How to Motivate Yourself to Exercise When You’ve Lost Enthusiasm

by Ali on March 12, 2008

Most of us have the occasional (or frequent!) day when the sofa seems much more attractive than the treadmill. Gyms thrive on people buying a year’s membership, going religiously three times a week for a fortnight … then never setting foot inside again.

To avoid undoing all your good work, try some of the following ways to remotivate yourself.

  1. Go straight to the gym from work. It’s much harder to get up the oomph to go out when you’ve come home, had dinner and are relaxing in front of the television. If you can, fit a workout into your lunch-hour: you’ll look forward to the break from your desk, and it’s a great way to de-stress.
  2. Mix it up. Perhaps your workout consists of thirty mind-numbing minutes on the treadmill followed by endless repetitions of the same weights each time. Try a different cardio machine. Chat to the staff at your gym and they’ll be happy to show you how to use it safely.
  3. Book an hour with a personal trainer. Some gyms may even offer a free “taster” session: mine did, and I was astonished how much harder I worked with someone standing alongside encouraging me. A trainer will also show you which exercises will help you meet your goals, and will ensure you use the correct technique: the benefits last much longer than that one hour.
  4. Pay for expensive gym membership. Mine is fairly reasonable by London prices (£37.50/month for off-peak membership at Fitness First) but it’s enough that I want my money’s worth. Go for the best gym you can afford – if you join a cheap, grotty gym with ancient squeaking equipment, you’ll hardly be keen to go. And the more you pay, the more you’ll feel a nagging guilt if you skip workouts…
  5. Promise yourself a treat. Maybe some really good chocolate, or a glass of wine – though ideally, make it non-food related! Have something to look forward to after your workout: a long relaxing bath, your favourite dinner, a new magazine or book. (Try The Amazing Adventures of Dietgirl for both inspiration and entertainment.)
  6. Keep an exercise log. I’ve written about this before, but it bears repeating: seeing your progress in black and white really helps keep you accountable. There are many websites which allow you to track your exercise. Or how about encouraging a group of get-fit friends to send emails round every week about how their routine’s been going?
  7. Make it competitive. If you’re someone who thrives on a challenge, find a friend and agree that you’ll both commit to doing three gym sessions a week, every week, for a month. The potential humiliation of giving in and letting them “win” will be a surprising encouragement to exercise. If you can persuade a partner or family member to join you, even better. (This board game might be a fun way to do it.)
  8. Buddy up. If you’re more of a gentle and encouraging soul, rather than someone who enjoys crushing your friends’ achievements into the dust, how about finding a pal to exercise with? It’s much harder to get out of that planned aerobics class when you’re giving your friend a lift…

(Photo above by obo-bobolina)

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