How Do You Encourage Yourself to Exercise?

Outdoor Voices

I know a few people [shakes fist] who are so into their exercise routine that they do it without even thinking. I’ve never been one of those people — not even close — so, when I started running and taking classes a couple years ago, I had to come up with little rewards to keep myself motivated. Here are six strategies I use, and I’d love to hear how you psych yourself up for workouts…

Workout Motivation Tips

Here, I’m wearing Outdoor Voices’ half-zip and dipped leggings.

Remember How Good You Feel After.
I’m officially an Anxious Person, but every time I stretch my legs outside, I feel so much better. New York Magazine wrote about “the mind-clearing magic of running,” and runner Monte Davis said, “It’s hard to run and feel sorry for yourself at the same time. Also, there are those hours of clear-headedness that follow a long run.” If that’s not a good motivator, I don’t know what is.

Wear Cute, Comfy Clothes.
I started off running in old maternity leggings, so now it feels extra amazing to wear actual activewear that fits well. I’ve tried a bunch of different brands, but Outdoor Voices is my absolute favorite. They’re SUCH high quality, they last forever, the colors are great, and the long-sleeved tees actually feel silky.

Outdoor Voices

Outdoor Voices

Listen to a Killer Playlist (or Podcast).
Having exercise music that saturates my brain so it can’t spin in 1,000 directions and pumps up adrenaline is a must. A few songs I love: Meghan Trainor’s All About That Bass, The Police’s Every Little Thing She Does is Magic and Stevie Wonder’s For Once in My Life. (What are your go-to workout songs? Please share!) My friend Sharon listens to podcasts and audiobooks on long walks — she’ll even go an extra mile or two if there’s a cliffhanger.

Go on an Adventure.
I love taking bike rides through new-to-me neighborhoods or going on long walks when traveling. Exploring takes your mind off the actual huffing and puffing, and it’s fun to check out new parks (and scout restaurants for later). In Brooklyn, Dumbo, the Promenade and the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens are all beautiful spots to explore.

Borrow a Dog.
I’m not a dog person (I know, heart of stone, etc.). But my friend regularly borrows her neighbor’s golden retriever. They jog around town, chat with passersby, cuddle on a bench — how cute is that? She says it’s the highlight of her week. Meanwhile, her neighbor stays cozy inside. Win-win.

Invite a Buddy on a Walk-and-Talk.
Walking with a friend is one of life’s simple pleasures. Instead of asking someone to meet for drinks or dinner, I’ll see if he or she is up for a stroll around the neighborhood — which feels brisk, invigorating and just as enjoyable. (And you can always stop into Sephora after.)

Outdoor Voices

Outdoor Voices

Outdoor Voices

Here, I’m wearing this anorak and track pants.

Outdoor Voices

Do you do any of these things? What are your tricks for getting moving? See all Outdoor Voices new arrivals here, if you’d like. (I was also wearing this under my shirt:)

P.S. Five exercise classes we tried, and running for beginners.

(Photos by Julia Elizabeth for Cup of Jo. This post is sponsored by Outdoor Voices, which makes awesome active clothing. Thank you so much for supporting the brands that support Cup of Jo.)

  1. Kate says...

    It has taken a while, trust me, but I’m at the point where exercise is a must for my personal sanity. My therapy of choice is spinning. My brother and I are the same and when making plans to hang out, we’re always conscious not to ask the other to miss out because we know we’ll both be more fun to be around if we have exorcised (pun intended)!

  2. Rachel says...

    Last April I had an epiphany that getting into better shape was never going to get easier than right now. I was about to turn 32, and had just had my third (and final) child. I stared at my children and husband and finally found the motivation that has kept me going to my stroller strides class 2-3 x’s per week when no other reward system had worked: 1.) I want to look hot for my husband and 2.) I want to be healthy and fit for my family, so that I am around for a long time and can serve as a role model for my children. Whenever I feel like not going I remember these two things and it gives me the push I need.

  3. Allison says...

    I read somewhere that it takes 6 months to form an exercise habit, and having that number in my head made it SO much easier to keep pushing through every week. I also get out of class right as traffic is starting, so I tell myself I can either study or workout until it passes, and working out sounds better than studying 9 times out of 10!

