How to stay motivated when working out?
By Julie Kailus
If losing pounds is as easy as journaling about what you put in your mouth, can you use the same technique to help you stick to a fitness routine?
Dieters who kept a food diary lost twice as much weight as those who kept no records, according to a recent study by Kaiser Permanente’s Center for Health Research. But while keeping a journal holds you more accountable for how you treat your body, sticking to a fitness routine is different from sticking to a healthy eating routine. Personal trainers we talked to recommend these tactics to keep you motivated and inspired to work out.
1. Change your perspective
Shift your thinking from couch potato mentality to thinking like an athlete. This may sound like a big challenge, but it’s not as big a leap as you think. Essex, Massachusetts mom April Bowling, 33, stopped using her busy life as an excuse not to exercise. After the birth of her children (now ages five and three), Bowling started viewing exercise as a way to set a strong example for her kids.
“At first I looked at it as time away from them, but I realized kids do what they see you doing, ” she says. “Now both kids are very physically active.”
Bowling started thinking about her workouts at odd hours as a blessing rather than a sacrifice. She also found inspiration in others — looking outward for extra motivation. “Take inspiration from everyone you meet — even people who can’t be physically active, ” she says. “It reinforces why I’m lucky.” Whether you need to put an “I’m lucky” sticky note on the mirror, or you can see the power of health in your children’s eyes, committing to a fitness routine begins in your head.
2. Set a goal
There’s nothing more motivating than that first 5K looming in bold letters on the calendar. Register early and commit to an exercise program that will get you in shape by race day.
“Set realistic goals that include clear milestones, and as you progress toward your goal, you’ll find a ripple effect occurs and things fall into place in your work, home life, and health, ” says Stacy Fowler, a Denver-based personal trainer and life coach.
The goal doesn’t even have to be an organized race. Maybe it’s a mission to fit into that bikini by the annual beach vacation or that old pair of jeans buried in your closet. Whatever it is, define it, write it down and revisit it daily.
Make sure it’s realistic and you can actually adapt your life around meeting the goal, says Philip Haberstro, executive director of the National Association for Health and Fitness in Buffalo, New York. Otherwise you’re setting yourself up for failure. Bowling started with a mini triathlon in 2006 (250-yard swim, 10-mile bike ride and 3.5 mile run). This year she completed Ironman Wisconsin (2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile run).
3. Schedule a regular workout time
Some of the most committed exercisers do it every day before the sun comes up or late at night when the kids are in bed. Sit down with your weekly schedule and try to build in an hour each day to be good to your body.