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9 Tips To Stay On The Workout Wagon

During last Friday’s Weekly Weigh-In, my friend Tania Dakka, a fellow writer who specializes in fitness, commented on the anticipation and mental blocks that often come with exercise.

The comment hit home for me, as there ALWAYS comes a time when I dread working out. I’ll procrastinate (“Wouldn’t organizing my sock drawer be a better use of time?”) or try to talk myself out of it (“Geez, cut yourself some slack – it’s okay to take four days off!”).

I realize I’m not alone in this, and I started thinking of ways to push through that procrastination – or deal with the dread – and stay on the workout wagon.

1. Think about how great you felt after your last workout.

Lately, one of the most beautiful words to me is “amazing” as it comes out of Jillian Micheals’s mouth after I finish another 30-minute “Yoga Meltdown” routine. My body feels strong and revived, my mind is clear and refreshed, and I know she’s not lying – it was an amazing workout. Whenever I start procrastinating or dreading the day’s routine, I think about that. I remind myself that I’ll feel that way again when it’s over.

When you’re dreading your next workout, think about how amazing you’ll feel afterward. Think of how energized or peaceful or centered you’ll feel. Remember how proud of yourself you were for completing your last workout. You want that feeling again, right? Yes!

2. Get a workout buddy.

Workout buddies are great for motivation!

Plus, setting a regular workout date with friends can help you stay in touch even when life’s everyday ordeals limit your time.

3. Make yourself accountable.

One of the best ways to get anything accomplished is to make yourself accountable.

When it comes to working out, you can do this by:

  • Getting a workout buddy.
  • Writing a blog.
  • Using social media like Twitter and Facebook to discuss and log your accomplishments.
  • Schedule a daily or weekly call with a family member, friend, or other loved one to talk about whether you met your goals that day or week.
  • Join an online or local community group focused on helping people meet their fitness goals.

4. Remember the physical health benefits.

We’re focusing a lot on the mental health benefits of exercise here at Your Body, Your Mind, but don’t forget that mental health and physical health can go hand-in-hand, and even if your brain is trying to talk you out of that daily run, your heart might be begging you for it.

5. Use the time to think.

For some people, working out is the only time they get to themselves to think about – well, anything they want to think about.

You absolutely should be focused and mindful during any workout; failing to do so can lead to a poor performance – not to mention injury. However, certain exercises like walking, running, and swimming, allow for a little mental wiggle room.

I’ve had some of my best epiphanies on the treadmill.

6. Use the time to AVOID thinking.

Some routines demand you clear your mind and focus on the present (such as yoga) while others are so demanding you really don’t have room to think about much else (such as aerobics).

Consider these kinds of workouts if you’re looking for a temporary escape, or want to give your mind a break from worrying.

7. Treat your workout like a prescription.

When you use exercise for mental health benefits, commit to it the same way you would a prescription medication.

Think about it: If your doctor tells you to take one antidepressant each day, you take that medication once a day, right? You don’t take one on Monday, then wait until Thursday to take another, then take three or four on Saturday.

Think of your workout or exercise routine as a prescription. Decide what you’re going to do (your medicine) and when you’re going to do it (your schedule), and stick to it.

8. Rethink your workout or schedule.

If the dread and procrastination just won’t ease up, maybe it’s time to rethink your workout or schedule.

Maybe you’re doing yoga when you should be running. Maybe you’re running when you should be doing Pilates. Maybe you’re working out six days a week when a Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule is better for you.

You get the idea.

Just because you can’t get a rhythm with what you’re doing now doesn’t mean you’re failing; it could just mean you need a new approach.

9. Give yourself a break.

Although some people like to, you don’t have to workout every single day.

For example, Dr. Edward R. Laskowski of the Mayo Clinic outlines how much exercise an adult should get each week, and he says nothing about working out every single day. Of course, his information is related to physical health benefits and not mental health benefits; still, sometimes our bodies and our minds need a break, so try scheduling a day or two off each week to rest.

REMEMBER: Although it’s natural, try to lay off the guilt. If you absolutely don’t want to workout on a particular day, don’t. Your body or mind could be trying to tell you it’s time to rest. Or, it might be that you’ve chosen the wrong routine, are ready for a new routine, or simply need to rethink your schedule. Take that day off and consider these points.

Now, readers: How do YOU stay on the workout wagon?

9 Tips To Stay On The Workout Wagon

Alicia Sparks

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APA Reference
Sparks, A. (2012). 9 Tips To Stay On The Workout Wagon. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 19, 2018, from


Last updated: 14 Mar 2012
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 14 Mar 2012
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