It doesn’t matter what your issue is, whether it’s simply boosting your endurance and strength, avoiding injury or losing weight, it’s hard to get yourself motivated to get fit. Sometimes, it takes a real wake-up call, like a doctor telling you that your excess weight is playing havoc with your heart or you have a serious condition, like diabetes. Sometimes, it’s tight clothing that you forget about the minute you put on a different outfit. Even though you may start with vim and vigor, sticking with a program then becomes the challenge.

Give it a month.

You don’t have to think about working out or eating healthy as a lifetime type of change, just give it a month. That’s right. Start your program with the idea that you can quit after a month. First, it doesn’t look nearly as intimidating and unlike a lifetime of healthy eating and exercising, missing a day of a 30 program is a far bigger deal. At the end of the month, evaluate your progress and how well you feel. If the results are good, you can decide then whether you want to make it a go for one more month. Most people do. If there are no results, revisit the program you’ve used and try a different approach.

Give yourself a tangible reward.

Sure, better health and feeling great is its own reward, but it’s really hard to measure and comes after months of working out. Instead, give yourself an immediate treat. Don’t make it a sugary treat or you’ll be defeating your purpose. Treat yourself to a nap, match minute for minute with a movie or other favorite diversion. Whatever sounds good to you, whether it’s a pedicure, massage or other diversion, such as actually taking time for lunch away from your desk, do it. That reward will reinforce your desire to go to the gym or eat healthier.

Workout with a friend.

Working out with a friend can get you going to the gym when you prefer staying home and also provide a little friendly competition. Nothing is as motivating as having someone else that knows whether you made it to your workout and someone with whom you can compare results. It’s also nice to have that extra encouragement. Encouraging someone else is also motivation to keep you on the right path. Having someone to celebrate success with is one of the best benefits.

  • Cut out the excuses and recognize them for what they are. If you say you can’t go to the gym because you’re too tired, look horrible or don’t know what you’re doing, become your own critic and set see those reasons for what they really are, excuses.
  • Create a contract with yourself and stick with it. Be specific about the amount of exercise you’re going to do and the times you’re going to do it.
  • Take a picture of yourself in a revealing outfit, like a swim suit, every two weeks. Post those pictures on a chart in your home so you can see the progress.
  • Change your mind and/or your environment. Exercise outdoors or take steps to truly appreciate the workout. Feel the muscles stretching and the joy of working your muscles. How you think about something makes the difference in whether you continue it.