Sticking to a workout plan is difficult. Life gets in the way whether that be in the form of work, exhaustion, holidays, socializing or pure burnout. It can be difficult to motivate yourself day-in and day-out to get out of bed and push yourself or to hit the gym after a long day at work.

Today, I want to discuss with you some research results that have been circulating in the past few months. It just so turns out that there are a few simple steps and adjustments we can take to ensure that we do stick to our training routine. I’m going to go through these with you below:

  1. You Must Feel Competent About Working Out

    In order to enjoy the gym (or even want to go there in the first place), you need to feel like you belong there. Nobody wants to be ‘that’ girl or guy at the back of the gym class struggling to keep up, or the person in the gym who can’t use the machines properly. In order to enjoy the gym and want to go workout there, we need to believe that we are ‘good’ at exercise. This is crucial.

    Maybe for some people this might mean joining a beginners running group or getting some private personal training or attending the gym with a friend who is a regular gym-bunny and learning from them.

    Anyone can be great at exercising, it just takes practice like everything else!

  2. You Must Feel Connected to Others at Your Place of Exercise

    Whether you workout in a gym or run in a park, the chances are a lot of time you are going to be surrounded by other exercisers who can either intimidate or motivate you. Why not ensure the latter and be motivated by others instead of put out by their presence. Get to know others who workout in your gym or in the same park as you. Once you have developed relationships with these people (even if it is just to say hello and create small talk) they will seem much less intimidating and you may even find yourself a nice workout partner.

    Also, once you’ve developed relationships with those who workout in the same destinations you do, they will be expecting to see you. If you don’t show up to workout for a few weeks in a row you will have to answer the ‘where were yous?’. This will motivate you to show up!

  3. Find a Workout Partner/Workout with your Significant Other

    Having a workout partner really is an excellent resource to get you up and moving every day. I work out with my fiancé every morning and it works wonders for us. Some mornings I don’t want to work out but he will make sure I do and I return the favor on the mornings he is feeling lazy. It’s all about give and take!

    Grab a friend, a partner, someone in your office who also goes to the gym before work or at lunch time or a sibling and commit to working out together 3 or 4 times a week. Not only does it motivate you to work out more, it also makes the workout a lot more enjoyable and sociable.

  4. Mix it Up!

    Make your workouts fun and varied. We, as humans, need change and variety in order to stay motivated. You’re not going to want to go and do the same workout in the gym every single morning. That’s just downright boring!

    Sign up for gym classes; zumba, yoga, circuit training or pole dancing classes. Try something different. Not only will this make your workout a lot more interesting but it will also ensure you use different muscles than usual and get a super workout!

    Gym classes or running groups are a great way to meet new people and can be amazing for your psychological and emotional well-being as well as for your physical health obviously. Find activities you look forward to doing and that you’re excited about. Mix it up!

  5. Find Support in Friends, Family, Partners or Online

    Find a friend who enjoys an activity you also enjoy and sign up for something together – whether it be yoga classes or a marathon. Make the whole ordeal of exercise a fun, new, social activity that means you see your friend/family member once, twice or three times a week.

    Also, join an online fitness group: Instagram, My Fitness Pal or Livestrong are just some examples but there are thousands of choices and it’s a fantastic way to gather support and stick to your goals. If you make your goals public knowledge and others are following your progress, you’re less likely to fail because you’ll be letting your supporters down!

  6. Sign Up for a Distant Race

    A great way to stick to your fitness goals and feel motivated is to sign up for a 5k or 10k race – or a half or full marathon if you feel up to it. Do this with a friend, partner, gym acquaintance, running group or anyone at all really and the key here: Sign yourself up for a race that’s hundreds of miles away!

    Why? Well, this makes the challenge in to a holiday! It should be somewhere that you really want to visit and there just ‘happens’ to be a race on there that weekend.

    If you do this, your exercise will be working toward a goal that’s not only going to be incredibly rewarding to your physical health but also your psychological and emotional health (and social health) because you get to go on holiday with a friend! The extra incentive will also be that you’ve PAID for this… A flight or train fare, a hotel room, etc.

  7. Start with the Bad and End with the Good

    Everyone has some exercises that they just hate doing – for example I’m not the biggest fan of working out my back. Tip for this: Start with the exercises you dread and then they’re over and done with.

    Leave your favorite exercises to the end and this will encourage you to finish your workout session.

  8. Avoid Exercises you Hate

    If you hate running, don’t run. If you hate weights, don’t do weights. If you hate yoga, avoid it like the plague. There are SO many options for exercise routines. Find one you like and focus on it. Personally I love the P90x workout videos. They are 30 minutes of intense physical activity and every day is different.

  9. Have a Visual Winning Streak

    Another little motivator for me is the calendar on my wall. Everyday that I work out (whether it’s a 10 minute abs session or a 45 minute run) I mark an ‘X’ on the date on my calendar and for months now I’ve had X’s on 90% of days. If I miss a day and therefore end up with a gap on my calendar, it really annoys me! Everything is out of sync.

    Have a visual motivator like this and don’t miss a mark. Create your own winning streak!

  10. Change your Perspective

    The last but probably most important point here is to change the way you think about yourself when it comes to fitness and health. Shift your thinking from ‘I’m so unhealthy / unfit’ to ‘I am a budding athlete’.

    Psychological perspective is everything and it’s really where we all need to start. The first thing to change is your attitude and your perspective and everything else will follow.

    See yourself as the person you want to be and start being that person NOW. If your mind believes you are changing for the better, your body will follow.

So there you have it – ten tips to get your from couch potato to health-crazy gym bunny! Give them a try, you never know what you could happen!

Thanks for reading.

Megan O'Neill

Megan O'Neill is a musician, psychologist, nutrition advisor and an absolute health-nut! She currently resides in London, but - as you may have guessed from the name - is originally from Ireland. Six years ago, following an incredible trip to Asia, she suddenly became very ill with IBS, food intolerances and chronic fatigue. No-one could have predicted how that fateful trip would... Read More

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