Healthy Tidbits

With You All The Way

7 Ways to Find Your Motivation

Mar 03, 2017

We all know exercise is essential for health, but sometimes finding motivation to make fitness a part of our daily routine is a struggle.

Sound familiar?

You’ve probably heard it said that it takes doing something for 21 consecutive days to create a habit, but it’s not always that simple. Are you still motivated on day 25 when it’s cold and rainy outside and you’d just rather stay curled up on the couch?

The good news: it is possible to create new, healthy habits in your life, but it takes real effort and some creative thinking along the way. Here are seven tried and true methods to help you get motivated to work out.

Reward Yourself — It’s human nature to be motivated by rewards. The brain latches onto a reward, making the link that a particular behavior is worthwhile, increasing the odds a routine becomes a habit, says Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Love and BusinessOver time, your brain will begin to recognize exercise as reward enough, as physical activity triggers a surge of endorphins, a.k.a. “feel good hormones.” Hint: be sure you’re choosing non-food rewards so they don’t become a hindrance.

Don’t Put Away Your Gear — We use visual cues to wake up our brain and remind us to complete important tasks in every day life. Why not lean on visual cues to help keep exercise at the forefront of your mind? Keep your sneakers and exercise gear in plain sight so forgetting to exercise can never be your excuse.

Be Accountable — Don’t allow yourself to live in a bubble. Verbalize your health and fitness goals to family, friends and your community on social media. Post your exercise routines on Facebook or Instagram as a means of chronicling your progress. You might be surprised who will follow your progress and notice when you’re slacking off.

Find a Buddy — When you have a pal who is counting on you to meet him at the gym, you’re less likely to skip your workout for the day. Find a buddy with similar goals, or start attending exercises classes at your gym and make new friends. Consistent workout partners can become a tight-knit support group, and these are the people who will hold your feet to the fire when you’re lacking in the motivation department.

Sign a Contract — Create a contract between yourself and a buddy that outlines a penalty you will owe — monetary or not — if you don’t follow through. Studies show that people who sign longer contracts are more likely to exercise than those who agree to shorter durations. “We have to get past the initial experience of displeasure in order to recognize the longer-term benefits,” says Jeremy Goldhaber-Fiebert, PhD, assistant professor of medicine at Stanford University who studies health decision science. “The challenge is designing tools to help make that happen.”

Identify What’s Holding You Back — Thinking positively and visualizing the outcome is only one piece of the puzzle. You must also identify what’s holding you back. In one study of 51 female students who claimed they wanted to eat fewer junk food snacks, researchers asked each woman to imagine the benefits of nibbling on better foods. Those who were able to identify what was holding them back from making healthier choices, and devised a plan to reach for fruit when cravings hit were most successful at sticking to their goal.

Get Paid — Let’s face it: money talks, and believe it or not, there’s even an app that will pay you for working out. Pact helps you earn cash for healthy living. The catch is that you’ll pay up if you don’t stick to your goals. If you miss a workout session, you authorize the app to charge your credit card or PayPal account. When you reach your goal, you get paid out of a pool funded by community members who break their pacts.

If it’s your goal to make physical activity a priority, the first step is simply to start. Find an entry point into exercise, whether it’s joining a gym or workout group or watching fitness videos on YouTube. Take the leap and then build habit by employing these tips and tricks to help you stay motivated.