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Key Ways to Motivate Yourself to Exercise and Lose Weight

author image Kathryn Walsh
Cooking, travel and parenting are three of Kathryn Walsh's passions. She makes chicken nuggets during days nannying, whips up vegetarian feasts at night and road trips on weekends. Her work has appeared to The Syracuse Post-Standard and insider magazine. Walsh received a master's degree in journalism from Syracuse University.
Key Ways to Motivate Yourself to Exercise and Lose Weight
Try to exercise for 15 minutes every day.

Getting yourself to lace up your sneakers and get moving is half the battle to losing weight. Once you get yourself motivated to start a new regime, it will be easier to keep it going and reach your goal. Keep a positive attitude even when results don’t come as quickly as you’d like, because getting down on yourself may make it easy for you to give up.

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Have a Plan

Nothing motivates you faster than having a goal. You know losing weight is a process; and depending on the amount you want to lose, it could be a lengthy process. Having clear short-term and long-term goals will make that process more exciting. Once you define what you want to achieve and when, write those goals in a notebook or on the computer. At the beginning, especially if you've been away from a regular exercise program for awhile, you should set weekly goals and one ultimate goal. Use your notebook or an online fitness tracker to record your workouts as well. Record your daily exercise; the type and duration. Take your measurements and weigh yourself before you begin; and note those figures down as well. Do this at the end of every week and within about two to four weeks you’ll start to see changes in those numbers. You’ll be losing weight or inches and it will start showing in the numbers.

Write a Schedule

Scheduling exercise into your daily routine means you won’t be able to use the “I have no time!” excuse. Each night, write out the schedule for the next day or key it into your cell phone. When doing so, be realistic about how long everything takes you, so you will not find yourself squeezed for time. Write exercise into the schedule, whether it’s a 15-minute walk during your lunch break or a stop at the gym on the way home. Keep the schedule with you and look at it throughout the day. It will be harder to skip an exercise session when it’s written down.

Intrinsic Motivation

Make this about your health as much as your appearance. You may be young and have not yet experienced the vagaries of age, but they will come. Setting an intention to exercise and lose weight for your health, means committing to a lifestyle change. Getting enough sleep, eating healthily and exercising are habits that you should embrace for the rest of your life. Intrinsic motivation has been proven to work better over the long term rather than using the reward system. If you lose 10 pounds and want to treat yourself to something special, there’s nothing wrong with that. But that kind of pleasure is fleeting. It would be more motivating to train for an event like a half-marathon or charity walk-a-thon, where the rewards will be more long-lasting.

Make It Fun

The surest way to motivate yourself to exercise is finding a way to enjoy it. To make walking, running or using a gym machine fun, listen while working out. Download podcasts and radio shows about topics you enjoy, or borrow recordings of your favorite comedians from the library. Borrow audio recordings of books by your favorite authors and let yourself listen to a new chapter only while you’re exercising. Taking a new class can also make exercise fun. Sign up for figure skating or synchronized swimming for a change in your normal routine.

Choose a Buddy

When you make a workout plan with a friend, you’ll have someone to support you along the way -- and someone to hold you accountable. Ask a friend who you know wants to lose weight to team up with you. Choose someone who you get along with well and who’s at a similar fitness level. Make plans to meet at the gym or to go for walks. When you don’t feel like exercising, you’ll be motivated to get up and go anyway because someone’s counting on you. This is ideal if you find exercise boring, because you’ll have a friend to talk to the entire time. Go grocery shopping together and discuss what you eat each day so you won’t be tempted to make poor food choices.

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