healthy living

Staying Motivated to Work Out

workout routine

Gyms are packed right now. Those with a weight loss dream are high off the new start of the New Year and are hitting their workout routines hard.  It’s great to see so many motivated people repping it out at the gym, but it’s hard not to feel a little cynical towards them since many of them will fall off the wagon in a couple weeks.

It’s really freakin’ hard to maintain a workout routine.  I’m not gonna lie, it’s NOT easy.  But what’s the alternative?  Letting the pounds pack on as each year passes and just waiting for diseases and illnesses and obesity to take over our body?  Well … that doesn’t sound too fun.

I battled with maintaining an exercise routine when I was younger, yo-yo exercised through college, and finally hit my stride after college (I’m going about 6 years strong now).

As hard as it is to maintain an exercise routine, I always feel SO great after it’s over.  This is the main thing that keeps me coming back for more.  After an excruciating workout, when I’m exhausted and my legs feel like rubber, my head is always clear, I feel grateful, I feel accomplished, I feeling cleansed, and, most of all, I feel happy.

Since I know many people will struggle to maintain their routine towards the end of this month, here are some things that usually get me off that couch and into the gym:

  • The aftertaste.  Everything I listed above is usually enough to get me to the gym.  When I’m really consistent with my workouts, I really begin to crave that feeling I get after I workout.  I usually feel my best right after a workout.
  • Sweat out the day.  If you’re beat, pissed off, or stressed out after a long day of work, it’s easy to want to crash out on the couch.  I’ve gone with this option many times, but I always feel much better if I workout instead.  And at the end of those nights where I park it on the couch, I usually ending up wishing I would have worked out anyway.
  • Avoid the guilt.  If I do end up going with Option B: Parking it on the Couch, I always feel so guilty at the end of the night.  Knowing that feeling of guilt that will come if I still on my butt sometimes helps give me that push out the door.
  • What else are you going to do?  Seriously.  If you don’t have any other plans and if you don’t workout, what are you going to do?  Sit around?  Watch reality TV?  Eat chips?  Yeah, it’s time to go workout. Grab your friends, your jerseys from LacrosseMonkey and some sticks and go play lacrosse outside.
  • It’s good for you!  Of course, the best reason to workout is just because it’s good for you.  It wards off colds and other illnesses, keeps you trim, keeps your heart/brain healthy, and helps you sleep.  If you’re a human being (and I’m guessing you are if you’re reading this), then those things might appeal to you.
  • You want to write a blog post.  No joke.  My BEST ideas for blog posts usually come when I’m running.  Those endorphins seriously help with creativity.  Trouble is … I often forget my brilliant post ideas by the time I make it to the locker room – I should really bring a notebook with me.
  • Fun activity/socializing/people-watching.  If you have nothing else to do, it’s sort of fun just to go to the gym.  Sometimes I just tell myself to go to the gym and ride the bike for awhile and am usually entertained by the people and conversations around me.  And it’s always fun when I see friends at the gym, too.  Or,  you could always take a class and make friends there!

Like I said before, working out is HARD, but it’s better than the alternative of a sedentary, unhealthy, and unhappy life.  I’d LOVE to see more resolutioners make it past the end of January and make working out a lifelong commitment.

How do YOU stay motivated to workout?


Don’t forget to check out my latest post on Lending Tree —–>  It’s Not Too Late: Financial Checklist for the New Year


  • Nice work amber – I’m about to do a short series on how to keep your health related new years resolutions. As for staying motivated to work out, It’s been difficult – I always played sports in high school, so going to multiple practices during the day was just something I did and never really even thought of as a work out – I was just hanging with my friends. Once I got to college that stopped, and I didnt really do much in the way of exercise for about a year, then I started going to the gym with a few friends – they really helped me, because we all held each other accountable (and relentlessly mocked whomever didnt turn up).
    Socializing was great with that group as well – although we didnt go there for coffee hour, it was great to talk to my friends while waiting between sets, etc and seeing whoever else we knew turn up at the gym.
    I dont have a buddy/group to go with now, so I’m trying to stay motivated on my own – its working out ok so far.

  • This is a great post. I’ve done the couch/TV thing after bad days at work and I always feel so guilty afterward. And yes, there is nothing like the after workout feeling, with sweat streaming down your face. Does not look good, but the best feeling in the world. I am going to bookmark your post and come back to it whenever I feel like kipping gym. Thanks for the awesome post.

  • You know, I almost never feel guilty for skipping workouts. I guess I must be super good at rationalizing my decision!

    I have been lucky enough to run outside so far in 2011, but today marks my first day back at the gym. I’m dreading the crowds already! I hope THEY don’t read your tips and stick with the gym all year. 😉

    Thanks for the post!

    • JEALOUS!!! I wish I could run outside this time of year … 🙁 It’s not gonna happen for at least a couple months though.

