While many of us hope to find a fitness routine we'll love enough to look forward to more than, say, a night in front of the TV, the reality is that even the most active people dread lacing up their sneakers now and then. You won't physically see results for about two weeks from the start of a new fitness program, but post-workout, your endorphins will soar and you'll feel on top of the world. Keeping your internal motivation surging involves some self-pep talks, long nights pondering nonfat or fat-free yogurt and declining your favorite indulgences. Now is not the time to give up. Keep fighting to complete each workout, and stay aggressive with healthy eating — you are worth it, and you will accomplish your fitness goals. Here are 10 strategies to infuse you with motivation once again.
1. Fitness and Food Tracking Apps
Many fitness apps provide great content and tools to help measure and reach your health and fitness goals — but you need to make sure that whichever app you decide to download helps you stay motivated too. To make sure you are eating the right amount of protein and calories to reach your goals, the free MyPlate App (for both iPhone and Android) makes it easy to track your food and fitness. It also has free 8-week meal plans and workout videos.
Another option on the exercise front is the Gixo App, which provides a live coach to perfect your exercise form and cheer you on throughout your sweat session. Your coach ensures not only that you have a fun and intense workout, but also that you stay accountable. Miss a workout? Your Gixo coach will send you a non-automated text ensuring you'll be in the next class. Need a reminder that your workout is coming up? Your coach will text you 15 minutes before class starts, reminding you to grab your sneakers and get ready to work. The app does not require weights or a gym — only your phone and a pair of headphones.
2. Buddy Up
When you have a daunting task ahead, such as a doctor's appointment or a networking event, it always helps to bring a friend. The same holds true for a fitness class or lifting session: Your best friend, sibling or partner has your best interests in mind and will likely hold you to your commitments. Whether it's daily or just a few times a week, you're less likely to skip a workout if you have a designated time to meet your friend there.
But this strategy isn't totally foolproof. While it can be tempting to hit up your favorite lunch spot after an intense workout, try to find other ways to reward yourselves, like going to the movies or the mall. Also, avoid chatting too much during your workout. You want to maintain focus on lifting and getting your heart rate up so you can see those results. Huge plus if you send your workout buddy a daily inspirational text.
3. Monthly Tracking
A more reliable way to keep tabs on your progress than stepping on the scale is to track your body fat percentage monthly. Know what your target percentage is, and focus on hitting that target. The American Council on Exercise provides a handy guide for calculating your ideal body fat percentage, which you can reference as you decide your goals. Give yourself a specific goal, and once you get there, maintain your physique with steady workouts and a lean diet that incorporates a lot of yummy whole foods. You can track your body fat percentage using the caliper method or bioelectrical impedance analysis. And don't forget to take pictures along the way so that you can see your results.
4. Turn Your Workout Into an Activity
Instead of running on the treadmill every day, try a fun sport or activity that replaces the boring fitness equipment at the gym. Go on an outdoor run on a nearby trail with a friend, or go for a swim at your local pool. There are many fun workouts that can add some spice to your routine, including tennis, paddleboarding, Zumba, basketball and skating. If you look forward to doing an activity, it will keep your motivation charging and get you to your fitness goal before you know it.
5. Audio Motivation
Listen to motivating YouTube videos and podcasts while you exercise to make time fly. There are so many amazing coaches and motivational speakers to choose from, so find your own type of motivation. Some people like aggressive speakers; others prefer an intellectual approach. Whatever it takes, find the person who most speaks to you and let them inspire you to take it up a notch during your next workout.
Read more: The Best Free Podcasts for Healthy Living
6. Tomorrow, Tomorrow
No matter what trials and tribulations appeared in your food diary today, let them go and focus on how you will do better tomorrow. Think about how far you've come, and take each workout and healthy meal as a baby step. Reward yourself each time you reach a small goal, such as losing two pounds, or when you have completed all of your workouts for the week. Take yourself to the movies, or get a pampering massage and facial. Or treat yourself to a new gym outfit!
7. Healthy Commute
Transform your daily commute into a mini workout. Instead of driving, try riding your bike or taking public transportation and jogging home. If there's no public transportation near your work, try parking a mile away and power walk or jog the rest of the way. The more active you are throughout the day, the more likely you are to want to eat healthier foods. And the results will just make you all the more motivated to crush your daily workout!
Read more: 16 Celebrity Weight-Loss Successes
8. Fit Friends
Befriend the fitness crew. It's much easier to make friends with people who already share your interests. Not only will your new spandex crew love working out, but they will also be eating healthier and valuing workout time above other hobbies. Your motivation will skyrocket when you're out to lunch with like-minded people, and you'll have a stronger desire to order the healthier food options on the menu. How do you make these friends? Arrive early to class one day and talk to the instructor. Anyone who sees you chatting with the pro will want to chime in as well. If you can't find anything to say, ask your instructor for some pointers on your form.
9. Make a Playlist
Still hooked on the same playlist you've been sweating to since 2004? Change it up. Go online and look at some of the top songs for energy-boosting workouts. Here's the kicker: Only listen to your updated playlist while you're working out so you look forward to it. You can also post on social media, asking others what their favorite workout songs are or if they know a DJ who can create a playlist for you.
Read more: The Ultimate Summer-Workout Playlist
10. Challenge Yourself
Sign up for a race or fitness event that you can train for, and build up your strength and endurance over time. You'll be pumped to hit your workouts if you have a clear goal in mind. Races are a great way to raise money for charity! You can also train for an obstacle course where you get into serious beast mode and test your athletic ability. Remind yourself each training session why you've got to hustle and not skimp on your workouts — so you can be successful at your event. Give yourself three months to train for the event properly and prevent injury.