Imagining the benefits of hitting the gym for your health, fitness and appearance is fun. However, motivating yourself to actually do the work can be challenging. You may be able to force yourself to get up early, pull on your workout gear and haul yourself to the gym a few times, but keeping it up for the long term takes real dedication.
If you're struggling to motivate yourself, here are six tips to help you.
1. Find some inspiration
Being inspired can fill you with confidence and give you a push in the right direction. It could be a special playlist, a single song, a scene from a movie, a picture, or a simple phrase like "Push your limits". Whatever works for you, try keeping it on hand for when your motivation dips.
2. Sign up to a non-refundable workout class
If you've already paid for your session, and you can't get your money back, you've got a sure-fire motivator to get you out of bed and working your muscles. You'll be surprised how much of a motivator your hard-earned money can be, so make it work to your advantage.
3. Exercise with friends
When you exercise with friends, you get more than just a workout – you get some social time as well. Friends can be a help to get you to actually turn up to a gym session, and they can be a helpful presence while you work out, helping you push harder and have a great time doing it.
4. Variety is the spice of life
When you keep doing the same thing day in, day out, it gets very tedious. When it comes to exercise, it's essential that you add variety to your workouts. The benefits of this go beyond merely keeping your motivation levels high – you will also experience greater benefits from your workouts by putting your body through unfamiliar processes that work it in different ways.
5. Set small, achievable goals
When you plan your workouts, think about taking baby steps. Big results don't come fast when it comes to exercise, and if you set unachievable goals and fail to make them, your motivation and your confidence will take a blow. On the other hand, accomplishing your smaller, more realistic goals is a great feeling that will push you to keep going.
6. Make it part of your commitment to ethical living
There are various elements to exercise that can undermine a person's attempts to live ethically. The drive to the gym, the bottled water you buy, even the clothing you wear. Some brands lead the way for sustainability – Nike, for instance, aim to reduce their products' environmental footprint by 10% by 2020. If you are committed to protecting the environment, use your workouts as an opportunity to incorporate this commitment and your motivation will benefit.
When motivation is lacking, just remember: progress isn't instant. A single workout won't make you an athlete, and a single burger won't ruin you. Just focus on techniques you can use to keep your motivation high and don't be too hard on yourself when you struggle a little.