"Do not wait; the time will never be 'just right.' Start where you stand, and work with whatever tools you may have at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along," ~ George Herbert
Approximately 50% of people who begin exercising will quit within the first 6 weeks. Fortunately, there are several techniques you can use to not only get you motivated to start working out, but some techniques to stay motivated as well.
Get Your Motor Revin' With Caffeine
Caffeine has been shown to improve physical performance. Pretty much every effective pre-workout drink is packed with the substance. It improves power, endurance, and increases the percentage of calories expended from fat reserves instead of carbohydrates.
With all the proven benefits to exercise caffeine should already be a staple in your supplement arsenal. If you need some quick energy, consume about 200mg of caffeine and see what that does for your ability to get out the door! Recent studies have shown that up to 200 mg of caffeine/ day does not dehydrate you but we still urge you to drink lots of water when working out!
Be The Early Bird
Science has shown us that willpower wanes as the day goes on. Every task we complete and decision we make throughout the day knocks off a small chip of our daily willpower. After an entire day of chipping away at your willpower, your chances of making it to the gym later in the day are much lower than making it first thing in the morning.
After a solid nights rest our cortisol levels are highest early in the morning. Cortisol is highly responsible for energy and motivation.
Group Exercise Classes
Exercise classes are great ways to mix it up for women AND men Yoga is great for the mind and body; cycling classes will have you sweating off the extra pounds, and a variety of choices will leave you wanting more.
Choose your instructor wisely. The class instructor can make or break your success. Are they enthusiastic? Do they take time for individual instruction when it's needed? Do they care to know you on a personal level? If the answer to any of those questions is no; find a better class and instructor.
Get Some New Threads
Everybody likes to look good. So, give yourself an excuse to show off your new gear by getting a workout in. In fact, always keep your gym clothes in pristine condition and never wear them anywhere except to the gym.
This is especially true when it comes to your gym shoes. Reward yourself for working out by spending some money on gym clothes, but get a KILLER pair of shoes and don't wear them anywhere, but to the gym. Experience tells us, when you look good, you feel good and that's going to boost your workout performance.
A Personal Trainer? Yes!
Most people think a personal trainer is out of their budget, but many personal trainers will work to accommodate your budgetary constraints. Most trainers will offer several service packages at different price points. Most trainers can set you up on a workout program, track your progress, help you create a diet, etc. al la carte.
Personal trainers are great motivators for many reasons: First, you know you're going to make maximal progress, second, they are professional motivators (they know lots of tricks to keep you in the gym), and third, if you pay for sessions you don't want to miss them.
Find A Workout Partner
A good workout partner is quite possibly the best motivator you can get. There will inevitably be days when you just don't feel like working out. Every excuse seems like just enough reason not to go, and when you consider ALL the excuses you have come up with; well, a workout today just seems impossible. This is where your workout partner comes in.
An hour before your workout you try to bring yourself to call and give your workout partner all your excuses. As you prepare your spill, you realize how pathetic it sounds. Reluctantly, you put your phone away and head to the gym. The next thing you know, the workout is over, you feel great and you’re so glad you didn’t back out.
Start Off Easy
Probably the biggest mistake made by fitness newbies is excessive effort from the get-go. Almost everyone who starts working out gets a little carried away at first. They show up their first day, full of vigor and determination, and they get a great workout. Unfortunately, that workout usually incapacitates the average person for a couple of days afterward. This is often the end before even getting started.
When you start a new exercise program, ease into it. Make a goal to go most days of the week. Keep your workouts light, social and fun. Light soreness over the next couple of days is a good goal.
Get Social With It
This is a big one! Go to the same gym and try to go on a set schedule. You will eventually end up seeing the same people repeatedly. Eventually, you will strike up a conversation and, "voila!" you now have a new, refreshing and healthy social circle.
Of all the motivators it's hard not to rank this one as #1. Better than a single workout partner holding you accountable is four or five gym buddies who will start calling and giving you a guilt trip if you start skipping workouts. If you develop an established social group at your fitness center, your chance of dropping out will be incredibly low.
Mix It Up Baby
Besides the fact that you should always change your workout every 4-6 weeks to continue making progress; you should also change your workouts to prevent burnout. If you have been focusing on increasing strength through free-weights, start developing your endurance using weight machines.
Not only will changing up your workouts prevent burnout and ensure continued progress, but it will also prevent muscle imbalances and potential injuries. It's a win-win scenario.
Start a New Active Hobby
A 2015 study from the University Of California Merced found that engaging in leisure activities made participants; happier, less bored, less stressed, and lowered their resting heart rates. This same study shows that engaging in leisure activities increases productivity and performance at work.
