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How To Find the Motivation to Exercise (When you really don’t want to)?

At this time of the year, with the weather being cold and the daylight short, we all know that it’s hard to get yourself up out of a chair and start moving. Many of us have even started the year with resolutions and great big goals to finally get into the shape that we have always wanted. We have a desire to have the results of exercise but not the motivation to take that first step and get started moving.

Motivation can come from a lot of different sources – maybe you don’t like the way your clothes feel tight or how you are out of breath walking up a flight of stairs or maybe your coworker is gorgeous and you want to attract them. Whatever the motivating factor was, we need to constantly remind ourselves why we are going to push ourselves and get that workout in. Keep reminding yourself of your ‘why’ otherwise, it gets really easy to forget the reason that we are working so hard. This is key. Try keeping a journal if you must to write out your why so you won’t lose sight of your goal.  

Even with this mindful approach, life can get in the way. Has this happened to you before? You wake up in the morning and pack your gym bag, determined to go to the gym after work and proud of your own resolve to do so. Then the day goes by, maybe you could not leave work at the time you intended and you find your resolve drifting away. You think to yourself, tomorrow I will get there, today I am too tired. Does this scenario sound familiar to you?

You are not alone, many of us have experienced this or very similar circumstances and we failed to follow through with our good decision to exercise. The temptation to put the effort off until tomorrow is very dangerous. We all know that the concept of tomorrow never comes because the next day you can say ‘tomorrow’ again. This creates negative momentum and before we know it, we have gone weeks, months or maybe even years without progressing towards our goals.

Tap Into the Energy That Lies Beneath the ‘I’m tired” feeling.

The best strategy to combat this problem that I employ is to trick my mind into tapping into an abundance of energy that lies beneath the ‘I’m tried’ feeling. I know that you can relate to a time when you had absolutely no energy and couldn’t get off the couch or out of the bed until you hear that an old friend or long-absent family member was coming over and then you jumped up and had energy overflowing at the prospect of seeing this person.

If you were utterly exhausted before the news that that person was on the way, how come upon hearing that they are coming, you are overwhelmed with energy? You can practically fly through your shower, cleaning up the place, getting ready, etc. Where did that energy come from? Who cares where, just use the newfound energy.

If we use this example, we can trick ourselves into having energy for going to the gym when we are tired by imagining that a famous person, whom you admire, is working out there right now and if you hurry you might just get a chance to meet them. I will often conjure up an image of Dwayne Johnson or Chris Evans working out at my local gym. You can be sure that my tiredness goes away quickly if I have a vision of working out with ‘The Rock’.

This may seem silly to you but if it works then do it. Remember that your body does not know the difference between real or imaged events. If it did then we could not enjoy watching a movie and getting wrapped up in the events as they unfold. If a movie can cause the emotions of fear, anxiety, grief, joy, etc. to take us over, why not make your own internal movie to be motivated to take better care of ourselves?

We have to use all the tools and strategies available to us to help us become the person we want to be. Motivation is fleeting so we have to remind ourself of our reason why we work at it everyday. And being tired is all too common to let it stop us so try tricking yourself into finding your energy. These two strategies have been a key to my success. Give them a try.

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