Motivation Station


I’ve been fielding a lot of questions and smart remarks lately about how I motivate myself to get up and work out, especially at 5am. So I thought I’d make you a list ways to get yourself to exercise, whether that’s going to CrossFit, playing tennis, doing yoga, or working on your smiling muscles in the bathroom mirror. These work for me in varying degrees, so I’m hoping at least one of them can work for you, or remind you of what you already know.

  1. Tell someone you’re going to exercise with them. This is by far the most effective, but can also be the most difficult to make happen. You have to find someone with the same availability and who is willing to give you flak if you don’t follow through. Even if your workout parter is long-distance, accountability and mutual suffering are the best ways to get yourself out of bed on cold winter mornings.
  2. Create rewards. I decided that if I went to the gym four times this week, I could get an americano from Starbucks on Friday. And oh, man, did I have to rely on that promise to get out of bed at 4:58am this morning. But I tell ya, that coffee tasted amazing. Worth it.
  3. Set up rest days. If exercising is not the norm, it will feel harder. If rest days are unusual and exciting, exercising will become habit. Yesterday was a rest day for me. I got up at 6:30 and realized that I could get dressed, eat breakfast, and, by 6:55, walk out the door to go to work. What?!  Of course, I’m a serial time-waster, so that didn’t actually happen. But how good does it feel to realize you have a day off? Awesome. It feels awesome.
  4. Write yourself an inspirational note and put it where you can see it when you’re supposed to be exercising. When my alarm goes off, my phone reads, “Get up.” My second alarm reads, “For serious.” The third alarm reads, “Up. NOW.” This may sound a little ridiculous, but it serves to remind me that my fully-awake self thought that getting up was a good idea. Trust your fully-awake self. Get up.
  5. If you don’t do it, give yourself consequences. For instance, if you don’t run in the morning, you have to run after work before you can eat dinner (waiting for food is pretty much the worst consequence I can assign myself.) That way, the next morning, you know you’d rather get up than face the consequences. Be your own coach. Coaches give out consequences, in order to train their athletes.
  6. Remember why you’re doing it. Want to be around for your grandkids? Want to eat birthday cake at work? Sometimes it’s hard to think clearly early in the morning, but this is still helpful even then. Motivation is everything. In fact, forget the other 5 points here. Just remember why you’re doing this, and you’ll be fine.

Now. Let’s go conquer that exercising nonsense!


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