Staying motivated to work out: 10 things you should do

For this week’s #FitnessFriday post, I am going to answer one of the most common questions that receive. “How do you stay motivated to go to the gym everyday?” The answer I always give, is learn to love it. Obviously, this is a pretty broad answer, so I thought I would break it down into the ten things I have done over the years that have taught me to love working out. Staying motivated to work out has barely anything to do with physical ability, it really is all about creating a different mindset.

1. Make a killer playlist

This is honestly probably the most important thing for me that keeps me going to the gym everyday. You know those songs that you just can’t help but dance to? Those are the songs that belong on the playlist. Music can be so motivating whether that be what the lyrics say, or if the music is upbeat and easy to workout to. There are some songs on my playlist that have a really good beat to them, but I wouldn’t dare sing the lyrics because they are not clean AT ALL. I will make a new playlist the night before a workout, and I can’t wait to wake up the next day and test it out. Adding new songs to my playlist is equivalent to getting a new outfit and being excited to wear it the next day. Working out for me is more of a jam session than a workout, which makes working out fun for me! My playlist includes songs from all genres; ones that have a good beat to run to, stretch to, lift weights to etc. You need them all! When I’ve got a good song on, it definitely is a boost of confidence, and adds some pep to my step as I walk around the gym looking like a sweaty tomato. Lastly, the best thing about your playlist, is that it is yours, and no one else knows what is on it. You can do whatever the heck you want with it in order to keep you feeling good. Think about it, there very well could be a giant bodybuilder listening to Justin Bieber because that is what motivates them to do their best. There might be a 12 year old listening to Travis Scott when you probably assume they are the ones listening to Justin Bieber. Your playlist is your own little world.

2. Have a game plan

One of the biggest reasons people stay out of the gym is because they don’t know what the heck they’re doing, and don’t know what they want to do. The night before my workouts, I will come up with a plan for what I will be doing at the gym the next day, as well as a back up plan if I wake up and am not “feeling it.” It is important to have a plan that can be changed! Usually what this looks like for me, is choosing what form of cardio I want to do, and then pairing it with either an upper body, lower body, or full body workout, always followed by my ab circuit. Sometimes, I will even turn to Pinterest and find a circuit to do, then screenshot it so I make sure I do it the next day! With this being said, make a reasonable game plan. It can be so easy to overestimate what you want to do the next day, and this is why it is important to listen to what your body is telling you. There have been several times where I plan to do 30 minutes on the stair stepper, but when I wake up, I feel like I would rather drop a dumbbell on my face than do stairs. It is not fun to wake up super sore, and be so insistent on completing a giant workout. If anything, it is decreasing your motivation to work out. For you planners out there like me, think of this as a mini “to-do” list in your head that you can check off as you complete each task!

3. Make time for it

The number one excuse: “I don’t have time.” Maybe you legitimately don’t have the time for it… during the day. But what about mornings or nights? Yeah, you may not prefer it, but that time is fair game! There have been many times where my day is packed, leaving the only time for a workout to be at 6 AM. Most people look at me like I am crazy when I tell them I sacrifice sleep for a workout, but the motivation that makes me do it, is that I know I am getting one step closer to my goals. Think about it, what is the reason we go to the gym? To reach some sort of goal whether that be changing the way you look, trying to pick up a hottie with a body, or just to maintain your health. If there were no end goal, I wouldn’t be writing this post right now about how to keep going to the gym! The first step in going to the gym, is sitting down and looking at when you can. Add it to your schedule, and by this I don’t mean just make a mental note. WRITE IT DOWN in your planner or in your phone. Psychology says that when we write something down, we are more likely to follow through. Making time for the gym essentially means make time for your goals. Let your goals motivate you enough to drag you out of bed, or pick you up off the couch after work everyday.

4. Lay out your snazzy workout gear the night before

This may not seem like it would do much, but it is actually so important. First, get some cool new workout gear that you are excited to wear. Look good, feel good! I love to show off my new tank top, fun sports bra, bright colored shoes, and lulu gear at the gym. I definitely would not have as much motivation and confidence walking around the gym if I were wearing old gym shorts and a boring white tank top. One of my favorite things to get when I shop is new workout gear, just because I know I will use it a ton! Second, set them out the night before. It is a reminder once you wake up that you are planning to go to the gym. One time I had my clothes laid out, but didn’t work out that day because I didn’t feel like it. Having to pick up those clothes and put them away actually made me feel guilty, and since that moment, I have not missed a workout. It was like letting myself down as I put my shoes back in the closet. Another reason I set them out the night before is because having to choose what to wear right away in the morning is usually one of the last things I want to do. Get up and go!

5. Do what you like

Have you noticed that when you are doing something you like, you are usually better at it and more invested in it? This goes for working out. Now, some of you may be saying you don’t like working out in general, but that is probably because you haven’t found a part of working out that you like! Would you take a math class if you hated math, and there was a whole list of classes you actually liked right in front of you? Probably not. Would you order walleye if you hated seafood when there was all your favorites on the menu? I’m going to guess no. This is the same for working out. If you hate to run, don’t run! If you hate the chest press machine, don’t lay a finger on it! The gym literally has hundreds of other things you could do. Working out is supposed to be fun, so find what things you do like! For me, I love to do HIIT classes, run to my rockin’ playlist, but also, my old gymnastics circuits that make everyone stare at me because it looks like my shoulders are out of socket (that’s part of the fun). You don’t have to choose just one thing, or feel obligated to use every machine in the gym. If you like to run, run. If you like to elliptical and watch tv, do that. If you like to do 300 flights of stairs, all power to you (seriously, you’re going to need some). If you like to walk on treadmill and scroll through your Instagram like I do for my cool down, no one is stopping you! Do what is going to keep you coming back wanting more.

