7 Ways to Boost Your Motivation to Exercise

Featured Article, Fitness, Motivation
on March 13, 2013
How to find motivation for working out.

Spry editor Lisa Delaney is one of the rare souls who know what it’s like to be an “after.” This journalist and author of Secrets of a Former Fat Girl shed 70 pounds—and six dress sizes–and has kept it off for 20 years. She answers your questions here each week.

DEAR FORMER FAT GIRL: Help! I started the new year really strong, but now my motivation to exercise is bottoming out. What can I do to get it back?—Amy

DEAR AMY: You too? I’ve been feeling rather lackadaisical myself about exercise lately, too. Yes, even Former Fat Girls like me need help staying motivated. I look at motivation to exercise as a fire that needs to be fed, or it will just die out. And that goes as much for Future Former Fat Girls as the most elite of elite athletes.

Since this is a never-ending challenge, I am always looking for creative ways of finding my motivation mojo. I found several new tricks in the book, The Unapologetic Fat Girl’s Guide to Exercise (and Other Incendiary Acts), by Hanne Blank. The book, which came out in December (yes, it’s taken me a while to get through my stack …), is a rabble-rousing read rallying around the idea that we all have a right to move in this world—no matter what we look like, how old we are, etc. Blank is funny and insightful, providing a great resource for plus-sized people who simply want to move comfortably, regularly, without fear or shame or judgment.

You will have to buy the book to get the sum total of her wise advice, but here are some of Blank’s particularly inventive ideas for goals—big and small—that can boost your motivation to exercise.

1. Use a pedometer to track your average daily movement for a week. Then, each day for the following week, see if you can beat your average by 500 steps.

2. Try Blank’s Two-Week Variety Challenge—do a different activity for 30 minutes a day, every day for two weeks.

3. Learn two stretches you can do regularly during the day, and mark your calendar every day you do them. See how many consecutive days of stretching you can rack up—and when you get to 100 days, give yourself a little prize. (Ms. Inflexible here is going to try this one starting TODAY!)

RELATED: Lost Your Motivation to Exercise?

4. During the rest of the year, pledge to attend 50 classes of your favorite group exercise. Keep a tally on your calendar, and celebrate—however you like—when you reach your goal.

5. See how many flights of stairs you can climb in a day just going about your usual business.

6. Plan a vacation—now!—that involves biking, hiking, canoeing, etc. (See my list of dream trips for ideas!)

7. Try the 100 Sit-Ups Challenge or 100 Push-Ups Challenge (you can download a workout plan here).

Most of these ideas follow the same pattern: They ask you to commit to a specific goal and track your progress to that goal. You can, basically, apply those principles to whatever workout or pursuit you choose.  Think about how you can take your current routine and challenge yourself: set a goal, give it a time frame, track your progress, and dream up a way to reward yourself. That, my dear Amy, could just be the formula to keep you going.

Lisa Delaney is editor of Spry magazine and Spryliving.com. Ask her your question here.