The Exercise Rule: Turn Discouragement into Motivation

At some point in our lives, we get bitten by the exercise bug. This is when you say to yourself, “I REALLY know I need to start working out”, and you know it’s the real truth; it’s kind of like if you don’t do it, you’re going to eventually be in trouble.

This reaction is normal, even wise, as working out has a lot of health benefits. Regular exercise likewise helps in sorting out the cobwebs in your brain for a less stressful day. The problem is sustaining the drive to continue working out. You can plan or wish hard to exercise, but unless you do the actual work, your dream body will remain just that – a dream.

Staying committed, motivated, and inspired to exercise can be difficult. This is especially true if it takes a while to see the results of your hard work or if you hit a workout you’re having trouble with. Without motivation, it’s easy to find other activities you’d rather do than to exercise. You just have to keep in mind that motivation differs from one person to another, so pick something that will inspire and challenge you rather than just quitting.


How to Motivate Yourself to Continue Working Out

There are a lot of temptations around that will test your determination to establish a regular exercise schedule. So how do you find inspiration to work out when you’re just not in the mood? How do you push yourself to keep at it even when you feel like nothing’s happening?

It can be pretty easy to become discouraged in sustaining your workout plan. A mean comment at the gym about your size can be disheartening. Thoughts of a pizza overload can be extremely tempting. And the “bed weather” can turn you into a lazy bum. What you have to remember is that you alone can turn any discouragement into a motivation. An exercise coach can only do so much. If you don’t push yourself, then no amount of coaching or inspiration will help you do the work.

Here are tips on how you can turn workout discouragements into exercise inspirations to keep you going.

  • Show up.

Woody Allen said it best: 80% of success is showing up. Even if you’ve been having a bad day or you’re too lazy to exercise today (and pinky swear to double your routines tomorrow), get your butt out of your chair and show up. It doesn’t matter if you don’t go to the gym and just decide to work out at home. There have been many days I didn’t feel like working out but I made myself do it. I showed up.

To “show up” is to ready yourself to do the work. Put on your exercise outfit on and you’ll instantly feel the change, the drive to do the work. And before you know it, you’re finished with your exercise routine for the day.

  • Set realistic goals.

Set exercise goals that are achievable with hard work and effort. A target that doesn’t present a challenge offers just a few gains and rewards. On the other hand, a target that is unrealistic can easily discourage you and set you up to fail. For instance, after two weeks of hitting the same regimen, incorporate a higher skill level for the next couple of weeks. This intensity is realistic and yet brings you to a challenge.

  • Find a workout that you enjoy.

There are tons of exercise regimens and workout classes you can choose from. You don’t have to stick to something you’re uninterested in just because everybody’s doing it. Case in point: it seems like everyone is into running these days. If you dislike running or if you’re a clumsy runner, don’t force yourself to keep at it. It’ll just make you miserable if you feel like it took you forever to finish a trail. Instead, try a different exercise. Do cycling or boxing. The important thing is to choose a program you will enjoy and will challenge you to do the work. Doing something you love provides more drive and motivation than doing something you hate.

  • Find a workout buddy.

People who have a workout buddy benefit well from the association. That’s a fact verified in the Journal of Social Sciences. People paired with an exercise partner perform more intensely than those who exercise alone. Training together is also a great bonding activity. Ask your loved ones if they want to be your workout buddy. You can even ask your colleagues, especially if your company provides a free gym membership or has an actual gym in the building. For best result, look for an exercise partner who has skills just beyond your own and who’s not afraid to push you when needed.

  • Show yourself some kindness.

Did you finish a particularly difficult routine? That’s awesome! Did you gain a new Personal Record? That’s great! These are your little triumphs that will push you to set a more difficult (but doable) goal.

Remember, it’s easy to set targets that are too ambitious, but when you fail to reach your goal, you may get tempted to give up.  Rather than concentrating on a workout cut short or on how far you need to go to achieve your goal, pay attention to the progress you’ve already made. Focus on the fact that you’ve got yourself moving. Yes, you still have a long way to go, but you did – and you’re still doing – something good for yourself. Think of this motivation: every step you take, every routine you accomplish, is worth acknowledging.

  • Give yourself rewards.

Exercise rewards typically offer effective encouragement to carry on. Pick a prize that is directly related to your workout. This can be a brand new exercise outfit to emphasize your new physique or the cool training shoes you’ve been eyeing for some time now. Have a visual board and post a picture of what your future reward is so you can see part of the reason you’re keeping healthy and fit.

  • Accept the reality that not all workout sessions will be great.

There will be times, for whatever reason, when it sucks to exercise. There are days when even if you’ve sweated it out, you’d still feel like your workout didn’t do anything for you. If this happens all the time, figure out why so you can make the necessary changes. Otherwise, learn to accept that there are just moments when the routine wouldn’t quite click, and that’s perfectly okay.


Lastly, When all things fail, remember why you started. Your reason to exercise can be as superficial as an upcoming reunion or as profound as a health scare. Whatever it is that made you exercise in the first place is usually the best motivation to keep you going.