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How to Make Yourself Exercise When You Don’t Want to

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Gina Harney - Blogs
By Gina HarneyCertified personal trainerDecember 20, 2018

I think we all know the feeling. We know we should work out, but what we really want to do is relax on the couch. And sometimes… the couch wins.

Motivation can be a tricky beast. Even when we know that exercising would be in our best interests, sometimes we need to give ourselves a little pep talk to just do it! I thought I’d share some of my favorite motivational strategies:

  • Think about your “why.” Why do you want to work out? Is it to be stronger? Maybe it’s to decrease body fat or increase lean muscle mass. Maybe it’s so you’ll have the endurance and energy to play with your kids without getting fatigued or injured. Sleeping better at the end of the day is another huge one. Take a couple of minutes to think about your reason for cultivating a fit and healthy lifestyle. For me, my huge reason is that it makes me a better person! I have so much more energy, patience, and focus when I take some time to sweat.
  • Think about how you’ll feel when it’s over. When I’m debating getting in a workout, chances are that I’m feeling a little blah. When I remember how energized and accomplished I’ll feel if I just go for it, it’s just enough to get me moving.
  • Give it 5 minutes. When I really don’t feel like working out, I set a timer for 5 minutes and get started. I tell myself that when 5 minutes are over and I still don’t feel like working out, I’ll stop. 100% of the time I want to keep going. Often it’s simply a matter of getting started.
  • Assess your workouts. If you’re not feeling motivated with your routine, there’s a good chance that you’re forcing yourself to either do too much or do something you don’t necessarily enjoy. The treadmill is a great example. If you hate the treadmill, there’s no way you’ll feel motivated to get on there and press start. So, ditch the treadmill! Do something else you love for cardio, like walking around the neighborhood, taking a dance class you love, spinning, boxing, etc. There are so many fitness options out there – choose one you truly enjoy and you’ll be way more likely to get it done! Also, make sure that your fitness plan is balanced and includes at least 1-2 full days off each week. When you’re overtraining, it’s very hard to feel motivated because your body is telling you it needs a break.
  • Set small checkpoints and treats for yourself along the way. I’m a huge believer in rewarding yourself for consistency! Set monthly goals (like “I’m going to work out 3x a week for the entire month”) and when you hit your goal, treat yourself to a new workout top, pair of leggings, massage, spa treatment, or something to congratulate yourself. It doesn’t have to be anything huge; just something to acknowledge that you put in the work and have remained consistent.
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About the Author
Gina Harney

Gina Harney is the blogger behind the healthy lifestyle brand, The Fitnessista, which reaches millions of viewers all over the world. She’s been featured on Greatist, Forbes, Buzzfeed, Shape, Fitness Magazine, and Well + Good. She’s the author of “HIIT It!” and the voice behind the Healthy In Real Life podcast. She lives in Tucson, Arizona.

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