    The other thing I swear by is listening to k-pop while I work out. Haha! There are just so many songs with fun, quick beats. Spotify, itunes, youtube, etc. all have kpop playlists that are so fun to run to!

  4. Melissa M says...

    I love listening to podcasts when I run. Having something to think about other than how many kilometres I’ve ran or have left really helps. I particularly like ‘How I Built This’ and ‘TGIM from Shopify’ (aspiring entrepreneur here!), or ‘The TED Radio Hour’. Basically anything that keeps my mind actively thinking about anything other than running.

  5. Sally says...

    I go out walking. I live in an suburban area and enjoy nothing more than strolling around residential streets, peaking into windows, looking at gardens and watching the people.
    I live alone (I’d call myself an extroverted introvert) but have a very people-facing job. So come Friday night I’m all peopled-out. But come Sunday afternoon, I want people again. So a stroll around the neighbourhood is a great way to appease my extrovert, but being low-pressure.

  6. Elisabeth says...

    I also struggle with anxiety so exercising – particularly running, is key to keeping that under control. I’m also a scientist – so my job is high stress at times so sometimes my experiment will fail and I’ll go sneak out for a run. By the time I get back I feel better and can face the problem. I just found out yesterday that I got into the NYC Marathon so I’ll be coming to your neck of the woods for a nice long run in November!! I can’t wait!!

  7. Jessie says...

    I love this post! I also run “highly anxious” so exercise is super important for me to stay balanced. One thing that really has helped me has been focusing on exercises that I really enjoy doing (right now I’m into Y7 Yoga, Flywheel, Soul Cycle, and CorePower Yoga). I tried swimming for awhile and I just didn’t enjoy it, so I gave it up. When I’m feeling really exhausted from a long day but I know I need to get moving, I just go on a long walk. For me, it’s all about “enjoying the process”…and remember how good I will feel afterwards doesn’t hurt!

  8. Tammy Spiller says...

    I love informal exercise…. you know just getting on and making walking and riding commutes part of your day, as well as formal classes. Mixing it up keeps me interested. While I am glad you’ve posted this list, the indirect advertising is not well hidden. As a runner it appears you’ve not done a single day in those shoes or clothes as you look kind of ill at ease in them and they are extraordinarily clean for city running.

  9. Jessica says...

    I try to embrace the mindset of adaptability to keep myself working out regularly. I love running, but for whatever reason I have a hard time running in the morning. If I know I only have 30 minutes before work I will kick my heavy bag or lift weights while watching the news instead of forcing myself to run. I once read “the process needs to be its own reward” and I think this holds true for wellness!

  10. Ankit Shrivastava says...

    This is my debut on your blog.
    For long, I’ve procrastinated exercising. The time is apt to change that, and reading this post only invigorated my heels. Thank you so much. I’ve pinned this on to my browser’s homepage.
    Love and regards

  11. Adrien says...

    “Not enough time” is always my excuse to myself.
    So I always use the tactic, especially if I am just exhausted from work/not enough sleep/life, of “just 10 minutes”. If you focus on making your ten minutes count — with stretching, or finding a workout video online, running around the block or even doing ten minutes of jumping jacks– you usually want to keep going. And if not you got in ten minutes of something that was just for yourself, and thats okay too.

  12. june2 says...

    Can not even tell you how much I LOVE the ‘borrow a dog’ idea – I’m gonna do this!!!

    PS: a highly motivating audio-book for the trail is Born to Run – it is amazing.

    PPS: would like to know how you survived the first month of running soreness? I’m motivating to return to running but the dread of soreness is hindering me from beginning!

    • Melissa M says...

      When I first started running I would get these sharp cramps in my right side, behind my ribs. After watching a whole bunch of youtube videos about how to run properly, this little tip finally worked:
      Breathe in through your nose for a count of 4, starting when your LEFT FOOT hits the ground (left-1, right-2, left-3, right-4), and then out through your mouth for a count of 4, again starting with your left foot (left-1, right-2, left-3, right-4), and so on.
      It has to do with your diaphragm, and how it jiggles with the motion of running, and whatever the actual reasons, it just works, every time!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that’s amazing, melissa, thank you!!

