10 Ways to Stay Motivated to Exercise, Holidays or Not

Special Blog: There’s a myth that regular exercisers find it easy to throw back the covers and get going. The truth is that even the most dedicated and disciplined have tricks. These ten sports & exercise psychology tricks I’ve used on myself and with clients over three decades have helped me stick with it juggling multiple jobs and single parenting, business travel, and even decking the halls.

Do it early.

The business of getting in shape is like any other business. Move the most important tasks, the ones you want to get out of the way, to first thing.

For a woman working on hormone balance, first thing is the best thing. Getting in your higher intensity exercise early is hormone-smart. Fifty-nine percent of regular exercisers, and 23 of our most influential leaders get it done in the morning.

Women in Exercise Class

Get support.

Get an exercise buddy, dog, coach, or a class to help you stick to it. The key is make that commitment matter. If you can show up and stand in the back of the class or not and never be missed, it won’t work. Get some skin in the game. A friend standing outside at 6am waiting for you to walk or a training session you’ve paid for that will hurt to forfeit will make you show.


Schedule it.

This is where many of my new clients have faltered. They didn’t get it done because something else came up. Things come up all the time. If you have a commitment on your calendar though you’re forced to move one or the other or turn down the conflict.

meditation-eyes-coveredDon’t Start It If You Don’t Like It.

If you’ve selected an activity because of the amount of calories it will burn or the results someone else got and you don’t love it, there’s already a break up in your future. Sometimes, it’s true you have to do some of the exercises you dislike most because they are your weak link. Yet, doing CrossFit because everyone else is doing it may not be your gig. Love to dance? Try some dance-inspired activity. True, we each need some strength, some cardio, and some mobility components in our exercise, but you need to find the right mix of love-to-do-that.

You can’t logically choose a goal your heart will be excited about.

Watch Your Mouth.

Be careful with your selection of words. Instead of “have to” exercise or “should” exercise, begin shifting to “want to” and “choose to” exercise. Instead of “I’m going to try” to exercise, commit to, “I’m going to do” xyz. Those subtle messages are reinforcing the way you feel about exercise.

Be Ready for Bad Days.

Whether it’s your energy level or your time that makes exercise challenging, there will always be those days. Improvement is never a linear path. Sometimes those days when you seem to take a step backward are clues you might need more rest days. Sometimes, though, they just happen. Be flexible and still be consistent. The good days will outnumber the bad.

Go Short.

Try a 20-20-20 program. Who has time for an hour of exercise any more? Not many of us. Break it into 20 minutes of cardio intervals, 20 minutes of weights, and 20 minutes of core and yoga. They don’t have to happen consecutively or even on the same day! Truth is, the effort and focus you maintain in 20 minutes can be better and get more results than an hour of exercise when you have no sense of urgency.


If you’re connecting the dots between your emotions, energy, and your exercise you’ll see a pattern. I’ve worked with people during my 32-year career that never liked exercise, even after seven years of paying me three times a week. Those were some challenging sessions! Yet, the way having exercised made those clients feel after kept them going. It can work for you too.

Ask the Right Question.

Are you going to be glad you did it in an hour when it’s over? That’s what you have to ask. There’s no question that the covers feel good right now. So that can’t be the question. Fast forward to your afternoon and your evening. Will you be glad you did it? Then the answer is yes.

Women Using Rowing Machine

Play Games.

Whether you’re training for a long endurance event or you’re trying to start a habit of regular exercise, your brain will wander if you let it. So don’t. Break 30 minutes into six five-minute segments. I’ll do 4:30 easy and 30 seconds hard. Next, I’ll do 2 minutes hard, 3 minutes easy. Change tempo with music cues. Change what you do so you’re mentally and physically engaged. The time will fly. Your fitness level may soar.

Have you got a trick that’s helped you stay committed to exercise for years? Share it!

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Circumference outside of both arms, at the armpit

Right Triceps
Halfway btwn shoulder & elbow, arm extended.

Find the widest point of girth at the hips

Right Thigh
Standing with weight on both legs, measure halfway between knee cap and hip flexor

Right Calf
Standing with weight on both legs, find the largest point of calf.

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Measure from the rib cage just under breasts at bra line

At the belly button/umbilicus

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