For many of you going to the gym and working out doesn't qualify as a hobby, but more of a necessity. Ditch that mindset and look outside the box! There are several great ways to be physical and have fun at the same time. Look into: dancing, gardening, walking or hiking, etc. Meetup is a great app to discover groups of physically active people.
Play Games To Ditch The Pounds
If you have kids this could be something great to do as a family. All kids love to run and play. So, challenge them to footraces. Try racing them backward or with a bear crawl or a crab walk. Create an obstacle course and race your kids. Have some Hula Hoop contests. Be a kid again! Have fun and create incredible family memories.
Take a deck of cards to the gym with you. Assign an exercise to each suit in the deck. Draw a card. Do the exercise assigned to that suit the number of times for the number shown on the card.
Track Your Progress
There are a ton of mobile fitness apps currently available for free and some with premium services. You can track your strength building with RepCount which provides for weight-lifting and cardio tracking. You can use platforms such as MyFitnessPal to track your calorie intake, explore your nutrition based on the foods you eat and even track your weight and calories burned based on your daily step count.
If you're not mobile savvy a simple Microsoft Excel or Google sheets setup can be effective in tracking your workouts and general progress. Just remember to make up all-new workouts every 4-6 weeks.
A good first goal should be to engage in moderately intense exercise for about 30 minutes a day, most days of the week. Remember, you can do all your activity at once or you can break it up, throughout the day, into smaller segments of time.
A good weight training and flexibility goal to go along with that would be to do 2 sets of 10-12 reps for each major muscle group 2-3 times/ week. Do ballistic stretches for each muscle group prior to exercise and static stretches post-exercise. Hold static stretches for at least 30 seconds.
Get Paid to Workout
One of the latest and most novel ideas in fitness motivation is apps that are attached to your bank account. These apps track your exercise program adherence and reward or discipline you through financial incentives. If you fail to meet your goals, money is taken out of your "spend" account.
Make up for your transgressions and you often earn your money back. All these apps have different features and some are easier to use than others, but the two that seem to top most lists are, Achievement and HealthyWage. A study in the Journal of American Medical Association has shown the efficacy of these apps.
Listen to Your Favorite Jams
If you love music, a workout is a good opportunity to absorb a good dose of tunes from your favorite artists. Music during exercise has been shown to help enter "the zone" or “the flow state,” which will enable you to perform more work leading to better workouts, improved results, and a more enjoyable workout.
Research demonstrates that listening to music during exercise not only improves performance, but people who listen to music while working out will spend more time, on average, in the gym.
Smartwatches Can Help Boost Your Workout Routine
Smartwatches are all the craze, and rightfully so. They are packed full of cool features; notably, fitness trackers. With these watches, you can get competitive against yourself or compete against others.
These watches would make James Bond jealous. The health applications that are being integrated into these incredible watches already go far beyond measuring fitness metrics, and advances in these tiny boxes with huge abilities, are evolving rapidly.
Leave the Gym If You Want
This is one of our favorite little mental tricks. On those days when you have no motivation and no energy; here's a cheat. Just go to the gym. Don’t set any major expectations for yourself once you get there. Just tell yourself that you are going to show up, do a few warmup exercises and if your still not feeling it; you will go home.
The trick to making this work is to actually allow yourself to go home sometimes. The idea here is that once you start moving you will wake up and get motivated, but this only works if your subconscious knows you are not lying to yourself.
Set Realistic But Challenging Goals
Nothing will kill your drive more than setting unrealistic goals and constantly falling short of them. The single most important goal should be to follow your exercise programs for six months. Exercise program retention doubles if you make it past six weeks when it becomes a habit, and it doubles again if you make it past six months as it becomes a lifestyle.
Realistic and healthy weight loss goals should not exceed 2 pounds a week. Following a protein diet will dramatically increase weight loss, but a majority of the initial weight loss from high protein diets is based on water retention levels.
Imagery; Become What You See (In Your Mind)
Imagine yourself as you want to be. Imagery won’t help you grow taller, but research shows that it might help you get slimmer. The trick is to really focus on what you want to see. Use as much of your senses as possible when imagining this.
This concept has picked up a lot of attention over the last few years. Imagery has been used by famous people to achieve goals, Jim Carrie used it to help him succeed as an actor and Oprah Winfrey is a strong proponent of the idea as well.
Much like imagery, the power of the mind proves itself again. Positive visualization is much like using imagery. However, with visualization, the goal is to use your imagination to recall the positive experiences of exercise. You can think about watching the geese on the lake you jog around or the colors of the changing leaves on the trees around the lake.
Use this technique with your diet struggles too. In one study, people who visualized snacking on healthy foods and came up with a plan to reach for healthy snacks were the most successful at eating healthier