I first made working out a part of my life back during my freshman year of college. It was around age 18 that I realized what my body was capable of achieving. My university’s gym was a welcome respite from the stress of classes and exams. Weights and cardio become a regular part of my routine and it was then that I discovered indoor cycling, something I still love and do today. I guess you could call it my first fitness love. For me, working out is about more than just exercise.
It’s a stress reliever, endorphin rush, a way to prove something to yourself, and a place to be social. Exercise is about feeling alive and about pushing myself to my physical limits. It’s a challenge and one I’ve learned to wholeheartedly embrace.
How have I stayed motivated to exercise over the years? Let me break it down.
How to stay motivated to exercise
If you’re new here, Oui In France is a living abroad lifestyle blog, and a big part of my lifestyle is staying active. That hasn’t changed since moving abroad over 5 years ago.
Staying motivated to exercise has been somewhat easy (all the workouts have not been easy) and I attribute that to what I talk about below. That doesn’t mean I’ve been gung-ho about every sweat session (far from it), but overall, as far as making exercise a lifestyle choice, I’ve been positive about it. One’s health is fragile and I’ve never taken that for granted.
Now if only I could find a way to be as motivated about having a clutter-free house or cooking.
If you’ve made the decision to be active but lack motivation for working out, maybe my tips below will help. Whether you need help on how to stay motivated to lose weight, build muscle, get more fit, or any other fitness goal, read on!
Let’s get to it.
How I stay motivated to exercise:
Find an activity you love
This is the first point on my list for a reason. Like anything, if you hate exercising, you’re not going to make it a priority and you certainly won’t make it a part of your lifestyle in the long term. We’re so much more likely to give up on something if we hate it, so if you hate running, don’t do it! It’s as simple as that.
If you’re in need of help on how to stay motivated to lose weight or lack motivation to work out entirely, it can feel like an uphill battle especially at the beginning so you need to find an activity that you, at the very least, like and can tolerate from Day 1.
There’s no shortage of fun, effective workouts these days, so if you’re not a high-impact person, opt for something a little easier on your joints. If you can’t stand yoga, try something else. If you hate the gym, figure out ways to exercise outdoors or in your home in an environment better suited to your wants and needs. If you find a class or activity you truly enjoy, working out will never feel like a chore.
Don’t ever feel like you have to do what someone else is doing. There is no one right way to stay active. Gyms, videos, studios, the great outdoors, a spare bedroom, and more are all valid. And one of my favorites is the Les Mills app. You can get a FREE 30-day trial here.
Make it a habit
Just hit play on your workout video. Or just get yourself dressed and go to the gym. Getting dressed and hitting play (or going) is the hardest part. If you have good intentions but get too busy later in the day, make working out the first thing you do after getting up in the morning. Once you get started, the workout doesn’t need to be the best of your life if you’re having an off day. Not every workout is going to be a good one.
The important part is that you show up. If you can’t mentally wrap your head around a full 60-minute class, do a 30-minute workout on your own. Is 30 minutes too much to handle? Do a 15-minute circuit instead. Just show up and do something. You might surprise yourself and realize you had more to give than you originally thought and your consistency will pay off.Lack #exercise #motivation? Just show up + try. You prob have more to give than you think.Click To Tweet
After working out, I’ve never once said, “I wish I skipped my workout today.”
You’ll feel better after. The hardest part is getting started. Making exercise a part of your routine — as normal as brushing your teeth — gets easier with time. I don’t let myself make excuses. Exercise is a priority because it’s something I genuinely enjoy and know is important.
I work out for the people who can’t and that fuels me.
As you start to see results, you’ll be more motivated to continue.
Make sure I’m paying money
It’s not that free workouts are less effective. It’s just that I’m a get-your-money’s-worth type of person. If I’m paying for something, I’m more likely to use it to the max. Truth be told, I was the college kid breaking down how much each minute of class was costing and that was motivation enough to not be late or skip class. Really. It’s the same thing for me and the gym.
If I know I’m paying a premium to get my sweat on, I’m going to show up. I hate wasting money period, so if the gym is open, I’m going to make time to fit in a workout. This goes double for fun studios back in the US. I love paying $20+ for a specialty class like PureBarre or Cyclebar. It’s a special treat and I’ll give it my all because I know it’s not cheap!
Get a FREE 30-day trial of the Les Mills app, one of my faves! >>
Have a buddy
On Saturday morning, I go to the gym around 11 a.m. to say hi to one of my gym acquaintances. I make it a point to get there on time so I don’t miss her. It’s just a 2-minute conversation, but I hold myself accountable. I also get to my Tuesday night cycling class early to reserve our bikes.