  13. Stephanie says...

    I’m already a morning person, but if I get a run in before work, I find that I’m more clear-headed and alert once I get to work. I’m also in a better mood. It only applies if you work out outside in the a.m., but I love seeing my city in the predawn hours before it gets busy and crowded. It’s like I’m in a secret.

  14. MBH says...

    I just wanted to say it makes me feel better you’re not a dog person either. I’m not, and dog lovers make me feel like such a jerk! I’ve had lots of passive aggressive comments from my dog-loving mother in law. I looooove babies, but I completely understand when people say they aren’t into babies. To each his own. Just made me feel less alone on the dog thing :)

  15. Another fun thing to do (as a runner or cyclist at least), is pick a destination that has something fun (pastries! coffee! beer! an ocean to jump into!) and run to it. Then have a treat and take the train home. It takes a bit more time, but running in circles can get pretty monotonous.

  16. Allison says...

    Great post! My number one motivator is quasi religious. We are only dancing here for a short time, and I will not let the day pass without some sky overhead. It’s my time to commune with my creator and be grateful for all that is. The other motivator is time management. You only have 24 hours each day, surely you can spare at least say 15 minutes doing something so beneficial for yourself and in turn all the people in your life.

  17. Ella says...

    #1 Motivator: Moving for my Mood!
    That’s my slogan and reminds me to move daily as a mood stabilizer. If I were to use weight loss or skinny jeans as a motivator, I would give up, because I also practice body positivity! It simplifies the question of whether or not to go. It’s not, “Do I look like I need it?” and more like “This is good for my mental health, period.”

    #2: Workout Social Hour
    I so look forward to going for my weekly runs with my two pals – I see it more like a social/catch-up hour than a workout sesh.

    #3: Me-time Entertainment
    I save up fun podcasts – like Two Dope Queens – for workouts.

  18. To get myself in the mood for working out I usually try to buy some cute outfits as a reward. Plus I have been working out with my best friend so we motivate each other. I think thats the best part, having someone pushing you through and going through the same thing.

  19. I was never much of a runner but set the goal to run a half marathon. I started listening to Hamilton the Musical around the same time so would only let myself listen to it while I was running. That was my motivation and it completely worked! Even when I didn’t feel like going for a run I’d think ‘huh, but wouldn’t mind listening to Hamilton’ and away I’d go, by the time I’d reached the end of the street I was happy to be running. And….I finished the half marathon! Listening the Hamilton from start to finish, of course! :)

  20. Mai says...

    I have been a runner my entire life – track when I was younger and long distances now as an adult since college. It’s indispensable to me and it’s a real de-stressing tool. I love the way it makes me feel. I also love the outdoors, so anytime I can treat myself to a trail run I will! Running to me is just that – a treat!! I agree w a previous commenter that once you get over the initial hump where it feels like a lot of work, it just feels so good and you are excited for the opportunities when you can go.

    I also love yoga because it takes my mind off anything but the present and allows me to practice patience in such a controlled environment. I lose myself in the movement (and if it’s that kind of class, the music too!) and it’s, just like running, a total treat.

    I actually feel not great and quite grumpy if I go a few days without being outside and moving around!

  21. Biggest motivator is staying in shape to keep up with my kids. I’m serious. They move a lot and fast and I want to play with them. I don’t want to be the dead beat Mom sitting on the sofa saying I’m too tired when the kids ask me to play. There’s nothing like seeing my 5 year old’s thrilled face when he watches me skip down the street with him. Pure joy.

  22. Gwen says...

    I started climbing. I’ve been running since my high school cross-country days and discovered yoga in college, but when life gets busy or stressful, exercise has always been one of the first things to go. About 6 months ago my boyfriend suggested we check out the new rock gym in our city. I had never climbed before, and it was scary at first, but I got hooked pretty quickly. Now, I don’t mind waking up at 6 am to go to the gym because it is so fun. Plus climbing, roped climbing, at least, requires two people, so I would be letting my boyfriend down if I bailed. We are looking forward to warmer weather so we can try climbing outdoors. I still run (planning to do a half marathon this summer) and my gym has yoga classes that I sometimes go to. But climbing has made exercise a regular thing for me.

