In case you missed last week’s post, I shared all about Why & How I Started Working Out with all the details of why I started weight lifting, what program I used to get started, and a few helpful tips for getting started.
This week, I’m sharing my tips for staying motivated. This “How I Stay Motivated to Work Out” post has been one of my most requested blog posts for my fitness series, so I’m excited to share my thoughts! My hope is that while I don’t have all the answers for staying motivated, that I’ll at least have a few ideas for you to think about that may potentially keep you motivated in your journey as well!
|| How I Stay Motivated to Work Out ||
I know there are hundreds of reasons for why people stay motivated along with tons of other articles related to this topic, but I wanted to share what’s been personally motivating me to go to the gym for the past year. Because, I hope you know – No one is ever 100% motivated 100% of the time to work out… even the best of the best in fitness. Everyone has off days. Everyone has days (or weeks) when doing zero physical activity sounds sublime. The key is: Most of the successful fitness people out there have tips and tricks for keeping them motivated. Below, I’m sharing 10 of my reasons (that I have to remind myself of frequently!) to keep me motivated.
I track my progress. || Since Day 1 of my workouts, I’ve tracked my progress. It depends what exercise you’re choosing to do, but everything is trackable. For those that are weight training (like me), track your weight and reps. For runners, track your distance and time. For yogis, you can even track your flexibility and core strength (“Last week, I couldn’t do the splits, but this week, I’m one inch away.”, etc.). There are all kinds of ways to track progress and tons of different apps to use, but I keep it simple. I have an Evernote note on my phone strictly for my workouts. I have each individual exercise listed and the weight and reps I’m able to do underneath each. After a while of working a certain muscle, you’ll be able to go up in weight. So, for example, with squats, I started off very simply with just the bar. After a few weeks, I added 10 pounds on each side, then 15, and so on. I’ve kept track of the weight I started with for each exercise and where I currently am. (Side note: For those of you that want to keep a very detailed log of your weights, the dates you went up, etc., I’d recommend using an app or keeping a journal or log. You can Google “____ log” (insert your exercise: weight lifting, running, etc.) and some cool things will pop up! It’s so cool to see that I started with such a small weight on some exercises and that I’m now lifting some pretty hefty weights. Definitely motivation to continue building muscle and strength!
I see results. || Like I mentioned in my first workout post, I’d highly recommend taking “before” photos. No matter what your goals are (weight loss, muscle gain, etc.), if you’re working out consistently, you’re going to see results of some kind. For me, my results haven’t been crazy. I’ve always had a fairly athletic build (thanks, 10 years of gymnastics!), so I wasn’t expecting a huge difference in my overall body composition. However, that doesn’t mean there haven’t been any results. Over the past year, I’ve seen more definition in my shoulders and back; my thighs, hamstrings, and glutes have bulked up (I’m happy about that haha); and there are even evidences of abs! I don’t plan on sharing my progress photos because those are personal to me, but I can’t tell you how encouraging it is to look in the mirror and visibly notice positive changes in your body. It’s one of the main reasons I’ve stayed motivated for over a year now!
I schedule it into my week. || While this was one of the “tips for getting started” that I listed in my previous post, it’s also a motivation for me, in a sense. I find that if I haven’t scheduled my workout into my week, then I’m less likely to actually do it. However, if I have a set-aside time already in my agenda, then I’m motivated to go to the gym because it’s already a part of my day and not just something I’m trying to squeeze in real quick. I’m also a big fan of checking things off my to-do list, so if “working out” is purposefully listed on my schedule for the day, then I’m motivated to get it done!
I find programs I actually enjoy, but I also change it up regularly. || First things first, you need to find an activity that you actually enjoy. If lifting heavy weights, running, etc. is something you absolutely hate, then you’re less likely to do it. If you remember from my original post where I gave my fitness background, I didn’t immediately start off with weight training. I started off doing something I really liked – yoga. Once I got comfortable with yoga and was ready for another challenge, that’s when I started looking into weight training. After I made the decision to begin weight training, I then found a program that I knew I’d enjoy (Strong Curves). This program starts off in a very non-intimidating way with weight training and focuses on weights and conditioning. It’s not focused on cardio because I know I don’t enjoy cardio. On the flip side though, if you love cardio (or stretching or group classes or whatever else), then go find a program that meets those preferences. I’ve just found that if you do a program that meets your initial preferences, that’s a way better method for getting started. And once you get groovin’ with your initial program, then you can begin challenging yourself and getting outside of your comfort zone.
In addition to finding things you enjoy doing, you should also change it up regularly. If you do the exact same thing every single week, you’re probably going to get bored and lose motivation. Here’s what that’s looked like for me: After 24 weeks for doing my Strong Curves program, I was ready to change it up a little, so I asked Jay for help. With Strong Curves, I was doing full-body workouts 3 days a week (meaning I was working all major muscle groups each time I went to the gym). Jay said I should try changing it up for my next program (one he helped me put together that I’ll be sharing via blog posts over the next month or so) and work only individual muscle groups each workout (a chest/shoulders day, a leg day, and a back/biceps/triceps day). Honestly, I wasn’t a fan of this idea initially because I typically don’t like change, but now I love it! I’m still doing basically the same exercises each week, but because I changed the order in which I’m doing them, it’s a new challenge that I’m enjoying! So if you’re ever getting bored with your workouts, research ways to change it up a bit (runners can switch from the treadmill to outdoor trails, yogis can try new instructors, and so on). With new challenges, your mind will appreciate the change of pace and is more likely to stay motivated!
