Swimsuits, skinny jeans, doctors’ orders: Which is most on your mind? The promise to commit to a fitness plan is always a personal one, yet one we break time and again. No matter what sparked your momentum, staying the course is central to your weight loss goals. Here, a glimpse at the nuts and bolts of motivation, plus tricks for finding the enthusiasm to get moving when simply thinking about exercise seems like a workout in itself.
1. Take Advantage
Motivation, by its nature, varies in degrees. Internal Medicine specialist, Deborah Neiman, MD, Medical Director of Step Ahead, a weight loss center in Bedminster, New Jersey, describes it as a transient force. Like a gust of wind, she adds, it can go as quickly as it comes and it just ruffles us up when we “feel it.”
Tip: Keep your workout gear in plain sight—laid out at home, packed in your car, or in a drawer at work. Grab any small spark of inspiration to exercise without delay.
2. Find Your Gold Standard
Clearly, motivation alone won’t help you to lose weight—or you’d have met that goal by now. What ramps it up so you can succeed? Commitment, says Dr. Neiman. When you fuse commitment with motivation you create the gold standard of success. Think of commitment as the contract you make with yourself to act on motivation and get the job done. Need some incentive? Look to a loved one. In The 7 Stages of Marriage, authors Sarí Harrar and Rita DeMaria, Ph.D. cite a Brigham Young University study that revealed couples mirror one another when it comes to health and fitness. Getting your partner involved ups your accountability, so you’re more apt to stay committed.
Tip: Schedule exercise appointments on a calendar. Be realistic—if your evenings are hectic, try getting up an hour earlier to workout, or squeeze it in at lunchtime. Play around with the schedule until it fits your workday and lifestyle.
3. Anticipate the Hurdles
Every weight loss journey presents challenges, and being prepared for turbulence can help you overcome them. “There will be times, or times during the day, when you are more motivated than others,” says Dr. Nieman. “It’s your commitment to the process that will enable you to push through the hurdles day after day.” Keep your confidence on an incline by assaying both your short and long term successes—It helps keep you on track when you meet bumps in the road.
Tip: Try a free online diet and fitness tracker, like The Daily Plate. You can calculate your calorie goals, plug in meals and workouts, and get an accurate look at your progress over various timeframes.
4. Let Commitment See You Through
Motivation is an easy kill. Dr. Nieman suspects of all its opponents, food cravings pose the greatest threat. Temptation, she says, is dealt with best by accepting that your diet has flaws. Sure, a blunder here and there may dampen your motivation, but if you stay steadfast to your goals, you won’t sacrifice future success.
Tip: Stress and exhaustion can weaken your best attempts at thwarting a craving. Practice visualizing a calming scene or try a power nap — both techniques can help you come to your senses.
How to Rev Your Stalled Momentum
Grab a pen and list your reasons for slimming down. Dr. Nieman suggests that the habit of jotting down your motives and their rewards opens the door to embracing the reality of a new you.
Exit your comfort zone.
Sacrificing your routine allows you the chance to engage your mind and body in new and interesting ways. This is a key strategy to employ if boredom’s your motivational hurdle. For ten fresh workout ideas, visit the American Council on Exercise’s list of popular and budget-friendly fitness trends.
Give your fingers a workout, online that is.
There’s no better time than now to take advantage of fun, Internet freebies—from iPhone apps to music playlists grouped by workout type and genre, the Web doesn’t disappoint if you’re looking for pick-me-ups.