You want to feel fitter, stronger and look great. You want to fit into your clothes more comfortably. You want to exercise regularly. You know you always feel better after doing a workout … but you just can’t seem to get off the sofa and actually start doing it!  Sound familiar?

Most people would agree that the hardest part about exercising is getting started.  Once you’re doing your workout you enjoy it and when you have finished you always feel pleased that you did it and you leave feeling energised and happy.

Staying motivated is extremely important when it comes to building exercise in to your lifestyle as a regular habit.   But what is motivation?  Well, it’s a mixture of ‘feeling’ and ‘action’.  Motivation is that something extra, the X-factor, that pushes us from thinking about exercising, to actually doing it. Many people think that motivation will come to them, so they choose to put off exercise for the moment because they don’t ‘have’ the motivation … so they decide to wait until they ‘get’ the motivation. It is important however, to realise that you could be waiting a long time for this, because motivation won’t be ‘sent’ to you.  Motivation is something we choose, something we create.

So how do we create our motivation?

Goal – anyone who has ever thought about exercising, has had a goal. Whether they thought it or not. Your goal may be to lose weight, to become stronger, to look better, to feel mentally healthier, to recover after an illness or injury or want to generally keep your body as healthy as you can so you can enjoy a long and active life.  Whatever it is, you have to have a goal.  This is where your motivation will grow from.

Plan – once you decide you want to exercise, make a plan.  It doesn’t need to be a detailed plan, typed up and bound into a document (unless of course that helps you!), but just a rough idea in your head is all you need. Your planning stage is made up of smaller goals, such as what type of exercise you want to do that week/day, how long you are going to exercise for, when you are going to do it, who you are going to do it with etc. Also try and make it as easy as possible for you to be able to do it. Make it achievable. So don’t aim to do a 30 min run if you hate running and don’t plan to exercise before work every morning if you know you always run late in the mornings – because the exercise plan will likely be dropped!

Be Flexible – sometimes life takes over and your best plans don’t follow through.  Instead of ditching the exercise all together, think of a different way you can exercise instead. It doesn’t need to be as long or intense as your original plan, but doing SOMETHING will be better than doing nothing at all.

Stick with it – make a promise to yourself that you will stick with it. Not to stick to a ridged plan, but to stick with exercising. Remember you have chosen to exercise because of your goal that you want to achieve. Remember that and go with the flow of life, weaving in exercise as and when you can.

Enjoy it – if you don’t enjoy exercise, you may not stick with it. Choose a form of activity that you really enjoy doing. If the type of exercise you’re doing starts feeling like a chore, then change it to something else you will enjoy. If you have fun you will want to do it again and again and again – this will breed your motivation.

So that’s how we begin to create our motivation for exercise. But what about continuing it? What about when it’s time for you to do your workout but ‘you can’t be bothered’ or you seem to find many other excuses to not do it. It’s at these moments you need to remind yourself of the ‘feeling’ and the ‘action’.

1) Think of how good you feel during and after your workout. Visualisation is a great tool. Picture yourself working out and feel how good it is. Imagine you have just finished your workout and think about how happy you are that you’ve done it, and that you’re another step closer to your goal.

2) Think about the benefits you will gain by completing your upcoming workout, whether it is fat burned, or muscles built. Again visualise yourself when you’ve reached your goal. This creates more short term motivation to do your workout as you know it’ll be a step closer to that ‘end image’.

3) Grab a friend to workout with. If this helps create more motivation for you, then pick up the phone and ask a friend to come along with you this time. It’s also a great opportunity to catch up with the gossip!

4) Remember that a workout improves your mood and helps alleviate depression. You can blow away the cobwebs of the day from the office/looking after the kids. Choose that you don’t want to keep the sluggish feeling. A workout is great for invigorating your body and clearing your mind.

5) Remember YOU made a plan that you want to stick to. You’re doing this for YOU.

6) Remember you can be flexible. This tip is sometimes the most important. If you really don’t think you can face your full workout scheduled, then adapt it. For example, promise yourself you’ll do at least 15 mins of the hour planned. Once you get going you may surprise yourself and complete the hour. And if not, don’t feel disappointed about it, because then you’ve done 15 mins more than what you would have done if you chose to sit on the sofa.   All those 15 mins add up and work towards achieving your goal.

So go now and set your goals for the next week. Choose to continuously create your own motivation. Once you do, you’ll have a tool for life, and there will be no looking back………