  23. Sora says...

    I’ve played a lot of ultimate frisbee for a few years now but I hated running. I’m still not sure about my feelings about running yet but I’m beginning to like it more than I did before. I like getting into my workout gear because that allows me to feel good about me being badass/proud to have my sweat wicked by manmade fibers! Music choice is also important – for me I like upbeat music to keep me going. Spotify’s Throwback Workout playlist is great and my frisbee team made a pump up playlist before a big tournament that is also awesome. As for the actual running, my friend recently introduced me to an app called Running for Weight Loss. I really like it because it takes you through short intervals of running, walking, and eventually sprints. It’s nice because the short intervals keep me engaged and continuously moving! My best/most fun run so far was when I ran to Trader Joe’s and went on a shop at the end of my run as a reward. I went early on a weekend and there was only a short line because other Brooklyites were still sleeping or brunching! I’m not consistently running yet but I’m hoping to continue to find ways to keep it fun

  24. Sigi says...

    Six months ago I joined Class Pass with a group of friends from work. It keeps it interesting to mix up the types of classes so one exercise doesn’t get boring! Our schedules are all different, but we have a group text so usually at least one friend is able to come. It’s so much more fun to work out with friends and have a coffee/wine date after! We all have agreed on the same work out motto: “Show up, don’t die.” This way it always feels like a win no matter how the class goes!

  25. I’m pretty sure I can and DO feel sorry for myself when running.

  26. Kay says...

    I ask myself what will I regret more, doing it or not doing it. The answer is always just do it. No regrets.

  27. I REALLY struggle with this. I envy those people who get a “buzz” from exercise and naturally feel like doing it!!! Are we sure those people aren’t actually robots?!

    Anyway, the best way for me to get my butt into action is to have a gym buddy who won’t quit on me. At the moment I am working out with my husband. It really makes all the difference in the world to have someone else on your team!

  28. Kelly says...

    I listen to a lot of grime when I run. Grime is sort of like very aggressive British rap. It helps me set pace and gets me going. I really love Tinie Tempah, Dizzee Rascal, and Skepta.

  29. My big thing is, I have to build exercise into my routines – to make it not optional. The best way for me to do that is to exercise RIGHT when i wake up. It’s almost like I don’t have enough mental energy to argue with myself about why not to do it! :) And of course starting your day with exercise is a terrific thing to do. I actually drink my coffee WHILE I do my stretches (I do a pretty low-impact workout that blends yoga and ballet with a bit of kickboxing) and by the end, I feel SO energized and awake. If I skip it, I’m still groggy an hour after I wake up!

  30. Jeannae says...

    I used to be a fat kid. There was no way you could tear me away from my cake and make me go outside. This continued until high school when (of course) in order to try and fit in, I started running (read: jogging/walking) and it made me feel pretty good. I also started doing some spin and weight classes but never really felt comfortable. Three years ago, I moved to New York and decided to try kickboxing, something I have always wanted to try. I immediately recognized that THIS was the workout my body was made for. Three years later and I’ve just started Muay Thai, the more intense version of kickboxing, and I love it. When I walk out of my gym, I feel strong and ready to take on the world.

    My recommendation? Try out classes and find what makes you feel strong and healthy. No better motivation than that.

  31. annemarie says...

    I recently realized how much exercise has been important to me since I was a kid – I played basketball from 13 until the mean girls drove me away. My best friend in first year uni and I went to the gym three times a week. Then I played basketball again. Then I found a fun aerobics class. Then I made work friends who wanted a gym buddy. Then I started running to try to curb my anxiety. I picked up yoga. Now I’m getting into Pilates to rebuild my core after some awful back nonsense. So while I keep starting and stopping, if I look at the big picture, I have done an awesome job of never giving up! I think that is the most motivating thing for me, especially right now that so much is off-limits while I’m in rehabilitation mode.

  32. Angela says...

    Oooh this is one of my favorite topics!

    My trick is to change into gym clothes at the end of my work day and choosing a gym that’s on my way home. That way I’m already dressed and have no excuse not to go. I’ve found I have a 10% chance of working out if I allow myself to go home first so I always workout before I get home.

    My other trick was to sign up for a half marathon. But ymmv!

