How to keep yourself motivated to exercise....
When I started to work out in a gym again, after having 3 children, I had weekly goals that were small but reachable. I set out to get at least 20 minutes of cardio each weekday and 30 minutes of weight training. Soon after setting that goal, I saw a study that fat burning with a raised heart rate usually kicked in around 18 minutes. This would be my inner dialogue to go past 20 minutes now, because hey I was just barely starting to burn my fat at 20 minutes. HAH
To do longer cardio sessions I made a music playlist that would push me past what I used to do and it worked. With this action, I started to see faster results which motivated me to continue. My other small goal was to lose 1 pound a week. Some weeks I only lost .6 lbs but told myself at least I was moving in the right direction.
At the end of the month, I would buy myself a new pair of gym shoes or outfit to reward myself.
I kept a daily log of food intake and length of exercises. Around 6 months I had lost more than my goal weight and was having many people notice and saying I was so skinny. This ended up making me realize I knew how to lose weight but where does it stop. Before I knew it I started to sabotage myself by eating processed and sugary foods and gaining weight back. This is when I was deeply grateful that I had kept a food and exercise log. For the first time in my life, I had a blueprint of what worked for me and didn't have to fear going back to my old ways of yo-yo dieting. I had hit 127 lbs at 5'7 and I stayed there until I went back to school and got educated about muscle gaining nutrition.
I also found motivation from many different events in my life after this 6 month period and feel this is what has helped me the most on the days I was tired or emotionally not wanting to step foot in the gym.
The biggest event that happened stemmed from a moment at my sister's house. She has 5 children and 4 of them have heart disease. One day after returning from a long run I was lifting weights outside on her porch. She approached me to ask me if I could maybe go running a little earlier because it was really hard on her kids to see me working out and they could barely walk down the street without the scare of their heart stopping. I had never sat back and thought of how so many are not able to exercise. That made me think of those in the hospital or having disabilities which reminded me of when I was pregnant and high risk and would dream of running, just wanting to be able to so badly. This became my no excuses thought process in my head and has kept me motivated for years. I learned to be GRATEFUL that I had the opportunity to exercise.
I have learned that if I am really struggling to get on a cardio machine and start with the words "thank you" in my mind with each step until I truly feel emotionally uplifted. I have changed my words to "I love doing cardio" instead of "I dread doing cardio". Think of all those that can't step on a treadmill or Step machine and it can help change your perspective that it is something you "get" to do not "have" to do.
I have become so much more educated over the years and read so many books on habit changing and motivation. It all comes down to how you look at things, your beliefs and self talk. This is one of my favorite things to witness in all of my clients when they start to self motivate and can pat themselves on the back.