I find good podcasts and playlists. || This one is HUGE! There have been so many times that I really haven’t wanted to go to the gym but I have only because I wanted to listen to a podcast I was obsessing over. (I did a post on my favorite podcasts from last spring and am currently updating my list for next month!) I’m dead serious – A good podcast can get you through just about anything you’re reluctant to do – Workouts, dishes, long drives, you name it.
If you ever get tired of podcasts (I did for a while there), then switch over to music. I rotate through Spotify’s workout playlists, and I’ve found that the different genres of music (rap, 90s pop, jock jams) put me in different moods that get me through different workouts. I’d definitely recommend finding your favorite playlists for days when your brain isn’t able to focus on a podcast.
I love my workout clothes & accessories. || It took me a while to invest in cute gym clothes because I thought, “What’s the point? I just get sweaty in them and it doesn’t really matter.” But can I just say?… Wrong! I’ve been using every opportunity I can (birthday, Christmas, portions of my monthly allowance) to slowly build my workout clothes and shoes collection, and it’s been really helpful in my gym motivation! Now that I have workout tops and and leggings I love, I’m actually excited to wear them to the gym. And because I have sneakers I’m obsessed with, it’s fun to put them to good use in my workouts. I’m planning on doing an entire post all about my gym style (tops, leggings, sneakers, hats, my gym bag, workout bottles), so I’ll have to limit myself right now. But I’ll just say – Because I love my workout clothes, gym bag, water bottle, etc., I’m significantly more motivated to work out than before. And the confidence that a good outfit can bring to your workouts is incredible!
I follow inspiring Instagram accounts. || Let me start by saying that you need to be careful with the accounts you follow because it’s easy to get sucked into unhealthy comparison or to be too hard on yourself as you’re getting started. It’s important to know your worth, value, and identity at all times, but especially in the fitness realm because it’s very tempting to go down the path of comparison and negative self-talk. The key for my motivation is that I’ve found accounts and fitness bloggers that inspire me. These gals encourage body love, stress the importance of individual goals (not blanket goals of “be skinny”), and empower woman to be healthy. A few of my favorites for body positivity are @kelseywells, @annavictoria, @kayla_itsines, and @emilyskyefit. I also love following gals that post helpful workout videos (for those times when I want to change up my workouts a bit and need exercise ideas). For those, I love @alexia_clark (serious bod goals!), @whitneyysimmons (booty goals), @kyritchfit, and @caraloren. I’ve found all of these women’s accounts to be really helpful throughout this fitness journey of mine – Yes, their bodies are great, but their mindsets, energy, passion, and helpful tips & workouts have been extremely motivating for me over the past year too!
I have a supportive partner. || While having a workout partner isn’t totally necessary for success in your fitness journey, I’ve found it to be very helpful. Jay and I don’t usually go to the gym together, but he’s my “supportive partner” in that he supports my goals, encourages me when I’m feel unmotivated, listens when I tell him about my progress, and overall understands my desire for health and my enthusiasm for fitness. I know not everyone will be able to find this type of partner right away, but I’d encourage you to start looking! The fact that I have someone to talk to about fitness that truly gets it is such a relief and has definitely been a motivator for me. And bonus points if you can find an actual workout buddy that will go with you to the gym. I would imagine the accountability in that would be especially motivating as well.
I feel good & have increased confidence. || Lastly, after working out for a while now, I just feel good. Yes, I feel good directly after a workout because of the post-workout high, but I’m talking about overall, in life. I feel better. My lower back pain is completely gone (turns out, I needed better posture and a stronger back). My body is stronger and leaner. I’m eating healthier so my body gets what it needs on my workout days. My confidence has sky-rocketed knowing that I’m healthy, capable, and strong instead of fragile, tired, and weak. On the days when I’m really not wanting to go to the gym, I remind myself of how far I’ve come and how much better I feel. I didn’t just magically start feeling healthier and stronger; it’s attributed to the fact that I’ve been dedicated to exercising and doing it consistently. When I remind myself that the thing I’m reluctant to do that day is the thing that’s making a healthier, stronger, more confident person, I’m definitely more motivated to go because it’s worth it in the end!
I hope this was an encouraging post for anyone struggling with fitness motivation. Know that you’re not alone in that struggle and be sure to write down anything and everything that motivates you. If you do, you’ll be able to revisit that list on your off days!
Stay tuned for the rest of these posts coming up in my fitness series:
- How to Overcome Gym-timidation
- My Current Workouts (with exact exercises via video, reps, & helpful tips) – Day 1 (Chest & Shoulders), Day 2 (Legs), & Day 3 (Back, Biceps, & Triceps)
- What’s in My Gym Bag
- My Workout Style (with recommended places to shop for cute outfits, outfit inspo, and gym must-haves)
Did I miss anything that’s currently motivating you in your fitness journey in this “How I Stay Motivated to Work Out” post? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!