  • I’m just now getting into the swing of the gym. I kicked it off while I was on vacation the week of Christmas and I’m trying to keep it up. It’s Hard! But you are so right. You feel so much better about yourself when you just do it.

  • @Amber — I am struggling with this big-time right now. One of my primary 2011 resolutions is to get back in shape (I have all the excuses in the book right now….work too much, one-year old baby, travel, etc etc) and I really need to snap out of it. My goal was to workout at 6 am at least 3x per week, but so far I am failing! Help!

  • I think the important thing is to find a workout that you enjoy. If you were an avid team sports player in high school, find an adult recreational team (and, in the off-season, train for the next season). If you like reading and hate sweating, make your stationary bike, treadmill, or elliptical machine your daily reading time. If you don’t want to “exercise” take up something like line dancing or gardening or golf. Weeding 3 times a week may not tone you the way marathon running would, but it’s way better for you than starting marathon training for two weeks a year and being completely sedentary the other fifty weeks.

  • Hey Amber,

    This is my first time on your blog (found you through a list of Yakezie members, and your post hit right home. I’ve forgone the gym routine in favor of working out at home using a combination of P90X and Insanity. Makes it a lot harder to skip a workout when your gym is within walking (a few feet) distance. I still struggle sometimes, but I definitely workout more intensely at home than I ever had at a gym!

    Thanks for reminding it’s time to go do some cardio!


  • @ Amber – I too have some great ideas that pop up during a work out. Here’s a couple of solutions I came up with: 1) if you use a work out journal, write it down in the margins. I know while running it might be difficult to write, but just geting one or two words down will help jog your memory after the run.
    2) I use my iPhone voice recorder. I quickly turn it on, record my thoughts (i.e. buy milk on way home, transfer money to account, etc.), and keep on running. After my workout, I check the recordings when I have a pad and paper handy to elaborate on my ideas.

    @ Mike – My brother was going through these same issues, so I understand its tough with a young child and work to get a work out in. Instead of doing three long work outs each week, do a lot of micro work outs. A micro work out is doing one type of calistetic exercise until failure. for example, as soon as you wake up knock out a set of push ups. Set an alarm for 10am, crank out a set of body squats. At noon before lunch, jumping jacks. 2pm, another set of push ups. 4:30 before you pack it in for the day, do alternating lunges. Once you are home, put your kid in a kangaroo carrier/papoose-thingy and do a set of weighted pull ups (they will love the movement). At 8pm after dinner, sprint to the end of your block 5 times. This is just one day, and you can switch it up every day. By the end of the day you have done 35 minutes of exercises, pumped your body full of endorphins so you work better, and don’t feel crappy about missing a workout.

    (Sorry for the long coment)

    • Awesome comment, Brian!! I am also a fan of the “work out throughout the day technique”. It sure does help if you’re really busy. Plus, it just makes you feel better throughout the day!

  • I can’t really answer the “stay” part of your question, as I’m just getting started! I think having someone that you keep tabs with, either a partner you live with (check!) that works out with you, that can egg you on when you don’t want to go (and then you can return the favor), or a friend that you keep updated on your progress (how many times did *you* go this week?). To be honest, blogging is probably my favorite – and it seems to be working.

    I’ve had a blog about debt for the last 2 years, and it works great to keep me on track with budgetting/spending/etc. I just started a blog for fitness and weight loss, and it’s great! I’m trying to find subjects to post about, I’m reaching out to other people to get traffic, and I’m feeling like it’s a community. There’s a part of me that doesn’t want to let these random, unknown people that I’ve never met, down. I think it’s the accountability.

    Overall, however, I think it’s all about planning. Planning when you are going to gym. Knowing when you’re going to be doing non-gym exercise (skiing, snowboarding, hiking, joining an ultimate frisbee league, you name it). Planning it in your head or on paper makes it that much closer to reality.

    Great post, and great motivation for me. Thanks,
    debtmaven (aka dietmaven).

  • I think there are several key things a person can do to stay motivated to work out. One is setting a goal. With a goal, you’re going to have your mind set on reaching a certain fitness level. Conversely if you don’t have a goal, you’re going to loose focus fast.

    Another thing is having a community. One of the work out I’ve been attending is, which is a group type work out performing the work out of the day. They usually have classes in the mornings or afternoon, but the great part of it all is the people that attend the classes and cheer you on when your doing the work out of the day. I’ve seen some impressive results in my group, which encourages me to do the same.


  • Set a goal for yourself – that always helps me stay motivated! especially with running. Sign up for a race a few months in advance to give you something to train for and once the race is over treat yourself to something like new workout gear or new running shoes 🙂

  • Feeding the emotional mind is always more important than the rational side. You can “know” all the benefits of exercise and all the positive reasons for going to do the thing, but if you don’t have that visceral desire to go do it, you’ll fall off the wagon sooner or later.

    Finding ways to connect with that emotional need — and it’s basically marketing, to yourself — is a great way to look at motivation.

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