or taking a long bath. The idea is that you can take care of your health in other ways besides a workout. In fact, take extra good care of your mind and body moving into this winter season. Consider this your permission slip.
Tip #2: Quality vs. Quantity Workouts
Do you equate achievement with the amount of time you spend exercising? If you do, there is a chance you’ve already given up before you began. It’s hard to carve an hour out of every day to hit the gym. Take the pressure off of the amount of ‘time’ you’re devoting to fitness and focus on the quality of your workout.
Numerous studies back up the notion that a quick and hard workout is just as effective (in some cases more) than spending an hour at the gym. What’s even better is that the pandemic has spurred a whole host of online fitness offerings that focus on quick and efficient workouts. This burst of fitness is much easier to squeeze into your day. At fifteen minutes, it won’t be nearly as hard to convince yourself to get motivated and moving.
Try out a quick HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) workout to get your heart rate pumping and body moving. GQ pulled together a great list of the most popular apps for a successful at-home workout. Check it out here.
Tip #3: Revisit your WHY
Sometimes our greatest motivation lives in the question “why.” Why do you want to exercise? For some people, exercise is just a way to lose weight or sculpt their body. It becomes a quick solution to a problem. Those reasons are fine, but to keep the motivation up and build longevity, it helps to create purpose.
Ask yourself what exercise means to you besides shedding a few pounds or having perfectly sculpted arms. What is the value, outside of these goals, to exercise? Maybe it helps reduce stress and keep your energy up so you can keep up with your kids. Perhaps it’s the only time you get to yourself each day and that time is precious. Having a clear vision of the value in your “why” will help you find the motivation when it’s lacking. That “why” will be something you can return to when motivation is lacking or results aren’t being achieved quickly enough. Oftentimes, visualizing, and verbalizing our reason for doing something drives us to move forward.
Tip #4: Set “Micro” Exercise and Health Goals
“Dream big” is the saying, right? It is no doubt important to have really big goals and aspirations in life, but when it comes to fitness we often set such lofty goals for ourselves that we immediately feel like a failure if we don’t achieve that level of success. What if, instead of setting giant goals for yourself in the space of working out—“I will work out five days a week for an hour, cut out all sugar, drink 20 gallons of water a day, and lose 10 lbs. a week”—shift your thinking into creating micro-goals. Take your big (macro) goal and create small (micro) goals to help you feel like you have solid, actionable steps. Think of your micro-goals as a daily checklist.
Here are some examples of micro-goals:
- Do a quick 15-minute workout on my favorite fitness app.
- Take a walk around the neighborhood.
- Drink more water.
- Stretch out in the morning
Tip # 5: Opt Outside
For some of us, the gym just does not check the boxes and can often feel intimidating. At-home workouts can be great, but even those occasionally fall flat. And, many people aren’t quite ready to physically enter a workout space or gym still. If you fall into these categories, then opt for a workout in the great outdoors. Start small by taking walks around your neighborhood or going on a bike ride with the family. Who says a workout has to take place at the gym? Here are some recommendations for outdoor fitness this season.
Tip # 6: Phone a Friend
Having an accountability partner often is just the right motivation to get you moving. A qualitative study with a group of middle-aged women indicated that accountability was one of several factors that enabled exercise. Research has shown that people who exercise in groups are more likely to see results. People can establish accountability by working out with a friend, checking in with each other daily, or hiring a coach. Another popular way to establish accountability is to join or start an online community on social media, where everyone is focused on the same exercise journey. Having a community you can be part of for your fitness journey is so important, but it takes time to find your tribe. For tips on how to find or start an online community, click here.
Bottom Line on Finding the Motivation to Exercise
As you evaluate your reasons to get back to an active lifestyle, it’s important to remember that you are the driver of your bus. Find what works for your lifestyle. You have the freedom to find the activities you enjoy and on the schedule that works for you. Grab these tools to set up your plan and reap the benefits of an active lifestyle.