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Motivation is literally our desire to do something. When we are motivated, we feel inspired to do what may be uncomfortable or something that we would prefer not to do. Usually the thing we don’t particularly want to do, is something we know is good for us and involves a goal we want to accomplish or a lifestyle that we want to have. Staying motivated is vital to getting what we really want in life and motivation helps us to get out of a rut or over the hump.

Regarding exercise, many people would choose natural motivation verses having a major life circumstance thrust upon them where they must exercise or die. What can we do to increase our chances of crossing this mental threshold to feel motivated on a consistent basis?


Motivation almost always comes after starting a new behavior, not before. Taking action in itself will motivate you! Motivation frequently is the result of action, not the cause of it. Don’t look to be inspired before you take action. The reverse is also true - getting started will make you inspired. This is because when you are in motion you have created momentum for yourself. As we learned from Newton’s First Law, “Objects in motion tend to stay in motion.” Once you have started anything, it is easier to continue moving forward. Nearly all of our resistance is in the beginning. If you can get yourself walking for even 5 minutes or do 10 squats, you will find that you can finish (and usually enjoy) your workout. The hardest part is starting and if you have started, you have done the hardest part and the motivation will come.


If you don’t plan your exercise time, your day will get away on you. Let’s face it, most of us have more potential activities and projects in a day than there are hours for it. When you have your workout scheduled, (especially if you are meeting a friend or a trainer to do it), you are much more likely to follow through regardless of your motivation levels.

Even if you are going solo for your workout, you’re not likely to cancel out on others so why would you want to cancel on yourself?

Setting a schedule for yourself may seem simple, but it puts your decision-making on autopilot by giving your goals a time and a place to live. It increases the odds that you will follow through, regardless of your motivation levels.


When you develop a ritual such as starting with the same warm-up every day, it provides a mindless way to get yourself going. This helps to strengthen your habit which makes exercise easier to do on a consistent basis. Most sports teams have a pre-game routine to make things simple, repeatable, and gets them in the flow for what is to come. Develop an exercise ritual that works for you.


The Goldilocks Rule says that we experience our utmost motivation when we work on tasks that challenge (but don’t over-tax) our current abilities. Creating greater motivation to exercise means, “Not too hard, not too easy. It’s just right.” If you find that you are frustrated or feel defeated in a workout, it might be too hard. When you find yourself feeling bored, unchallenged and not growing, it is too easy. When you are energized, challenged, and being transformed, it’s probably just right. It’s also effective to make it just the right amount of fun.


What you measure, improves. When you track your progress you can see where you’ve come from and how far you’ve grown. Keeping track can also be a motivational tool for those people who love to check things off of a list.

Some people choose to keep their own individual process private, and others like to post it publicly. As always – it’s whatever works for you! Regardless of your style, keeping track shows your progress, it promotes some built-in accountability, and can be a competition against yourself.

Whatever you measure, you tend to grow and improve. You can track days exercised, minutes walked, miles ran, pounds lifted or whatever motivates you. If you post things publicly, such as on Facebook, you may have a whole crowd of people cheering you on and applauding your success. This can also be a motivator to keep you going.


Relative to the time in your day or week, nearly any habit you perform is over quickly. Your workout can be finished in 20-90 minutes. You will never regret a work-out. I have yet to hear someone say, “I wish I didn’t work-out today.” The time invested (uncomfortable or not) is relatively short. However, the benefits of your workout and having a routine of consistently working out, will last your entire life.


When you have visual reminders, it is a constant reminder to yourself of the exercise that you are going to do. It reinforces your commitment to exercise and greatly increases your follow-through. If you prepare the night before, it is less hassle in the morning and you are one step ahead of accomplishing your workout.


A good rule of thumb is to always have enough exercise clothes for seven to ten days. This way you never run the risk of not having things to wear because they are in the laundry. Having enough clothes is a way of preparing for exercise. Wearing the right type of gear is also motivational. If you don’t have the proper attire for hot or cold workout conditions (particularly if you prefer the outdoors), you will be more inclined to skip a workout or five. People also feel more confident in a new outfit or in something that makes then look good verses pulling something from the back of the closet that they’ve had for the past ten years. Great exercise clothes can be a sign of respect towards yourself and your exercise habit. It can even become part of your identity – I am now a runner so I now wear what runners wear. And trust me – those padded pants that cyclists all wear are a MUST for the long ride! Go ahead and invest in your exercise habit.


It is so true that accountability partners / training buddies; as well as support from friends and family truly make all the difference. Your close circle of who you spend the most time with truly does have an influence on you. In the Framingham Heart Study of 12,067 participants, there was a strong correlation between an individual gaining weight when their friends and family gained weight. Subjects had a 57% increase in risk of gaining weight if a close friend gained weight; a 40% risk increase if a sibling gained weight; and a 37% increased risk if their spouse gained weight. If you are on the path of desired weight loss, consider the people you hang around with and consider having some healthy and fit friends in the mix if you do not have them already. It has been said that we become the average of the five people we hang out with most so chose wisely. Also, having fit people in your life who exemplify a healthy lifestyle as well as an exercise partner will drastically increase your motivation and chances of success. When one person is feeling unmotivated the other person is there to champion the unmotivated person on. If there is the rare occasion that you are both feeling unmotivated, your commitment towards each other will keep you on track.


Once you have signed up for an event, you’re committed! It’s out there. Some of us are more motivated when we have an event to train for that we can look forward to. Check ahead and sign up for a running race, a cycling event, or a triathlon to train for, and better yet, rope some friends into the event. Many times it is the social aspect of training and celebration at the end that is truly worth the time and sweat we put into preparing for the event.

Sometimes it’s having a regular event on your calendar. Perhaps it is recreational volleyball; a swim, TRX, or spin class; dragon boat training; or a being part of a tennis, running, or golf club. A specific event or a regular time slot such as a class can be huge motivators. Plus, the people you meet will motivate you and you will have some great social time!

Test these motivators out!

I would love to hear which ones work for you!

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