—Rachael T., University of Wyoming
Once you get over the initial ugh, starting a workout program can be pretty exciting—and the motivation tends to come more easily in the beginning. But as time goes on, finding the enthusiasm to continue to work out can be a challenge.
The key to long-term health and reaching your fitness goals is consistency, so it’s really important to be able to motivate yourself to get your workout in.
Here are three ways to stay motivated:
Psychologists identify two factors that help keep us motivated: extrinsic and intrinsic. Keeping a fitness journal or tracking your progress on a fitness app can help with intrinsic motivation, which comes from within yourself and is driven by internal rewards (we’ll get to extrinsic later). Think of how good you feel after you complete a hard workout or reach a fitness goal you’ve been striving for. These feelings of personal gratification can motivate you to continue working out. Write them down in a journal so when you need a little push to get your workout in, you can look back at it for a reminder about how great you feel after exercise.
Rewarding yourself is a form of extrinsic motivation, or incentive driven from external rewards. Think about some things that make you happy or that you consider a treat. It can be anything from a trip to your favorite coffee shop with friends to taking some time out to watch your favorite movie…again. Or something more extravagant, like that new gadget you have your eyes on. Try setting small weekly rewards for yourself and build up to a larger monthly reward. Before you know it, a month will have gone by and you’ll be reaping your reward for finishing all your workouts.
Want to take it a step further? Check out an app called SweatCoin, which tracks your steps and actually “pays” you in “sweat coins.” You can reward yourself with fun things like a new pair of shoes, an Apple Watch, or experiences such as a yoga class. You can also choose to donate your coins to help others.
Extrinsic motivation can also come in the form of goals, in both the long and short term. Long-term goals tend to be something larger, such as training for a 5K, an adventure race, or a specific charity event like a walkathon. To help keep you moving toward your long-term goal, set short-term goals too. These can be anything from increasing your cardio workout time by 10 minutes, increasing your weightlifting exercise by five pounds, or trying a new fitness class.