The No. 1 Way to Stay Motivated to Work Out

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By Mariana Abeid-McDougall

Loving exercise doesn’t come easily to all of us. Many people will start an exercise routine and do great for a month or two; but then, life gets in the way, and other priorities encroach on our exercise time. For many, making exercise a daily habit can be very difficult. There is, however, one simple thing you can do to stay motivated to exercise. I’ve done it myself, and I can say that it works. The number one way to stay motivated to exercise — and turn it into a daily habit – is to fall in love with a sport (even if you don’t like sports). Here’s how.

1. Define sports in broader terms.

“Sports” doesn’t have to mean team sports, and it doesn’t have to mean professional athleticism. For many who dislike sports or competitiveness, individual sports can be a great way to stay motivated to exercise.

I’m not a very competitive person, and I find that working with extremely competitive people brings me down. For me, an individual sport – triathlon, is what made me stay active after having my first baby.

Triathlons are a great sport for amateur athletes who aren’t necessarily interested in “hitting the big time” in sport. Events are usually friendly, and athletes are great at cheering each other on. Other sports where this is also true are individual cycling and swimming events, among others.

2. Find an event, register for it, and mark it on your calendar.

Once you’ve decided on a sport you enjoy, find an event happening within the next 6 months in your area, purchase your registration, and mark it on your calendar.

Once you have registered for an event and cleared your calendar to participate in it, your motivation is very clear – you need to train frequently to be ready for your event. Also, by paying for your registration, you’ll get the added bonus of having the financial motivation as well – you’ve paid for it, so you might as well be ready to do it!

3. Train for your event.

Once you’ve chosen a sport you love (make sure you really do enjoy it!), start training for your event. There are many resources on the web for free training programs in various sports. Getting a buddy to train with you can also help you stay accountable. If it’s within your budget, getting a personal trainer can also help.

Training for an event, and concentrating solely on that aspect, can have beneficial side effects as well. Having to be ready for an event by a certain date is what motivated me to lose 50 pounds in five months after having my first daughter. I never thought about the weight loss; instead, I concentrated on being ready to complete my first sprint triathlon. It paid off.

4. Complete your event!

Now that you chose a sport to love, registered for it, and trained for it, your day of glory has arrived. You’re ready to take on your next accomplishment, and give it your all! Enjoy the event; take in the experience with all your senses, and remember to tell yourself that you’ve done a great job with your training.

5. Sign up for your next event.

If you truly enjoyed the experience of your first event (and the training that went along with it), sign up for the next event in which you would like to participate. This will help you continue to stay active.

If you didn’t love this particular sport, start looking for inspiration to try a different one. Some events and gyms have trial events or periods in which you can try something before fully committing.

Many people fail to stay active on a regular basis simply because they have not found the right motivation. Too many of us concentrate on how our bodies look, rather than marvelling at the amazing things our bodies can do. Shifting the focus from “weight loss” or “looking good” to “accomplishing” something, such as completing a sporting event, might be all you need to make an active lifestyle a reality for you.

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