How to Stay Motivated to Exercise

Exercise doesn’t always go as planned. There will be days (and maybe even weeks) when you simply don’t want to do anything.

This is true even for elite athletes and fitness professionals. But you can dramatically increase the chances of sticking with a routine and achieving your goals with the right fundamentals in place and a solid plan that works even when you really don’t want to work out.

One critical factor is essential to your success: you have to know what you want and why you want it. It sounds simple, but many people don’t have clearly articulated goals, nor have they identified the personal reasons behind those goals. Those aren’t just the surface reasons, but the deeply rooted reasons you want something. If you don’t want it badly enough you won’t be willing to put in the work, especially when it’s inconvenient, hard, or boring.

Knowing what you want and why you want it is the foundation of successful exercise motivation. If you skip this step or don’t take it seriously, you can forget about implementing the rest of the motivation strategies below. They may work temporarily, but your long-term success is less certain. And yet most of the motivation tips and articles you’ll find online leave out this critical step.

Sure, you may want to run a marathon or lose 20 pounds – and those are great goals – but why do you want to achieve them? If it’s just so that you can “get healthier” or “have more energy,” those aren’t very compelling reasons. And in a moment of weakness, those vague goals probably won’t be powerful enough to motivate your exercise habit.

On the other hand, if you want to be the best spouse, parent, or friend you can be; if you want to be able to play with your grandchildren someday; if you want to see what you’re truly capable of achieving in this short life you’ve been given; or if you want to serve others to your utmost ability, then you may have discovered a powerful reason “why” that will carry you through some of your toughest days and help create your inner strength.

Figure this out and write it down. Ask yourself:

  • What exactly am I trying to accomplish?
  • What is my number one, most important goal?
  • Why is this important to me?
  • What will my life be like once I achieve this goal and how will I feel?
  • How will I feel if I don’t achieve this goal?



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