31 Ways to Motivate Yourself to Exercise from Zen Habits…

From zenhabits.com

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“80 percent of success is showing up.” – Woody Allen

Post written by Leo Babauta. .

How do you find motivation to exercise when you just don’t feel like getting off your butt? I ask myself this question every now and then, and I have the feeling I’m not the only one.

A few weeks ago, I wrote 4 Simple Steps to Start the Exercise Habit … and the fourth and final step was to add motivation as needed until the habit sticks. This post is to help you with that fourth step.

There are a million ways to motivate yourself to exercise, actually, but these are a few that have worked for me. And trust me, I’ve had days when I’ve struggled with exercise. Most recently, the things that have helped include finding a workout partner (one of the best motivators!), logging my exercise, reading magazines, books and websites, and rewarding myself.

  1. How you feel after a workout. I always feel great after a good workout. It’s a high. And I let that motivate me the next time: “You know how good you’re going to feel, Leo!”
  2. Time for you. While many people make time to take care of others (kids, spouse, other family, co-workers, boss), they don’t often make time to take care of themselves. Instead, make your “you” time a priority, and don’t miss that exercise appointment.
  3. Calories burned. If you count calories (and it’s really one of the most effective ways to lose weight), you know that the more you exercise, the more calories you burn — and the bigger your calorie deficit.
  4. Having fun. Exercise should be fun. If it isn’t, try a different kind of activity that you enjoy. As long as you’re moving, it’s good for you.
  5. How you’re going to look. Imagine a slimmer, fitter you. Now let that visualization drive you.
  6. Magazines. It motivates me to read fitness magazines. Not sure why, but it works.
  7. Cover models. Sure, they’re genetically freaky, and probably Photoshopped to look perfect. But for some reason, looking at how good a cover model looks helps motivate me to work harder.
  8. Blogs. I enjoy reading blogs about people who are into running, or losing weight. It can show the ups and downs they go through, and you can learn from their experiences.
  9. Success stories. I find the success stories of others incredibly inspirational. If a fitness website has success stories, I’ll almost always read them.
  10. Forums. Do the monthly challenge on the Zen Habits forums, or join another forum full of like-minded or like-goaled peopled. Check in daily. It really helps.
  11. Rewards. If you exercise for a few days, give yourself a reward! A week? Another reward. Do it often in the beginning.
  12. Fitting into new clothes. Wanna look good in a smaller size? Work out!
  13. Being attractive. That’s always a good motivator, as I’m sure we all know. Edited to correct language.
  14. Adrenaline rush. I get a rush when I exercise. Ride that rush to complete the workout.
  15. Stress relief. Wound up after a long day at the office? Get out and work off that stress. It makes a world of difference.
  16. Time for contemplation. I love, love the quiet time of exercise for thinking about things. Most of this post was written in my head as I exercised.
  17. A workout partner. Best thing I’ve done.
  18. An exercise class. Sign up for a class, perhaps with a friend, and you’ll be motivated to get there and work out.
  19. A coach or trainer. Worth the money, just for the motivation.
  20. An exercise log/graph. For some reason, writing it down is extremely important. Really. Do it for a week and you’ll see what I mean.
  21. Your before picture. You often don’t realize how far you’ve come. Take pictures.
  22. A 5K race or triathlon. Just sign up for one, and you’ll be motivated to train.
  23. The dread of feeling “yuck” from not exercising. I hate how I feel after not exercising. So I remind myself of that when I feel tired.
  24. Living long enough to see your grandkids … and play with them.
  25. The scale. It’s not motivating to weigh yourself every day, as your weight fluctuates. But if you weigh yourself once a week, you’ll be motivated to have it keep going down, instead of up. Combine the scale with the measuring tape, and measure your waist.
  26. Reaching a goal. Set a goal for weight, or your waist measurement, or a number of days to work out, or a number of miles to run this week. Setting and tracking a goal helps motivate you to complete that goal. Make it easily achievable.
  27. Posting it on your blog. Tell people you’re going to lose weight or exercise daily, and report to them. You’ll make it happen.
  28. Motivational quotes. I like to print them out or put them on my computer desktop.
  29. Books. I just bought a strength-training book as a reward. It makes me want to hit the weights!
  30. Others commenting on how good you look. When someone notices the changes in your body, it feels good. And it makes you want to work out more.
  31. An upcoming day at the beach, or a reunion. Nuff said.
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2 thoughts on “31 Ways to Motivate Yourself to Exercise from Zen Habits…

  1. I would love you to feature on my blog. Please check out http://www.5thingstodotoday.com and send your suggestions to David at 5thingstodotoday@gmail.com and I will give a link back to your blog from mine. Thank you so much. Enjoyed reading your blog.

    • angelasoelzerragosa says:

      Thanks David,
      I am honored you asked me to join in on your blog and “sure” I’d love to, so I’ll get right on it writing my 5 things to share.

      All my Best for you!
      Angela

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