On My Fitness Motivation

I would say the #1 thing I get asked by blog readers is how I stay motivated to work out as much as I do.

I guess first and foremost my answer is that I love it. I truly, truly do. To me, there is no feeling in the world like the one I get after finishing an especially sweaty hot yoga class, conquering the giant hill on my bike ride home or finishing a solid 6-mile run. I crave the way I feel after a workout; hot, sweaty and completely worn out. I love signing up for races and new, big goals and working towards them. I really do.

All that being said, there are of course times when I do not feel motivated. At all. And I’d rather spend my evening on the couch or my morning sleeping in. Here are some of my top tips for staying motivated with your fitness goals!


Find something you enjoy

If you don’t love running then why do it? Find an exercise that you truly enjoy – and look forward to – doing. I was driving to the yoga studio on my lunch yesterday and thinking about how I really do love going to yoga or for a run. I don’t go to these things full of dread, I look forward to them!

Sign up for classes

When I first lost weight and got really into working out I was a gym rat. I loved the classes offered at the gym. Step classes, weight lifting classes, spin classes. You name it. Knowing that a class was happening at a certain time so if I didn’t get there in time I would miss it was huge motivation for me. I also signed up for a 6-week, 3x/week bootcamp in January 2008 when I started counting calories. I think that helped me immensely because I had committed – and paid – for the six weeks.


Workout with friends

This is actually a tip I only recently started using in my own life. I used to be a very solo gym-goer and I trained for my first half-marathon and my marathon almost entirely on my own. Recently started doing 90% of my running/workouts with a friend or a group. Let me tell you, it is SO MUCH MORE FUN. If you’re going to be going for a run anyways, why not tag along with a friend so you can catch up? Also, I can’t even tell you how many times the prospect of meeting a friend for a run has got my butt out of bed at 5:00 AM.

Fake it till you make it

Get up. Put on your workout clothes. Drive yourself to the gym, or pool, or running trail. I don’t care if you don’t feel like it. Do it anyways. Tell yourself you’ll only workout for 30 or 20 or 15 minutes if that’s what gets you there. 9 times out of 10 you’ll feel better once you get your workout started and if you don’t? At least you put in a solid effort and got 15 minutes in. 15 minutes is better than 0 minutes.

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Focus on the end goal

Did you sign up for a race that you now have no motivation to train for? Think about how you’ll feel on race day if you don’t train properly. You’ll feel crappy and defeated. Not every run or workout is going to be enjoyable – that’s just the way it is – but accomplishing your goal? Finishing that race you signed up for and feeling strong? That will be enjoyable. That will make every miserable run where you had to force yourself out of bed worth it.

More of an instant gratification person? Think about how you’re going to feel at the end of the workout. You never regret a workout you do and you always regret a workout you miss. Enough said.


Question of the day: How do you stay motivated when it comes to fitness?

28 Responses

  1. Becky says:

    I email my fitness guru 🙂

  2. Heather says:

    I am most motivated when I workout with someone. I know i should rely fully on someone else, but it is much more enjoyable when you can talk, push and cheer each other on.

  3. Great post! Here is how I stay motivated:

    1. Have an accountability partner (mine is you!). Don’t have someone local? Obviously it doesn’t matter as it’s worked for you and I do this for each other whilst living 1,000+ miles apart!

    2. When I don’t want to workout I tell myself, “You will always regret not doing a work out, you will never regret doing a work out, so get your butt out there.” 🙂

    3. Sign up for a race. I NEED to have something I am working towards.

  4. I love my solo workouts, but definitely suggest working out with friends once or twice a week. If anything, it’s just a way to switch it up! Plus- you know you have to go and can’t leave them hanging… 😉

  5. Having a goal definitely makes me stay motivated. If I have a goal, I think about how much I’ll feel like I let myself down if I skip a work out. I want to get to the finish line of a race (or to the end of another goal) and know that I did everything in my power to set myself up for success.

  6. Great advice all around 🙂 I really do believe you should be doing something you like because forcing yourself otherwise just takes too much energy to motivate yourself all the time. I love soccer and it’s what made me realize how much I enjoy running as the two pretty much go hand in hand.

  7. Caroline says:

    Awesome post! I really believe the key to sticking with it is finding something you truly enjoy. I stay motivated by playing all types of mind games. I also work out early in the morning, before I’m even awake to realize what I’m doing : )

  8. lisa says:

    i totally agree, especially with finding something you love to do. if you don’t love it, it’s very very difficult to get up early or head out when the weather is yucky or whatever

  9. Ris says:

    This is such a great post! Here are the ways I motivate myself:
    1. Always have a goal to work towards, be it a race or a pair of jeans. It really helps!
    2. Be prepared to have good days and bad days. The good days keep me going and the bad days make me want to get out there again and do it over again, better.
    3. I think about my health and body, and how the choices I’m making will positively effect the rest of my life. This is always enforced when I go to the doctor and have a really low resting heart rate or a great blood pressure!
    4. Read awesome blogs like yours that make me want to try new things and push myself!

