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How To Get Motivated To Work Out When You Don’t Want to

Sometimes it's tough to get motivated to work out, you had every intention to work out today but something kept you from accomplishing that task. Work issues, car trouble, relationship troubles, and kid drama are just some of the reasons people use to skip a workout for days, months, or even years.  After the avoidance come the excuses, the most popular justification being that they just can't find the motivation. Here's the bad news - being struck with the motivation to exercise is rare. If you're waiting for "a feeling" to get your ass up and into the gym, there's a strong chance you'll be waiting a long time.



With the new year just around the corner, people will head back into gyms, jump face-first into dieting, and hop back on the fitness wagon. This motivation to work out and eat healthier will last about a week for most people. A few months after the calendar turns to a new year, those same individuals will go back to doing the bare minimum with exercise and eating healthy.

Finding the motivation to work out isn't hard. There are countless ways to get motivated, but here are a few ideas that will help give you a kick in the ass when procrastination starts rearing its ugly head.

The 5-Minute Rule

Procrastination is the killer of all motivation. Thinking ourselves out of a task is the most common reason people avoid tasks because we focus on the entire undertaking and not just one part at a time. Let's use running as an example. If you had to run five miles, your brain would think, "ugh, those 5 miles will suck," and the mind will focus on all of the steps ahead. Instead, focus on one mile at a time. Conquer the first mile and move onto the second, and so on, until the five miles are complete.

An excellent way to combat procrastination is to try the 5-minute rule. If you're unfamiliar with the 5-Minute Rule, it's an amazing motivational trick that works for just about any task. Set the timer on your phone for five minutes and do some form of exercise for those five minutes. It can be anything - push-ups, jumping jacks, jumping rope, running, or even walking. You can stop when the five minutes are up if you still don't feel like working out. At least you accomplished those five minutes. Chances are you're going to keep working out.

Eliminate All Possible Excuses

The last time you skipped a workout, you probably had what seemed like a perfectly reasonable excuse. All of your workout clothes were dirty, you forgot your sneakers at home, or a Rick & Morty marathon pulled your attention away. In truth, all your excuses are crap and could have been avoided with a bit of preparation.

Take out gym clothes the night before and pack your gym bag to be ready. Block off a specific time of the day when you're going to work out. Shut off your phone right before so nothing can distract you. Think back to all the reasons you skipped the last workout and put the steps in place to avoid those issues from popping up again. As Benjamin Franklin once quipped, "If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail."

Think About The Past & The Future

Everyone has different reasons for working out and wanting to get into better shape. Better overall health doesn't typically top of the list. People focus on wanting to look better in the warmer months, and the need to wear less clothing rolls around or after a bad breakup or when you catch your reflection in the mirror or out in public and really don't like the body looking back at you.

To motivate yourself to exercise more and work out harder, think about all the times you looked and felt out of shape and then think about the next time you'll be in the situation again. Do you want to feel that way again? Do you want to have to wear a shirt the next time you go to the beach? Do you want to buy new clothes because your old clothes are too snug?

If the visualization trick isn't working, scroll through the photos on your phone or your social media account to find images when you weren't looking and feeling your best. There's no better way to motivate yourself to work out than to put yourself back in the moment when you were feeling less than.

Set A Specific Goal

Here's the real truth about why people can't stick with an exercise program, diet, or any self-improvement habit is our inability to create concrete and precise goals. If you're working out just to lose weight, get into better shape, or so that your clothes fit better, your goals are way too vague. If you exercise for a few days and drop two pounds, congrats, you reached your goal. If you work out for two weeks in a row, good job, you're in better shape than when you started. If your clothes fit a little better, well done, but all you really had to do was buy better-fitting clothes.

To get motivated and stay motivated, a person needs a specific goal and date of completion to reach that goal. Sign up for a race. Enter yourself in a fitness competition. Put down the money to do a Tough Mudder or Spartan race. Choose a goal, commit to the plan, and start taking action to reach the goal. To really up the stakes, tell people about the goal. Friends, family, and co-workers will work as motivators towards the goal because you won't want to look like a failure when they ask about your progress.

Not Tomorrow. Now.

How many times have you heard people say, "that's it, the diet starts tomorrow" or "next week, I'm going to start going to the gym every day"? How many times did those exact words come out of your mouth? Probably far too many since you're reading this article.

Here's the problem with setting goals in the future - it gives you plenty of time to forget or change your mind. Instead of tomorrow, next week, or when you've got more time, why not start right now? Put on your sneakers and go for a run. Pack a bag and go to the gym. Hell, just drop on the floor and do as many push-ups as possible. Just do something because something is better than nothing.

As with anything, getting and staying motivated to work out takes time and effort. Working out is the first part of a lifestyle change. The second part is evaluating your diet; as they say, abs start in the kitchen. The trick is in maintaining both efforts to get maximum results.

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Chris Illuminati
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Chris Illuminati is the author of five books and his writing has been featured on websites such as Rolling Stone, Men’s…
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