Have you ever noticed that on some days it’s easy to motivate yourself to exercise, while on other days even the thought of a squeezing in a workout seems overwhelming?
There are so many factors – including sleep, stress, food, and others – that impact how inclined you will be to get you workout done. Nobody “feels like exercising” every single day, BUT there are ways to get past those feelings to stay active and fit no matter what your mood.
Here are 5 effective strategies for how to work out when you don’t feel like it that have worked well for many of my clients.
Set a Goal and Remember It Each Day
What’s the real reason you want to exercise? Is there something specific that you’re working towards or something that you are aiming to accomplish? Remembering the “why” behind your exercise makes getting it done much more likely.
Here’s a really effective trick: Write down your goal on a sticky note and place it somewhere that you will see each morning. Read it and start your day with your goal in mind.
It doesn’t have to be something big. I actually recommend using small goals that are very achievable. For example, your sticky note might say, “My goal this month is to go for a 30-minute walk 3 times each week.” This is very much within your control (versus a goal like, “I will lose 20lbs this month”, which is not as actionable).
Remember why you want to exercise and use this as your daily motivation.
Get Social With Your Exercise
Exercise is always going to be easier when you do it with a friend.
Imagine waking up and looking at your sticky-note goal: “Today I am supposed to go for a 30-minute walk.” It’s cold outside and you’ve got a busy day planned. Maybe today you’ll just skip your walk and “do it tomorrow” (yeah right!)
Now imagine the same scenario except you have a friend meeting you at the park at noon so that you can walk together. Are you going to show up OR are you going to leave your friend waiting for you? Obviously you’re going to be there – There is a social obligation that reinforces your exercise goal.
Not only will having an exercise buddy help you avoid skipping your workout when you’re feeling unmotivated, but you will also work harder during your exercise when you are doing it together.
Find a friend, schedule a couple regular workout times each week, and use each other for accountability and motivation.
Visualize Yourself Getting Fit
This might sound a little “out there” but visualization is an effective technique that is used by many athletes to help improve their performance. It’s also one that I have my clients implement each and every week.
Athletes picture themselves winning their race or scoring the big goal. Imagining themselves succeed makes success much more likely. The same principle will work for you.
Try this: Close your eyes and visualize what you will be doing in your workout, whether it be running, lifting weights, or participating in a yoga class. Do this for just 2 minutes uninterrupted. What movements are you doing? How does your body feel? What enjoyment or benefit are you getting from the exercise?
This one might take a little practice, but it is a great way to “feel” the benefits of exercise before you even get started. Often the most challenging hurdle of exercise is simply beginning your workout – Once you get going, the rest is easy. Visualize what your exercise will look like and you are much more likely to begin.
Let the Music Motivate You
Think of a song that makes you want to get up and move. When you’re not feeling motivated to exercise, this type of music can make all the difference.
Not only can enjoyable music improve your mood, but it can also distract your brain from the effort of exercise. Research has actually shown that the right music can make your workout feel at least 10% easier!
Create an awesome playlist consisting of songs that have a quick tempo – A faster beat is a good mental distraction and will subconsciously push your body to keep up with the pace of the music. Exercising with the right soundtrack will feel easier, you will end up working harder, and your results will be that much better.
A really challenging aspect of regular exercise is the fact that the end goal (e.g. losing weight, being able to fit into certain clothes, getting stronger, etc.) is far removed from the exercise itself. Seeing results takes time and it can be easy to get impatient and give up.
That’s why it is so powerful to build in rewards that provide instant gratification throughout the process. Treating yourself with a relaxing bath or soothing cup of tea after a workout can be a nice way to recognize your hard work.
It can be tempting to choose food rewards since food is so instantly gratifying, but this is not something I advise even if the food is a “healthy” choice. The pattern of eating a treat after each workout session is a dangerous one that can undo a lot of your hard work.
What other types of rewards would you enjoy after successfully completing your daily exercise? Keep these in mind when you don’t feel like getting started.
There are going to be days when exercise just doesn’t feel like your top priority. Using some simple strategies like these can help motivate you to get moving despite how you initially feel. And remember, nobody ever said, “I really wish I didn’t do that work out” after they got it done!
Which one will you try next time you don’t “feel like” exercising?