    My other trick (I play a lot of mind games with myself to force myself to exercise) is to schedule time into my outlook. So my computer will remind me, the time is blocked off and people will rarely double book me during that time. But I’m lucky to work near a great running path and have showers at work. At first it was a drag, but now I really look forward to it as a big stress reliever. I don’t allow myself to think I don’t know if I feel like running today or UGH I don’t want to run. I just get ready automatically and get outside. Unless I’m injured!

    and run slowly! I will never win a race, but at least I finish!

  33. jenn says...

    i have a stationary bike at home (one benefit from my divorce, haha) and typically will take turns doing that a few days a week with my boyfriend. and a couple months back, we started practicing judo twice a week with a buddy of his who happens to be a fifth-degree black belt, and it’s been amazing. i feel like a total badass, and like i could probably kick some ass if i were ever accosted on the street, haha. i’m obviously still learning, but it’s such a great, supportive community and all the higher-level guys are always there to answer questions and help out. highly recommended for a high-contact/moderate-impact workout with extra benefits :]

  34. Lizzie says...

    Any Cup of Jo ladies out there have recommendations for good low-impact exercise? I’ve developed knee problems in my 30s, so these days running is out of the question. I do yoga a few times a week, but I’m feeling like I should find something with more consistent/ challenging cardio to do regularly. I’ve thought about taking up swimming, but am totally intimidated by the idea of jumping in a pool and not knowing what I’m doing since I’ve never swam competitively! Any other ideas??

    • Hillary says...

      spinning and barre?

    • Nectar says...

      Rowing! They’re amazing, when I was having knee problems I would take indoor row classes. It focuses on your whole body but not terribly on your knees.

      Also spinning but just try not to add a lot of resistance until your knees are use to it

    • Jackie says...

      Brooklyn Body Burn, if you’re in Brooklyn. Or google the Lagree Method and you’ll find a franchise near you. It’s an incredibly challenging workout but – get this – you get skinnier as you’re doing the workout. And it’s safe for the knees because it’s no-impact.

    • moe says...

      Second the rowing, but in a boat if there are crews near you. It’s amazing cardio, the team environment is crazy fun and supportive and you run less risk of exacerbating current issues when you have a coach and teammates looking out for you. Anybody can do it (women on my team range from under five feet to near six, our youngest is 21 and our eldest is in her late 70’s [she’s a total badass]). Plus, masters-level rowing is very new-rower friendly!

    • EmmJay says...

      I hear you – I developed knee problems at the end of my 30s, and had to stop running. I reverted to my childhood sport of swimming, but benefited from working with a coach in Masters’ swimming to work on my form and technique. Swimming is such a technical activity that you really need someone to help you get a more streamlined and efficient form.
      During these lovely COVID-times (at least during the winter when swimming is impossible), I’ve taken up rowing. I rowed recreationally during college, but have found that a combo of the WaterRower (super silent and a small storage footprint) and the Hydrow app has kept me engaged and sweaty. And yes, I can vouch for my knees not being affected at all. :)

  35. Tracy says...

    Honestly I am a lazy, unmotivated person who buys and eats whatever she wants. No reward system or magazine cutout is gonna make me do it.

    The one thing that has worked for me really well is the Pact App. You pledge to do so many workouts a week, and for every workout you miss you pay $5. This has been my biggest motivator. It’s been months and I haven’t missed a workout because I’m CHEAP haha! It doesn’t hurt that the workouts are flexible. 10 000 steps, 30 minutes at an approved gym, or 30 minutes of motion!

    • Katrina says...

      I think this would only work for me if I pledged the money to a cause I HATE. Otherwise, if it’s something I actually believe in I could prob justify skipping working out to give them $5 every once and a while.

  36. Lisa says...

    Over the years I’ve done all sorts of exercise. I’m someone who needs it, otherwise I get really cranky. Things I’ve enjoyed most are yoga classes (makes me really chilled out), Zumba and jogging. Unfortunately I broke a leg a couple of years ago and since then I’ve been nervous about running, and then I had a baby so … forget about it. I’ve run for fifteen minutes since then.
    At the moment I do an adult ballet class (I did ballet from childhood into my teens) and I just love how I walk away from the class feeling taller, and once again being able to do something I really love (I think that’s key!).
    I find music helps – Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Mika are too of my favourites, but anything that keeps you pumped!
    I agree on the clothing as well. I used to exercise in gross tracksuit bottoms and ancient t shirts, but most recently I bought some Ivy Park (Beyoncé) leggings and when I’m feeling tired, my Beyoncé leggings urge me on! It’s like Bey is there with me (I’m sure she’s psyched at the idea)

  37. Alice says...

    P.S. cute trainers :)

    • Celeste says...

