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Here’s what you need to know when it comes to how to motivate yourself to workout. The holidays are always a hard time when it comes to staying motivated and inshape, no matter what your fitness goal is. The plethora of fatty and sugar laden foods like cookies, pies, and other treats coupled with other vices, like alcohol, make things especially hard. However, this is no time to give up.

That may be easier said than done. Motivation can be hard to muster, especially when its cold, dark and dreary in the winter. What you need to do is find ways to muster your strength and get up off the couch. Here’s how to motivate yourself to workout: you trick your brain.

So much of working out and remaining motivated is mental, but you also need to understand that you are human and given to temptation. It’s true, we all fall off of the wagon and get derailed from our fitness goals, but here are some some tricks to consider when you’re trying to figure out how to motivate yourself to workout.

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Start with a goal and create a system for achieving that goal, then hold yourself accountable to it.

The absolute first thing you need to do is get real with who you are, where you’re at and what is realistically achievable. If you set unrealistic goals for yourself, then you are bound to fail and fall off the wagon – never to return to the gym again.

Once you have your goal in mind, consider what it is going to take to achieve that goal. What kind of time commitment will this require? What kind of extra resources will you need? How long should it take to achieve your goal? All of these are important considerations that you need to make before you even set foot inside the gym.

Trick your brain and sign a long-term commitment contract.

Make a deal with yourself. Studies suggest that this really works. Outline in a written contract exactly what days, times, frequency etc. that you will work out. Make allowance for off-days and be realistic with yourself. What this does is reorient your mind into thinking longer term. You may only start out with a three month cycle, but that already gets you thinking about the expectations and what you can expect for outcomes. It’s a simple psychological trick that can sometimes be the deciding factor when it comes to your success.

Hold yourself accountable – bring a solid workout buddy.

Now that you have your realistic fitness goals set and a contract in place, you might want to consider recruiting a workout buddy. Now, be careful here, because you are going to want someone who is as focused on the goals as you. All too often gym time turns into social hour – this instantly saps your motivation and ultimately wastes your time. Go in with a plan each day and make sure you and your buddy are on the same page, doing the same exercises and in sync with one another.

The psychological aspect of this tip is that having a workout buddy is another way to hold you accountable. Ultimately, you’ll want to surround yourself with others who are on the same page as well. The more that you surround yourself with people who are oriented toward fitness and healthy active lifestyles, the more likely you are to remain motivated and moving toward your goals.

Challenge your body AND your mind.

It’s not enough to simply show up to the gym, you actually have to BE THERE. What does this mean? This means that when you go to the gym you need to focus on yourself and why you are there. Think about your breathing and your body’s natural rhythms. Think to yourself with each exercise about the specific muscle group you are working on. This simple mental trick is a good way to get the most out of your workout and what’s more, it will help with how to motivate yourself to workout harder in successive sessions.

Don’t be hard on yourself – be realistic.

Working out isn’t easy and starting to work out for the first time or getting into a consistent routine can be even harder. The key here is that you do eventually get into a routine. Studies suggest that it can take up to 30 days before you can trick your brain into a solid mental routine. This means that you must always be realistic with yourself and understand that you are indeed human. Remember, success is self mastery – this is a long term, lifestyle that you are committing to.

You will fall down and you will have moments of weakness, so understand that about yourself, anticipate it and move on. The problem is not that you fell off the horse, the problem is if you fall off the horse and never get back on.

Treat yo self! But do it the right way.

Now that you’ve accepted that you’re human, accept that you also need to treat yo self! Here’s the key with this move, build it into your contract, plan and schedule but just don’t do it too frequently. Treating yourself with cheat days resets your mental clock and keeps cravings down. Some studies even suggest that overloading on carbs after an extended deficit can reset your body and supercharge fat burning. Just like your muscles need rest, your mind does too. Remember, working out and staying consistent is all a mental game.

Rewards don’t have to come in the form of cheat days too. They can literally be anything that you set for yourself. Determine if there are any extrinsic motivating factors that might work for you. It could help and make the difference. Perhaps you buy a pair of pants in the size that you would realistically like to be? The pants serve as a visible and tangible reminder of your goals and progress.

Try fitness classes.

Once you set yourself in an effective routine, it’s time to shake things up a bit. It’s good to get in a habit, but don’t get stuck in a rut. Instead, keep your fitness routine flexible and fluid. Do different moves or activities to target muscle groups. This works smaller supporting muscle groups that you may not normally hit and it provides a mental break for yourself. Going to the gym shouldn’t be a slog, make it fun by varying exercises.

How to motivate yourself to workout if you’re bored? Well, subvert the the usual cardio options and try a Flex Appeal fitness class. Classes at our gym typically last around 30 minutes and are included with your membership – just be aware that space is limited. HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) classes get you out of your comfort zone and can help you bust past plateaus. Our Reno spin class is also a great way to keep you accountable. Set days and times are yet another tangible way you can trick your brain.

The best time to plant a tree was years ago, the second best time is today.

Finally, you can sit there and dwell on the past, your habits and your inadequacies, but the truth is that none of that matters. Forget who you were in the past and accept that the only way you are going to improve your situation is by making a change and getting started today, not tomorrow – today. It is never too late to adopt new habits and learn new skills, you just need to create realistic systems for yourself so that you can achieve those goals. This journey of yours will take time – you will be met with trial and error, but what’s important is that you start today.

Finally… here’s how to motivate yourself to workout and achieve your goals.

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