A Fitness Motivation Toolbox

Originally Featured on Boston.com: 4/24/2013

It might come as a surprise to you, but even fitness professionals occasionally lack motivation to exercise or eat well. There are times when I'd rather take a nap or tackle my never ending to-do list than hit the gym. What I do to stay on track, and what can help you too, is to create a figurative motivation toolbox; something to keep you focused on your health and fitness journey, or to fall back on when the impetus to exercise wanes. Here are several ideas on what to develop or include.

Music: Create a fitness playlist filled with your favorite songs to amp you up. Nothing helps me get through tough workouts more than my playlist. Whenever I hear Eminem's "Till I Collapse" or Fort Minor's"Remember the Name", I instantly become focused and energized.

Images and Phrases: Hanging on my bulletin board is a paper I created filled with images of fit female athletes whose strength and physiques I find inspirational. You can also use pictures of yourself when you were at your goal weight or in better shape. I also include uplifting words or quotes among the images. For example, I have on mine, "you can throw in the towel, or you can use it to wipe the sweat of your face", and "a year from now you will wish you had started today."

Advantages Response Card: This is an idea I use that's from The Beck Diet Solution by Judith S. Beck. It requires writing down on an index card all of the reasons why your health goal is important to you and worth the hard work. List the most important ones first. Examples include: to boost my self esteem, to feel comfortable in different situations, because this has been a goal of mine for years, to feel strong and capable, or to reduce stress. Create several of these and keep one at home, one at work or in the car, and read through them often, especially in the morning and before dinner.

10 Minute Rule: Next time you try to talk yourself out of a workout, exercise for at least 10 minutes then stop if you want. Most likely, you'll feel good once you start and can find the will to keep going for five or ten more minutes.

Plan Rewards: Setting small rewards for staying on track or reaching goals can help in a big way. For instance, if your goal is to exercise 12 times in a month, you might plan a small treat once you reach that number. Rewards could include getting a massage, new workout clothes, tickets to a sporting event, manicure, or dining out for a healthy dinner.

Dress to Impress: Not anyone else, but yourself! Dress in workout clothes or sneakers that you love to put on, and that keep you feeling comfortable and confident. Whether that's bright sneakers, a great fitting tanktop, or a shirt with a motivational phrase. One of my favorite workout shirts was made by my Spartan race team, and it says, "I may not be the strongest, I may not be the fastest, but Ill be damned if I'm not trying my hardest." Just wearing it reminds me of that day and excites me to sweat, move, and lift.

Id love to hear from you! What do you use to motivate yourself to exercise?