Stay in bed or go to the gym? Tuck in on the couch or get to that yoga class? Pretend to be busy or say yes to that walk with a friend? Staying motivated can be tough, but there are ways to refresh your commitment to fitness and it all boils down to dopamine.
Our bodies produce a dopamine spike when we reach a goal, win a game, or receive praise for doing something good. A dopamine spike gives us a positive, satisfied feeling and motivates us to act.
The key is to set up your workouts to consistently produce this feeling so that exercising stays fresh, enjoyable, and produces the results you are after.
Try these 8 ideas to boost your mood and motivation and improve your workouts:
When fitness is something you HAVE to do, you will start to resist no matter how much you want it. But when you reframe exercising in a positive way, such as I choose to work out because of its benefits and how it makes me feel vs. I have to work out because I hate the way I look in jeans/bathing suits, etc., you’ll be more motivated.
Set smaller, more realistic goals with your fitness program. You’re more inclined to work toward a goal if you feel it’s attainable. Instead of one hour of cardio or HIIT (high intensity interval training) every day, try 15-20 minutes of walking and/or running and then build up to longer workouts. Your goals will be unique to you, so avoid comparing your goals and progress to anyone else’s.
Track your accomplishments and celebrate minor victories, like being able to do a full pull up on the bar or jogging for 15 minutes. These daily successes will encourage you to keep going by creating a real positive feedback loop that you can refer to at a glance when your motivation flags.
A small victory at the gym can feel even better when friends and family recognize and praise your success. Don’t be shy to share!
FIND A FRIEND
You’re less likely to skip your workout if you’re doing it with someone else. If you’re a work out “lone wolf”, consider sharing your goals with a spouse, friend, or family member so that they can help keep you motivated and accountable to your aspirations.
TRY A LITTLE FRIENDLY COMPETITION
Working out with someone who’s a bit fitter than you can inspire you to work longer and try harder.
Sometimes you just have to power through. Even when you’re feeling tired or distracted, put in the time and focus on your exercises. Get your workout done and you’ll feel more motivated in general.
MAKE A HABIT OF IT
It only takes six weeks to make fitness a habit. After a while, you’ll begin to notice how great you feel – the post-workout endorphin rush makes you feel stronger, happier and more fit. That feeling of contentment becomes the motivation to work out regularly.
Choose a few of these boosters to spice up your workout routine. Not only will you enjoy your workouts more, you will see improvements which will keep you motivated to try new things and keep coming back to challenge yourself.