      I agree! What brand are they?

  38. Alice says...

    This is a motivator!!

    So I’m now one of these people who doesn’t need a reason to exercise and I just get up and do it, preferably first thing, pre-breakfast, but rarely because – life!
    But I am like this because I injured my lower back so badly 8 years ago I was told I would never walk upright or run or cycle or dance or carry a child without major spinal surgery, and even then with not great statistics of coming out pain free and not on daily meds. I’m stubborn as all hell and knew my body fairly well through yoga and dance so I said okay, but first I’ll try physio/pilates/anything but intervention first. And I did. It was a long long process, but I did it every day, along with meditation and it was bloody hard but now I have two kids whom I grew myself (hence no morning exercise) and I dance and run and boy do I appreciate it.

    Temporarily knowing what not being able to use my body feels like is what motivates me to get moving. So, so, grateful.

  39. Shannon says...

    Maternity leggings are awesome! Why can’t all leggings be that comfy & not dig into our waistline lol.
    Exercising is my go to to improve everything. I get great ideas when I exercise plus I feel stronger, better, smarter – overall more confident. Im typically not a confident person. If I don’t do it I feel miserable both physically & mentally. Plus I swear it helps me to stay youthful looking not the 40 years that I am.

  40. Hannah says...

    I live in the brick building on the left of the first picture and I think I saw you shooting these photos when I was walking my dog! Small world :)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that is so funny! :)

    • Liz says...

      When I saw this first photo my immediate thought was “wow, people live in buildings like that in New York with that view!” and there you are… you’re so lucky!!

  41. I managed to get into a running routine by coming up with exactly two rules:
    1. Go outside and run. The distance or time doesn’t matter, 5min around the block counts, as does 1 hour around the whole town. But you have to wear workout clothes and actually be outside and actually run. I knew that for me regularity is a much harder thing to achieve than improvement in distance or speed. Those things will come eventually and naturally as soon as you have established the routine.
    2. Don’t tell anyone. I know that most advice says to do the exact opposite and tell everyone so you can’t back out later, but that never worked for me. It just made me feel bad. But knowing that nobody knows makes me feel… empowered (?). I know I am doing this for myself, by myself, and I don’t need anyone’s approval or praise but my own.

    • Alison says...

      I love your 2nd comment! I feel like not sharing everything is my secret trick!

  42. Meg says...

    I LOVE this post. I was a ballet dancer from the time I was 5 until I was 18 and once I went off to college I struggled big time to find my groove in another form of exercise. A lot of dancers were/are told not to run so I basically never ran during those 13 years of ballet. As a result, running in adulthood made me want to die. When a seven-time marathoner friend told me his trick to distance was to run slow (10+ minute miles) compared to many elite runners, I realized I was trying to run too fast and was burning myself out after five minutes. He also reminded me that he too “wants do die” during the first two miles which are usually the hardest, so making it past that point is so crucial. I finally just made myself run 3+ miles and achieved that runner’s high for the first time about four years ago. A few things I’ve found helpful to keeping myself motivated:

    1) Run first thing in the morning before you can make any excuses.
    2) Know that you’re going to feel amazing afterward (after I run, I feel like I just took a happy pill) and NOTHING is more important than being your best self both in your personal life and at work.
    3) Mix it up! Don’t run the same route every day or it’ll get boring. Run 3-4 times per week: one incline based run, one easy going short run, one mid tier run, one “longer” run of 6+ miles.
    4) Good music is key: if I can hear myself breathing, it’s game over.
    5) Integrate some other form of exercise throughout the week. I just started pilates a few months ago and it’s absolutely addicting. The transformation I see and feel in my core makes running so much easier than ever.
    6) Allow yourself to indulge in cute athleisure. There’s nothing better than a new pair of pants for your workout class :-)

  43. Katie says...

    Love your Veja shoes! Are they comfy to run in? Fairtrade Sneakers for the WIN!

