Motivation: How to Start and Stick To an Exercise Program

We've all been there. We're tired after a long day of hard work and dealing with the various stressors of our everyday life. Believe me, I've had more than a few days like this in my time on this planet. But with this post I hope to be able to give you some tools that you can use to finally say 'Enough already!' with the cycle of excuses to not starting or not sticking to an excercise program.

Why should you listen to me? You should listen to me because I have employed these same ideas into my own life and into the lives of countless others that have seen great success. Okay, let's get down to it. If you follow these steps you will find that regular excercise can be a beneficial part of your life and also doesn't take up too much of your time. Let's get down to it.

1. Schedule exercise into your daily planner or daily things to-do list

You want to schedule an activity that you know you will have a fun time doing. This could be anything from playing sports to hitting the weights on a regular basis. Whatever activity you choose just be sure to get your heart and muscles moving for an extended period of time. You will only need about a thirty to forty minute slot to fill. Have it in your mind that this is an enjoyable activity and something that you will look forward to doing. Schedule this to be about three or four days a week to begin with. When you get more into the habit you can go to the four or five days a week plan.

2. Make it a priority in your life

If you are coming up with excuses for NOT exercising then you will have to do some serious introspection on to whether this is really important to you. If you feel exercise is truly important, and you are still not doing it then you have to figure out your X-factor. What is your X-factor? It is going to be different for everybody, but basically it means realizing what is important to you to get healthy and fit. Some examples: Family, health reasons, losing weight, looking good with no shirt, impressing others, mental benefits, the list could go on and on. It doesn't matter what your X-factor is. What matters is that the X-factor will get you fired up every day to attack the gym!

3. Stick to the program for at least thirty days

Any less than this and it will be hard to make exercise a habit. If you are just getting started then this step is critical. You want to make exercise a habit. It should become a regular routine in your life like brushing your teeth or breathing. There are methods you can use to make this a daily routine. Make it easy on yourself by having access to gym clothes in your house or to pack your gym bag and have it ready to go the night before. Try to pick a gym or park that is close to either your work or home. This way you would presumably drive by the place multiple times and get you to thinking about it and also make it convenient for you to stop there for a half hour or so.

4. Chart your progress

You can't see where you're going if you don't know where you've been. Write down your goals and be sure to journal the things you have made progress on in your exercise program. This will motivate you to stick around with your program in multiple ways. When you have decided what your X-factor is then it will be time to figure out how to get there. You can only do this with tracking your progress. So pick some fitness benchmarks that will get you motivated and work on improving them. Some examples would be: quicker run time, more pull-ups, more push-ups, etc... There are many fitness benchmarks out there to improve on. Pick some and start working at it.

5.Mentally prepare yourself

In the hours leading up to your excercise activity you should be mentally thinking about what you are going to do in minute detail with that activity. Sport psychologists have used this technique with athletes for years. It's called positive visualization and to do this you think about the movements you will be using before you even set one foot in the gym and visualize how the exercise makes your body feel. Visualize yourself lifting that weight overhead and the success you feel after dropping that weight to the floor. This is a powerful technique to use when your motivation is waning. It gets you prepared mentally and also fires you up to excercise since you have been thinking about it all day, right? On the flip side of the coin, another technique that I like to employ is actually the complete opposite. Don't think about it at all. Figure out in your head what the plan is in the gym, then just go do it without even thinking about it. I use this method quite often when I've thought about working out too much that I just need a change of pace and when life catches up with you. If you have made excercise a habit already then it is something worth deploying in your arsenal of tools to keep yourself motivated and excited about your particular excercise program.


I hope that if you are on the fence about starting an excercise program then these 5 things have given you the fuel to get started right now and that if you are in the midst of a lifelong commitment to fitness then I hope these steps can help you stick to it. There is no time like the present to start living your life healthy, wealthy, wise, and Super fit!

Chime in please with any other tips you have used in your own life for keeping motivated on your pursuit to ultimate fitness.

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Comment by Sarge on November 29, 2009 at 9:28pm
Completely agree that consistency is a huge part of sticking to an excercise program!
Comment by I'mCosy on November 1, 2009 at 8:10am
5-minutes-a-day simple exercises can be done in the bathroom... I read this long ago in a book by that name "5-minutes-a-day", a pocket guide for men. The key word is consistency.

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