One of the things I hear the most on the topic of working out is struggling to find the motivation to even start. Trust me, I’ve been there. I know it may seem like I’m always all about the gym with my overload of gym selfies (sorry not sorry), but I struggle to scrape up motivation sometimes, too.
Today I’m going to be sharing the simple trick I use to get my butt in the gym.
Think about why
There are three rotating reasons that people cite when they talk about why they need to start working out:
I want to lose weight.
I want to get healthy.
I want to gain muscle.
These are all legitimate reasons to want to start a fitness journey, but they aren’t getting you anywhere in the motivation department. All three goals are too vague and can therefore never be reached.
For example, I can say that I want to be healthy. But what does healthy really mean? Does it mean going to the gym three days a week and only eating poptarts once a week, or does it mean living at the gym and never touching food with added sugar?
Same goes for losing weight and gaining muscle.
If I cite gaining muscle as my ultimate goal, what do I really mean? Do I mean I want biceps that are somewhat prominent and a nice quad-hamstring separation, or do I mean I want rippling muscles everywhere? See how unspecific that goal got?
Then, if my goal is to just lose weight, then I’ll never stop because, well I’ll always weigh something.
So you want to lose weight? Well, why? So you can feel better about yourself? So you can feel better about the clothes you’re wearing? So you can feel more confident about yourself?
So you want to get healthy? Well, why? So you can stop feeling lethargic? So you can get clearer skin? So you can have better lungs to run a 5k? So you can live longer?
So you want to gain muscle? Well, why? So can have more push when you run? So you can throw the basketball further? So you can actually serve a volleyball over the net? So you can feel strong?
In my experience, setting goals that have to do with the number on the scale and what my body looks like are not motivating. I find they hinder my performance and desire to hit the gym more than they motivate me to keep working out.
When being a certain size was my only goal, I had zero motivation and ended up being more scrutinizing than ever on my body. Now, I’ve learned to accept my body for what it is, while working for what I want it to be.
Related: My Struggle with Body Confidence
Setting goals that aren’t weight based is my advice. Instead, set goals related to your performance in the gym!
I want to be able to do 10 push-ups consecutively.
I want to run one mile without stopping.
I want to do a pull-up unassisted.
I want to be able to walk up the stairs without getting winded. (Okay I like to say I’m in shape but I still get winded going up stairs.)
Sometimes your heart won’t be in it
And that’s okay.
Sometimes it’s because you need to change up your routine. If you’re dreading that run on the treadmill, then maybe you should try a group fitness class, go for a swim, check out the weight room, experiment with other cardio machines, or take your workout outside!
This is something I used to struggle with a lot, and it really discouraged me. Which is why I had gym phases. I’d be all about the gym for a month, then I’d get so burnt out of doing the same thing over and over again that I gave up and took a month break.
Now I mix up my routine and do different sorts of exercises every time I walk in the gym. Some days it’s spin class, other days it’s the stair machine and lifting. Some days it’s running outside, and other days it’s going hiking.
But then there’s also just burnout.
No matter what classes or workouts you try, you just dread it every time. This is when it’s time to step back and reevaluate why you’re there in the first place. Sometimes all it takes is a good:
“I didn’t walk here in the snow to give-up.”
(Totally used this all the time during the winter.)
Or, more generally:
“I didn’t come here to just leave.”
But sometimes even that doesn’t work.
If you’re really not into it, take a day off. Or a week. Don’t force yourself to run five miles if you don’t want to run five miles. It’s not worth feeling miserable. And it’s not worth feeling miserable if you do decide to skip a day. Everyone has skipped a gym day at some point in their life. It won’t kill you or set you back as far as you think. I promise.
Don’t let your decision to take a break dampen your motivation.
So what drives me? I want to gain muscle so I can do one unassisted pull-up. I want to gain muscle so I can lift more than I did in high school. I want to be able to run a mile in under eight minutes and thirty seconds. I want to be able to run a 5k without stopping so I can sign-up for one.
One Last Tip
Find a gym buddy.
All too often I underappreciated the fact that I had a constant group of people to workout with me in high school. I ran track and always had the same group of four girls to keep me up and running. Then when I came to college I had one amazing friend who would hit the gym with me up to five times a week.
Sadly, I left my distance girls behind when I moved to college and my workout buddy from last year switched colleges.
Suddenly I was working out alone all the time. And boy it is hard! Motivating yourself can be such a struggle sometimes. Which is why I recommend you find yourself a gym buddy.
Even if it’s a long distance gym buddy like me and blogger friend and fellow fitness enthusiast Abigail from Living the Gray Life. She may go to a school that is an eight hour drive away, but we still motivate each other to do our weekly cardio and push ourselves in the gym.
So whether it’s someone actually dancing alongside you in Zumba or it’s someone blowing up your phone with texts to motivate you to do stairs, find someone to get you moving.
What drives you to workout?