  10. Leigh says:

    Those are all great tips Amber! Sometimes I really don’t want to do my run, but I get out there and realize, hey, this isn’t so bad after all! My biggest motivator is signing up for races. There is no way I am going to waste $60+ that I spent on a half marathon and not train for it!

  11. Nora says:

    My favorite one is “fake it til you make it.” I have done that more times than I care to admit but once I start working out, I keep working out. The 15 minutes turn into 30, sometimes 45 or longer. It’s a great feeling. One thing I miss the most about where I live now… there is no gym close by at all. Closest one is about an hour away. Fortunately we have a treadmill, flat roads (which is good for my stupid knee) and I have Jillian, so I make it work, but I miss the gym. SO MUCH.

  12. Jamie says:

    I had to grin when I saw the title of your post this morning… since I have been lacking motivation lately! Well.. I don’t know if I would call it motivation because I am motivated to train because of the tri but I am having troubles following through on the mornings lately.. so thanks for this post! It is JUST what I needed to hear. I did drag my butt out this morning for a bike 😉

    I also agree about training with other people. I used to love going solo for runs, etc. but now that I do 80-90% of my training with other people I find it hard to go by myself! It’s nice to catch up too. Majority of our visits are for training and catching up! 🙂

  13. Melissa says:

    These are all really perfect points on how to stay motivated. I’ve only recently started to try and get more exercise into my every day life and the ones I’m finding the most useful is a) doing it with a friend- she keeps me SO motivated! and b) find something you love- I am not a fan of running or lifting weights or doing a gym workout, but my fitness classes have been SO much fun, I wish my membership wasn’t almost about to expire! I don’t know what I’ll do when it is because it is REALLY expensive to renew. I’ll have to find a student fitness gym somewhere, or something like that!! Great post 🙂

  14. These are great tips. Sometimes I lose my motivation, and when that happens I either give myself the day off, or I do something a little easier than my typical workout. Sometimes just going for a long walk with the dog is enough to get me feeling up for a good workout.

  15. mandy says:

    Great tips, amber!

  16. Lisa says:

    I think as a reformed obese person finding motivation is easy. The motivation for me is that I never want to be unhealthy again.

  17. J says:

    I totally use the “fake it till you make it” all the time because honestly I do not like getting up in the morning. But it is so worth it once I get out there. SO i just tell myself you can just go down the road and turn around and then I usually end up running my 3 or 4 planned miles because I finally wake up and feel good!

  18. Kelly says:

    Great post 🙂 I really enjoy working out too, so that is a lot of my motivation! When that doesn’t work, I try other things- like being accountable for it on my blog. Injury rather than motivation seems to be my biggest obstacle sometimes 🙂

  19. Friends & trying new things are my biggest motivators! I also remind myself constantly of how it feels AFTER the workout – and once you get going, that’s all you need 🙂 Great post!

  20. This is wonderful post! And I’m glad to report that I do many of these to keep myself motivated. I find that I may not want to head to the Yoga studio or gym, but once I’m there I get into the groove. I’m also really fortunate to have a work out buddy who keeps me on track. Great tips!!

  21. I like the “race or other target” for motivation. Hello Ironman.

  22. nicole says:

    fake it till you make it is my goal to live by! sometimes if you pretend your enjoying it, you eventually do! 🙂 great post!

  23. Sara says:

    I’ve been slacking on motivation. For a while, it was Team In Training. Then it was a trainer and my wedding. I signed up for a half, but I’m struggling with motivation because of the heat here! I recently hooked up with my old TNT coach’s running group to run the bridges on Tuesday nights because I’m running a half in November. Otherwise, it is really just guilt that motivates me (isn’t that sad?!). I should probably find a new motivator because I think guilt is really a slippery slope and leads to unhealthy habits!

    Lately I’ve been less inclined to lift weights for some reason. I think I lost all my tone and now it feels impossible to regain it. Plus I really don’t like the gym by my house! I need some new inspiration for weight training/strength training.

  24. I really, really struggle with motivation. Once I get my workout clothes on, I feel much more motivated, so sometimes I just have to force myself to put those clothes on.

  25. Jessica says:

    Great tips! I think we all have days where we feel unmotivated but I’ve always found that once I get going, I never regret working out, even if it’s not as good as I hoped it would be.

  26. Stephany says:

    I think finding something you love is SO KEY to maintaining motivation. Like you know, I tried to find a love for running for a long, long time but it just wasn’t happening. But once I joined a gym, I found how much I love the gym atmosphere – the classes, all the different ways to work out, the skinny people. SO motivating for me! And I know I have close to $60 coming out of my account once a month so I have to put that money to good use!

  27. Sarah says:

    I really enjoyed this post! Motivation is always a problem for me, but I’ve discovered that putting on my workout clothes and telling myself I’ll only do 1/2 an hour usually gets me going. Also, I always start with cardio because I love it, and by the time I’m done, I’m always so pumped that I end up doing at least 15 mins of strength exercises too. 😀
    Another great motivator for me is to log my food and exercise, more specifically the calories in and the calories out. I have a number goal and at the moment it’s working pretty nicely for me.

  28. […] that is the problem. In this post, we are going to discuss some of the most effective methods for keeping motivated with your exercise […]