Sure, a great pair of shoes and an awesome cardio routine are important tools at the gym, but trainers say the most important aspect of any workout is motivation. “Consistency with your fitness program is the key to getting lasting results, and if you aren't motivated, then it's pretty hard to keep at it,” says trainer Jessica Smith, ACSM, star of the 10-Minute Solution Workout Wii game. Smith says these tips will help you get -- and stay -- motivated to work out.
Set realistic fitness goals.
Jumping into a high-intensity program, advanced class or aggressive regimen before you're ready can lead to discouragement. Instead of trying to cannonball into an overwhelming fitness plan on the first day, start small and think big.
Set a long-term "big picture" goal for yourself. For instance, aim to be able to run a 5K or walk all the way to the local park and back. Then break your big goal into bite-sized smaller steps. Try going for a 10-minute walk or run today, and gradually increase the duration and length of your walks when you feel ready until you've reached your goal.
Think outside the gym.
A health club isn't the only place you can get in shape. Instead of slogging to the gym, think of places where you feel motivated or comfortable, such as your home, a nearby park or even your own neighborhood.
If your home is your prime spot, designate a place with plenty of light and good airflow to sustain your motivation throughout your entire workout. If the great outdoors gets your exercise mojo flowing, try taking a walk or bike ride around your neighborhood. Be creative and choose locations where you feel inspired -- not intimidated or irritated -- to exercise.
Train for a bigger purpose than a bathing suit.
Sure, skinny jeans and a new bikini are great reminders that you need to lose weight. But sometimes, having those things looming can backfire -- and leave you feeling defeated instead of motivated. Instead, think of something you've always wanted to do -- for instance, try rock climbing or compete in a triathlon.
Why not take rock-climbing lessons or join a group and then train for it? Work on building your strength and stamina in the gym so that you can climb with confidence.
Mix up your workouts to stay motivated.
No matter where you find motivation, Smith says the most important thing is sustaining it. "Try incorporating a few different things that inspire you to exercise so you're never bored," says Smith. And don't be afraid to mix things up a bit. "Having different sources of motivation will help you meet your fitness goals," she adds.
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