  44. I actually went running yesterday thanks to this inspiration! I love the direction your blog has been going. It really encourages me to be my engaged, educated, empowered, empathetic best self, without any of the self criticism. Way to go ladies on finding the crossover of inspiration and self love. More healthy living posts please! I can use all the encouragement I can get :)

    • Kat says...

      Yes yes yes. I agree! Keep it up!

  45. Kate says...

    Such good tips, and I love that the focus isn’t on burning calories or losing weight, because that just isn’t motivating (at least to me, who couldn’t care less about those things).

    I’m lucky that I had good examples of my parents staying active while I was growing up (my 65 year old father still works out almost every day–these days, it’s crossfit!). Still, as my life has changed, I’ve had to adapt my routine and how I approach exercise (hello, full time job and baby).

    For me, the biggest motivator is remembering the mood and sleep benefits. I’m a sleep junky and dip into anxiety and depression fairly easily. My NP told me 30 minutes of exercise has the same benefits of taking 50 mg of Zoloft (an antidepressant and anti anxiety med). Having that very concrete number helps me look at exercise as a nearly-daily necessity, just like my medicine.

    We also use exercise for social time–family walks and Pilates classes/walks with friends, or time to listen to podcasts without interruption. Dissociating exercise from calories and weight and making it about the dozens of other extensive benefits helps make exercise a joy and a privilege rather than another chore.

    Also, one of my favorite Instagrammers, Osmia Organics, often uses the hashtag “exercise your privilege.” Remembering having bodies we can move is a great privilege helps me stay active.

  46. There are two things that work for me. 1. Go in the morning and get it over with. I find that if I wait until after work, 9 times out of 10, I’m too beat to make it. Going in the morning before your brain knows what you are doing to it works. 2.) I join a studio (Barre3 currently) that charges you if you sign-up for a class and miss it. If that’s not motivation I don’t know what is! There have been many times that extra fee has forced me to go. I know other studios that do it besides Barre3. Find one of those!

    • Corinne Porter-Taugher says...

      I do the same with Xtend Barre, which I love. I almost exclusively take their 5:45 am classes on weekday mornings. Depending upon the time of year I run, bike or drive to my studio and with all forms of transport, I love being able to enjoy my beautiful city when the streets are empty of cars and people. In the winter I’m also usually treated to a stunning sunrise on the way home. I also run and have struggled more with motivating myself to get up and go these past few years. I’m lucky that my office has a locker room with showers, so I try to do it over my lunch. And I have a colleague I usually buddy up with for long runs. On the weekends I love to savor some time on the couch with a cup of coffee, but I’ve found that if I sit for too long, I never get around to swapping out my slipper for running shoes. I’m a huge Antiques Roadshow fan and my husband is not and since I’m the earlybird in our relationship, I usually easy into the day by watching an episode from our DVR while I sip coffee, and then when it’s done TV goes off and I get changed and go run. It’s a nice way to enjoy the best of both worlds.

  47. Jennie says...

    I picture my son turning 50. I was older when I chose to have him, so living to see him turn 50 is a goal of mine. It keeps me focused to have a healthy lifestyle, which I owe to myself and him!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh my gosh, that’s really touching, jennie!

    • In love with this response and am now motivated!

    • Stella says...

      This is what hits my husband at home. His mom is overweight and doesn’t take care of herself. He gets frustrated, especially now that she is older. It makes you feel like they don’t want to be around as long as they could be. While no one controls fate, it seems like staying healthy and fit would be important for parents.

    • shannon says...

      This is touching, Jennie. Your son is lucky to have you as a mom!

      I have been motivated to workout by something on the beginning side of life – pregnancy and birth. My friend (/hero) exercised diligently for YEARS before and then all throughout her pregnancy…and gave birth completely naturally in 8 hours flat, with only 2-3 hours in the hospital. It’s exactly the kind of birth I hope to have someday. I know it is far from a direct correlation between exercise in pregnancy and how birth goes…but exercise won’t hurt, it may help, and her whole story really motivates me to go for it for both myself and my future children.

  48. Briana says...

    Put money on the line! I use an app called Stickk and make a “commitment contract.” I commited to run 5k 3x/week. Any week that I miss I have to pay $50 to my little sister. I also use the app Map My Run, so I take a screenshot of my route when I’m done and send it to her, as proof. I think I’ve tried every other motivational trick imaginable, and this really works!