The sky wouldn’t fall if I didn’t make it to cycling class with her, but it’s something I look forward to. We count on each other. It’s one thing to disappoint yourself, but when you’re responsible for someone else as well, it’s that much harder of a commitment to break.
How my workout routine has changed since moving abroad >>
Think of exercise as a lifestyle must
I view exercise as a “must-do” just like eating vegetables, practicing French, walking the dog, vacuuming, and 100 other things. Exercise is pretty high on my list. It’s not a sometimes thing I do when the weather is nice or when the urge strikes. Or when we want to look good for a special occasion. Or only when we have a few pounds to lose.
For me, working out is just a normal part of everyday life. It’s been one constant I’ve clung to in all the chaos of living abroad. And most of my workouts aren’t 10/10. I get it done though.
Vary the intensity
This is major when it comes to staying motivated to work out. It’s not about killing it every single time and working until exhaustion. If I go hard at every workout, I’m going to get injured and/or burn out. For me, balance is super important. Not all workouts are high intensity. Sometimes I need to take it easy and I let me body lead the way.
Other times, I know I need to push myself to my max. To stay motivated and keep showing up, I have to switch up my effort level. It’s essential for recovery as well. After an easier workout, I know that I’ll be rested and ready to hit it hard at my next session.
How to get a killer deal on your gym membership (from someone who used to work at a gym) >>
For me, sometimes that treat is a hot bath after a hard sweat session. Maybe I’ll grab a new bath product or shower scrub. Maybe I’ll treat myself to a new outfit once in a while. Perhaps it’s a delicious meal at that new place down the street that just opened up. No matter how you do it, I think it’s super important to reward yourself for your efforts.
If you’re having trouble figuring out how to stay motivated to lose weight or lack motivation to exercise in general, set up a milestone treat once you’ve hit the metric you’re aiming. Celebrate milestones and staying on track because our days are meant to be celebrated. Otherwise, life can get monotonous. We have one body, so let’s treat it right.
So there you have it, that’s how I stay motivated to exercise. What about you? Do you have any tips on how to stay motivated to exercise or reach a particular fitness goal?
PIN my how to stay motivated to exercise post:
Jessica P says
Exercise has been a blessing for me living abroad. I was always in sports during school but between graduating and moving to Italy I basically did nothing lol. It wasn’t until moving to Belgium (my 4 year living abroad) that I took up running. I needed a way to get the angst I was feeling out and have a purpose beyond being a trailing spouse. 10 min jogs around a park where I thought I was going to die turned into me running a marathon in Ireland, running races in Paris that finish at the Eiffel Tower, running variosu half marathons in Brussels, Italy and the US. Getting running partners (my dogs) also keeps the motivation high. As a side benefit from the running I am now familiar with the various crops that grow in my region (sugar beets, corn, potatoes lol)-feels like I’m in touch with the outside world by working out in it everyday lol. Putting your money on the line is a great motivator too like you said. Since I don’t go to a gym I do stepbets and runbets where you bet money ($40-$60) for a game that gets put into a pot with other players bets. You have to hit certain step goals and if you do you end up
Winning your bet plus a profit. I won $30 profit in one game so that keeps me lacing up my running shoes lol
You’ve brought up so many good points, Jessica. Exercise does make me feel like I have a purpose and am on track. For what? No idea, but I feel better when I exercise, even if it’s just my dog walking routine. It gives me purpose. No one would care if I stopped showing up at my gym, but again, purpose.
And so great to hear that you transformed into a runner! That’s one activity I’m terrible at and never really do. I can do a mile warmup but beyond that, I just could never get into it. Money really is a great motivator. I love that with technology there are so many opportunities online to compete and win. Brings out our competitive side.
Thank you for your thoughtful comment!
Jo-Anne the crazy lady says
Sometimes the hardest thing to do is get started, once we start it should be easy to continue, each morning I drag my tired and sore body out of bed and exercise
Good for you, Jo-Anne! What’s your favorite type of exercise?
For me it’s clearly being in a studio/class setting. I HATE going to the gym just to use machines alone, no matter how nice they are (with a TV for instance). I feel good exercising with people and I love being told what to do because instructors (good ones, anyway) spice up routines and teach new stuff!
Yah, I don’t ever use cardio machines – BORING! Totally with you on that. I’m a big group fitness fan for all the reasons you mentioned. What’s your favorite studio/activity in Canada?
Pamela Joa says
Great article. it’s nice to see what other ladies have to say as well on the comments. From my clients’ feedback, there is one thing that keeps coming back…and that is that paying a personal trainer has helped them get motivated. The fact that they are paying , like you mentioned in one of your points, helps them commit to exercising more than if they would be doing it on their own.