People find many ways to stay focused and motivated in order to exercise. Some motivational methods are more successful than others. The trick is to find out what works for you.
Motivation can also take many forms. I will be concentrating on intellectual motivation, emotional motivation and behavioral motivation. The key to finding your own motivational tool to exercise is to try more than one. Reaccess your tools when there are changes in your lifestyle or if your motivation declines, and if you need to, recreate your own motivational tools.
I have provided some tools here; try them on for size and see which one fits best.
Behavioral techniques focus on setting up a behavior for success. Through time management, you can set aside a specific block of time to exercise that work best for you and stick to it. We tend to adhere to set appointments rather than random promises. Mark the classes you want to take on your calendar, put them in your organizer, and workout with a friend so you rely on that date. Lay out your exercise clothing the night before. By actually viewing the clothes, you're reinforcing that the behavior is in place and is harder to back out of. Place class schedules in plain site. The refrigerator is often a good location, and it may keep you away from the ice cream too.
Intellectual techniques also work well. By reading articles about the health benefits of exercise, you are reinforcing your motivation and belief that you are doing something important. Keeping a chart, journal or exercise diary validates and confirms that improvement is indeed happening or not. Recording your measurements and fitness regime will help you see your activity level, help you keep focused, and give you a chance to reevaluate your workout.
Emotional techniques are probably the most popular. We react when we feel disenchanted with the way our body looks or responds. Mondays are known as "guilt day" in the fitness business and is often the busiest day of the week because of those feelings. A photo of you or favorite model on the refrigerator always comes to mind as a key emotional aid to motivate. Clothing is also a good emotional indicator and can spur anyone to the gym. Try on your clothing in a full length mirror, does it fit like you want it too? How about trying on a bathing suit? Are you happy with your appearance? This is usually a sure fire way to jump start a person who has stopped exercising for a while. Although it can be a cruel slap in the face, sometimes it is what we need!
On a more positive note, exercise can also be fun! Choose activities that make you feel good. If you are competitive and enjoy other people's company choose sports as your form of exercise. Sign up for a tennis program, a basketball league, or a pick up game of soccer on the weekends. Make exercise a social event. Go running with a friend, sign up to compete in a local race, or plan fitness outings like hiking or trail riding. Group exercise classes at a health club offer a social environment as well. In a group exercise class you are having a very social experience with 20 or 30 participants, while in a supervised time committed exercise program. The group exercise instructor aids in driving your motivation, adherence, and performance, and challenges you to new levels. Try and focus on how good you feel after the workout both emotionally and physically rather than focusing on the feelings you experience before you go to workout.
Most importantly, find exercises that appeal to you and that you enjoy. If you like the outdoors, find activities that can be done there. If you like being with people, join a gym. If you prefer working out at home, hire a personal trainer to help you set up a program, monitor an existing program, or aid in our weekly workout sessions.
Begin a program slowly and progress at a comfortable rate. This way you will experience success as you exercise rather than failure (a sure way to deflate motivation.)
Try some of these tips together or one by one. Exercise is the single greatest thing you can do for yourself and your health, I'm sure you feel you are worth it!