6. Bring a buddy

The nice thing about the gym, is that it is not just for working out. At Lifetime, there are the “regulars” meaning, the people that are there at the same time everyday as me. Because of this, I have made new friends that I work out with. The gym is actually how I met my Little in my sorority! We were always the only ones there at 6 AM running on treadmill, so it made it inevitable that we became buddies (only took me a solid year to slide into her DMs and say hi). Even having a friend there at the same time as me to bike next to or make weird faces at (usually Wyatt), even if we don’t talk at all, makes a workout more motivating. There is no rule about having to be 100% in the zone, by yourself, going hardcore, the whole time. It is amazing how much faster the time goes when I am talking to someone while doing stairs. Every day, I always join my mom on the elliptical just because it is a good way to catch up with her, but also because it is nice to have company while “ellipticalling” as I call it. The other reason why it is nice to workout with someone, is because it creates more accountability. It is a lot harder to tell your workout buddy that you aren’t going today because you are too tired, but by yourself, you can do that and get away with it a lot easier. It is also a lot harder to stop what you are doing and go home, if your buddy is still motivated to keep going. Invite someone that makes you excited to go! It is so nice to piggy back off each other’s motivation, or even complain together about how much your legs burn. On those days where you feel like everything hurts and you’re dying, at least you have someone to be in pain with 🙂

7. Go at your ideal time of the day

Working out has the same effects at any time of the day. There are some rumors out there that working out in the morning is more effective: that just ain’t true. Just like eating a cookie at a different time of day doesn’t change how carbs affect your body (yes some people believe it is different), it goes the same for your workouts. But what CAN change how effective your workout is, is if you aren’t going at the time that feels the best for you. There are two kinds of people: those who love an empty gym, and those who love a full gym. I definitely get a better workout when there are tons of people in the gym just because it is more social facilitation, but also because I am more engaged due to people watching. On the other hand, people like an empty gym because more equipment is available, or maybe because it is less intimidating. There is also the factor of morning and night! I am a morning person, so I have more energy to kill a workout in the morning than I do when I’m basically a sloth at night. It really depends on the person, but go when you have the most energy!

8. Reward system

I used this earlier on at the beginning of my fitness journey because I wasn’t a “regular” quite yet. There is nothing wrong with a little operant conditioning, meaning receiving something for doing a certain behavior (for those who have been following me from the beginning, you’ll remember this from my “10 Things that Prove I’m a Psych Nerd” post). I advise you not to make your reward food related, as that creates bad habits. For me, I rewarded myself with new workout clothes, putting a sticker on my calendar for the days I went to the gym, a relaxing bubble bath, one more Netflix episode…really anything that motivates you! Just like a stray cat will keep coming back if you feed it, you will keep going back to the gym if you feed that behavior in a positive way! Ultimately, your biggest reward will be seeing results and feeling a lot more confident.

9. Remember the runner’s high

Nowadays, the times where I don’t feel like working out, I think back to how I feel after I get done with a workout. There has not been one time I have regretted a workout (even when I dropped a weight on my foot, or tipped over during an overhead squat), but every time I do skip a workout, I regret it because I absolutely hate feeling lazy, and like I’ve left something unfinished. That feeling of regret, is what keeps me motivated on those days where my bed is calling my name after class. Runner’s high is a real thing because physical activity releases feel good endorphins, so I guarantee you, that you will feel great after a workout since it is the body’s natural reaction. Harness that feeling sometime, remember what it feels like, and pull it out of your back pocket when you are lacking the motivation.

10. Stick with it

They say it takes 21 days to make a habit. While I don’t know if that’s true (I’ve also heard 66), I guarantee you that if you stick with it, it will become easier. Once I started to make time for it everyday, and do all the things I have mentioned, going to the gym became the new normal for me. It now has gotten to the point where I actually feel weird if I don’t go everyday. It’s also gotten to the point where my friends will text me to ask me if I am ok if they don’t see me at the gym in the morning as they walk to class. It can be hard to trust or imagine that this will become a habit, but it really does! The days where motivation is running low, but you still go, are the days where you build that habit even more and become stronger. And after a while, you will start to achieve some of your goals; you will see results, you’ll maintain your health, or you will finally talk to that hottie with a body! Because I did all of this, it is now a habit that I have created, and a habit that I absolutely love.

To sum it up, if you want to make going to the gym a habit of yours, you have to love what you are doing, and I found ways to love every aspect of it. I hope this helps those who are on the bubble about joining a gym, are losing their love for it, or it continues to fuel your fire! It is so important to be comfortable with what you are doing, but if you want to reach new goals or start something new, it requires getting out of that comfort zone first in order to get comfortable with it.

Have a fabulous fitness Friday, folks!


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