Faithful to Fitness: 10 Ways to Stay Motivated

March is nearly over — how’s that New Year’s resolution to exercise going? Is your gym membership card still being used regularly?

Starting a fitness routine is the easy part; sticking with the routine seems to be the hard part. During the first few weeks of your new exercise routine, you’re pumped to exercise. Everything’s going great – you make it to the gym every day you planned to, you’re feeling great and full of energy, and you’re wondering why you haven’t done this before … and then BAM! Life happens. Or you don’t see the results you want right away and simply give up.

Yet it is apparent that many people do manage to hang in there. They would no sooner skip their morning workout than their morning shower. What’s their secret? Super exercise powers?

The secret is much simpler than that. First determine WHY you are exercising (for fitness, feeling well and more energetic and weight management, for example) and always keep that in mind. Then, give exercise one more try, keeping these tips in mind:

1. Switch it up and keep it fun. There is nothing that states you have to go to a gym or buy any equipment. Having variety of activities such as swimming, biking, dancing, aerobics and running will help to ensure that you do not get bored, and that regardless of the weather, you are able to do something active.

2. Make it a team effort. Work out with a friend or significant other. It is easy to let ourselves off the hook, but if you commit to another person, chances are, you will not let them down. Even if your partner is out of town, have them call to check in on your progress.

3. Consider it non-negotiable. In order to lose weight or maintain weight loss, exercise is a must.

4. Make it the first activity in the morning. If it is the No. 1 priority to reaching and meeting your goals, then it should be No. 1 on your to-do list. If you plan to exercise in the afternoon and a friend calls to ask you to dinner or a movie, what are you going to do? Most likely, you are skipping the gym and heading to the movie for some popcorn. But there’s nothing that will interfere with you at 5 a.m.

5. Or head directly to the gym after work. If you just cannot drag yourself out of bed in the morning, then the next best thing is to do it on your way home from work. Do not stop at home, because once you go home you are less likely to want to go back out. Take your gym bag with you to work and change into your workout gear at the gym.

6. Just do it, even when you are “too tired.” More than likely, you will leave the gym feeling energized, as you will an exercise-induced euphoria during the activity and sometime after.

7. Write it down. Writing down steps, miles, calories burned, weight, etc., can help us reach our goals.

8. Gauge your progress. This is not just recognized by the numbers on the scales, but also in how your clothes fit, the ability to lift heavier weights or being able to work out longer. Other ways to measure success include getting a good night’s sleep, having more energy, being more productive at work, thinking more clearly, not feeling as overwhelmed by stress, lowering blood pressure or high cholesterol.

9. Go for a walk. Count steps taken in a walk with a pedometer and see if you can increase this number over time. Walk a dog to help stay motivated, which will provide you and the dog with exercise. (Don’t have a dog to walk? The local APL could always use some more volunteer help.)

10. Celebrate your accomplishments! Just because exercise is a good idea for everyone doesn’t mean that you don’t get to reward yourself for reaching your fitness goals. Rewards motivate us to keep going, so decide on a goal and a reward, and get started working toward it. Be sure to make different rewards for different goals: in the beginning goals and rewards should be smaller. Then over time, they can get larger.