Having trouble staying motivated to exercise? You’re definitely not alone. So many things can get in the way of your good intentions to work out. Crying kids. A bad night’s sleep. Medications that zap your energy. You name it, we’ve all been there. You know how important it is for your brain health and mental well-being to exercise. So how do you stick with it when life gets in the way? Here are 5 strategies to get your butt (and your mind) in gear.
1. Make a list of the benefits you get from being physically active.
I’m a big fan of making lists of pros and cons, and doing this for exercise can help motivate you to get moving. Sure, decades of research show that exercise is a wonder drug…without the side effects. It improves moods, reduces stress, and boosts brain health. But I want you to create a personalized list. How does being active make you feel? More energized? Better focus? Brighter moods? On your list, also be sure to include how engaging in physical activity impacts your other daily habits. Are you more likely to eat brain healthy foods on the days when you work out? Does it encourage you to make sleep a priority? Are you less inclined to spend hours scrolling through your social media feeds? Look at the influence it has on other areas of your life. I’m guessing you’re going to have a pretty long list of “pros.”
2. Make a list of the downsides of not exercising.
Okay, now it’s time for the “cons” side of the list. If you don’t do your work out, how will you feel? Like a failure? Less energy? More down in the dumps? Will you be more likely to throw your healthy eating plan out the window and indulge in sweets or salty snacks? Will you be more irritable around your family? Will you lose the strength and fitness you’d gained? Will it make it harder to start over?
3. Turn it into an automatic habit.
If you struggle with motivation or procrastination, work to make exercise a habit that you don’t have to think about. Pick a time of day for your workouts and stick to it, no matter what. Every time you do that workout, it will etch a groove into the pathways of your brain that makes it a reflexive habit. Think of it like brushing your teeth. You just do it without having to think about it. When you stick to your routine, exercise will become automatic for you.
4. Have a plan for the unexpected.
Of course, there are days when life doesn’t go as planned—the car doesn’t start, the sink backs up, or you have a nasty headache. Have a backup plan in place for life’s little emergencies. Find small chunks of time during the day to do mini-workouts—10 or 15 minutes here and there. Write down a few simple moves you can do in that amount of time—a brisk walk, push-ups, walking lunges—so you have a plan. And have an alternate workout plan for days when you aren’t feeling your best. On days when I’m really not feeling up to a kick-ass sweat session, I do a gentler workout that includes some soothing stretching. You’ll still be working out and developing those grooves in the brain that make it a habit. For me, knowing I have alternatives in my back pocket for days when life gets crazy helps me keep on track.
5. Remember, self-care isn’t selfish.
If you’re like so many people who have a hard time feeling like you deserve time to devote to yourself for exercise, remember that being active isn’t just for your benefit. It’s for the benefit of everyone around you too. When you’re in a better mood, it makes life better for your loved ones. And when you model brain health behavior, it encourages those around you to do it too. And when you spend time (or money) on exercise, it helps keep you physically and mentally healthy to be able to help your loved ones. I always tell myself, “I can’t afford not to exercise.” There’s no way I would be able to meet all the demands of my day if I didn’t work out.
For more motivation, watch my free fitness videos on my YouTube channel and check out my fitness blogs on my website. Let’s get healthy together! To make sure you have the protein-powered nutrition you need after a tough workout, try OMNI Protein powder in Vanilla or Chocolate. I’m giving you 21% off when you use the promo code TANA21 at checkout.