  49. Samantha says...

    To add to your playlist:
    Sweet Disposition, The Temper Trap
    Escape, Asta
    Happy Running!

  50. Marissa says...

    I’ve been having success lately through a few strategies. Choosing workouts that suit my body and my abilities rather than forcing myself to do things that I feel I “should” do. Focusing on activities that have room for goal setting, improvement, and freedom of expression has also been great! This fits into the bigger picture idea of respecting your body and where you are when you come to your workout. Don’t beat yourself up about set backs or challenges. Give yourself credit for showing up. Be brave and playful during the time you’ve set aside for self care, and allow yourself to feel pride in what you CAN do.

    The biggest, most important thing, however, has been to remove the pressure to lose weight or shape my body in a certain way through exercise. Once I let go of that expectation I was able to see that I enjoy working out just for the sake of the movement itself and it’s non-weight loss benefits (anxiety control, strong bones and muscles, better sleep). Now I get grumpy when I can’t make it to the gym or my yoga class.

    It’s also been motivating to follow body positive athletes on social media, and to talk to coaches and instructors and establish friendly relationships with them so I feel comfortable asking for help. Good luck getting into your groove!

  51. Elese says...

    I’ve never been an “athlete”. My brother was always the one involved in sports where I was too afraid to get hurt, so I never really tried to do anything. I still swear that if anyone ever sees me running on the street, they should probably run too because it means I am being chased. A few years ago I started going to a local dance studio that offers group fitness classes in the evenings. My family has a history of heart disease and my father and grandfather both died very young. In an effort to keep myself hear healthy, I do high intensity cardio about 4-5 days a week. I can honestly say that working out in this capacity has changed my life. I am happier, I have a lot more energy, and I am so much more motivated to do things day to day. The loud music, the women that belong to the studio and the way I feel afterwards is my motivation!! Being able to shut your mind off for one hour or two hours and devote your time to only yourself is amazing. One of the particular programs (Red Warrior Nation) is a Mind/Body fitness program. I contribute that to my success in my new job and my relationship. My boyfriend is trying to convince me to work out with him at his gym, but I am still nervous about the weight lifting machines!!

  52. Love your tip on borrowing a dog! I’m not a runner, but my 7 month puppy wishes I was. I’d gladly let someone borrow him for a couple hours for some exercise.


  53. This year I made the goal to do yoga every week. My husband has a standing meeting every Tuesday night near my studio, so we encourage each other to get out of the house and walk home together after our respective events are over. It REALLY helps on days I don’t want to go.

    To run, my friend and I signed up for a “virtual” half marathon where we had to total up to 13.1 miles over however many runs we chose. Having a friend to hold me accountable to a goal was a big motivator too! By the time we finished I was in good enough shape to want to keep going on my own.

    Of course then I promptly got a knee injury so I’m back off running, but still doing the weekly yoga.

  54. Sasha says...

    I have four workout buddies, three are hardcore, never miss a day, let’s go no matter mud, rain, -40, injury, nothing stops them. Border collie, kelpie-hound, and blue heeler. They are very motivating. The other guy is my husband, and pretty much any excuse at all would get him to fob off a day. Fortunately the other three are so relentless he has to go. We walk every single day. Three days a week, a few miles in a big empty field near our house. The other four days we hike along rivers, or in the mountains. In the summer we back pack. Our daily walks are the best part of my day because I love my dogs and making them happy, being outside, moving and catching up with my husband. I also do yoga daily, dogs try to join. Those of you with dogs know how that goes.

    • Sharon says...

      This has me cracking up. I have two English Lab puppies (3 months apart and right around 1 year old) and completely understand where what you mean. In both regards!

  55. Awads says...

    i’ve been a morning (pre-coffee) runner for about 30 years. My motto is “don’t think, do”. It helps me get out for a 5-miler on even the crappiest days. you can’t over-think it or you won’t go. Running changed my life. It re-shaped my body (and has kept it that shape!), introduced me to my runner husband (18 years ago!), and gives order and some quiet to my otherwise hectic life. I don’t listen to anything but my breathing (and possibly approaching cars). I recommend it to all. I promise: once you get through the early build-up-of-stamina phase, it’s a breeze!