Staying Motivated to Exercise
Written by Stacey K, Contributing Writer
Once the initial excitement of New Year’s goals has passed, the reality of sticking with an exercise plan can become difficult.
As keepers of the home, we have much to do every day. It is easy to knock exercise off the list in order to get something else accomplished. This might be necessary occasionally, but in the long run, it will hamper our ability to reap the wonderful benefits regular exercise has to offer. Benefits that will help the entire family.
How can we stay motivated when life gets busy?
Get a big enough WHY.
Having a strong reason for doing what we do, helps us get through the times when we don’t feel like doing whatever that thing is. For example, some Sundays I don’t feel like going to church. Do I just stay at home and let my feelings dictate my actions? No. I get up and go because I know the value of being there. I want my children to learn the importance of worship and I believe God wants me and my family to meet with the saints each Sunday. So I go.
The same is true for exercise. Just working out because you think you should, won’t keep you going for long. Think about why it is important. Maybe heart disease runs in the family and you want to do what you can to avoid that. Perhaps you simply want more energy to serve your family each day. (A worthy reason to be sure!)
Whatever your reason for exercising, keep it in mind. Communicate it to a friend. Write it in a journal. That reason is certainly worth the brief discomfort you may feel during your workout!
Set small goals and challenges
When I was trying to lose the weight gained during my last pregnancy, I felt very overwhelmed. Once I made the smaller goal of losing two pounds in a week, things got easier. I could say no to dessert and yes to a workout (even when I didn’t want to) because the end was in sight. Since my goal was clear and could be achieved quickly, I was able to see it through.
If you don’t have any weight to lose (or even if you do), it is fun to challenge yourself to do something new. Perhaps you want to do ten “man” push-ups or run two miles without stopping. Whatever it is, make it attainable and work towards it consistently. This adds an extra element to exercising and gives a wonderful mental boost once the challenge is completed.
Along the same lines, it is nice to do a particular type of workout for a set amount of time. I like to do six or twelve week plans. In the comments of last month’s post I mentioned enjoying Debbie Seibers’ Slim in 6. It has a definite beginning and end and gets more difficult as you move through the levels. This is helpful because it provides a goal and an ending date. I know I’m committed for six weeks and then move on to something else.
Image by Lululemon Athletica
Vary your workouts.
If you’re bored, change things up. Renting a new workout video or starting a six week challenge can immediately boost your desire to exercise and often makes things fun again.
It is also helpful to vary the type of exercise you do throughout the week. Doing the same thing every day can get tedious. To keep things interesting and avoid injury, alternate heart-pumping cardio and strength training on your workout days. (I personally like to do two or three of each a week. That sounds like a lot, but they don’t have to be long sessions, 20 to 30 minutes is great).
Remember: Find an exercise you enjoy.
I mentioned last month that finding something you enjoy is key to developing the exercise habit. And it is.
Even though it is important to do things when we don’t want to, it’s much nicer if we do want to.
Find something you enjoy and you will have the workout battle much less often.
It is easier to exercise on a regular basis than haphazardly. The mind and body benefit from a good workout and it doesn’t take long to form a slight addiction to that feeling.
When you are consistent the body adapts and changes. Your workout becomes less tiring and more enjoyable. Soon you will be ready for a new challenge. However, if the running shoes only go on every two weeks or so, it will continue to be difficult.
I know it can be a struggle to find the time each day for exercise, I’m with you. Sometimes we have to get a little creative. It’s worth it.
Don’t rely on motivation.
It is important not to fall into the motivation trap. We must be aware of the fact that we will not be motivated every day. We have to remember our why and choose to workout even when we really don’t feel like it.
(By saying “feel like it,” I mean unmotivated. Be sure to pay attention to any physical issues that arise. Being stubborn and getting injured is not recommended).
I encourage you to carve out a little time each day to really get moving. It is not necessary to do a crazy workout plan. Just find something you can do consistently and before long you’ll be feeling good!
How do you stay motivated to exercise?
Top image by Lululemon Athletica
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VERY nice article.. and agree strongly with most important thing in developing and continuing exercise program is “doing something you enjoy.” For me its tennis; but whatever is enjoyed by you is best way to keep it going….
Formerly a ‘fitness trainer’ for Nautilus I might add… whatever one does; start out slow and gradually build up.. MOST COMMON mistake is too much too soon resulting in injuries, or worse and removing the desire to continue…Keep a chart; adjust as needed…. Exercise ; along with proper diet, good sleep, passion, family and friends, positive thinking and of course…. water and daily clay- ‘Living Clay’ for full body detoxification, building ones immune system, increased energy etc.. resulting in a more happier and quality of life….. Enjoyed the article.. paul @ ncc
To funny, I just decided to start exercising again, *really* 🙂
I find it’s easiest if I do the exact same thing every day, the same days a week. But that’s just me, I like auto pilot
I am a visual learner, so taking before/after photos and keeping track of measurements, etc help me in staying motivated to reach my goals. (example – my 30-day shred experiment http://aprilemery.blogspot.com/2010/09/30-day-shred-update-before-after-photos.html)
It’s so hard for me to stay motivated if I can’t see changes taking place, so I take photos and keep track of my progress (inches, weight lost or strength gained – how many reps I can do or distance I can go without “dying”). If I didn’t do that I would not stay motivated at all.
After being quite ill for a few years, I’ve been working a year to get back into shape. One gadget that really helps motivate me is a pedometer. Another is being part of an online accountability group, Fit Mommies, that report to each other every Friday. (Anyone can join; the link is available on my blog.)
And today I snowshoed for the first time! Last year at this time, I could barely walk a hundred feet because one leg didn’t want to work very well. Thankfully that was only a termporary problem, and now I can do so much more! Praise the Lord!
I am not yet 40 and have been waiting for 19 years for a hip replacement. I am limited in what I can do for exercise but know that I must keep moving (for me that means walking on my treadmill 4-5 times/wk, for the most part) or else my joints worsen and I lose mobility. When I was younger I’d exercise in fits and spurts: 6 months faithfully swimming then quit, etc. Now, although I don’t love it, exercise is a much more natural and regular part of life. I am pleased about that. At the start of each week I pencil my walking times into my agenda. I am also aware that I need to be careful not to spend too much time sitting on my butt at the computer… even just moving around the house more cooking, taking care of the home, makes a difference.
After a few months of having to fight myself to exercise, my body is accustomed to it and will almost walk me out the door to walk/run even if I’m NOT in the mood to do so. Habit can become a good friend in an exercise program.
Great article, thanks! I nominated your blog for the Stylish Blogger Awards http://broadhorizonsschool.blogspot.com/2011/02/stylish-blogs.html
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