How to Maintain Your Workout Motivation All Year Long

When you first start a new fitness routine, you are energized and your motivation levels are at an all-time high. But over time, that motivation begins to wane and what used to seem easy to do (popping in that workout DVD, heading out for a walk or getting to the gym) is now like pulling teeth. Can you relate?

While eating right and cutting excess calories can help you lose weight, working out is an integral part to making sure that you maintain lean muscle mass, flood your body with those important feel-good endorphins, and improve your overall cardiovascular health. Regular exercise can also  help you lose weight since it burns calories and fat.

So, if you're thinking of skipping a few workouts—don't! Just follow these motivational tips to keep your body moving today, tomorrow, next month—and beyond!

Work Out Right Now

Get dressed. Sometimes the simple act of putting on your workout clothes and running shoes is the best remedy to change your mind from "I want to lie around and watch TV" to "I'm psyched to hit the gym!" Think of athletes getting ready for a big event, or a successful businessperson getting ready for an important meeting. They dress for success, wearing the appropriate clothing to get in the mindset. While every workout may not be a life-changing experience, borrow this idea for motivation. As soon as the workout clothes go on, your mind should go into exercise mode. And if you've just come home from a long day at work, kicking off your dress shoes and putting on your running shoes can put some serious pep in your step!

Brush your teeth. Although researchers aren't sure why, peppermint seems to have an energizing, wake-up effect on most of us. If you're having problems getting up and going for your morning walk, just pop a small piece of peppermint or brush your teeth! This will awaken the senses and get you feeling energized in no time. It's also been hypothesized that peppermint can combat cravings, so when you combine regular workouts with fewer cravings, it's a win-win!​​​​​​​

Do 20 jumping jacks. The hardest part of getting started with a workout is, well, getting started! So instead of setting a daunting goal of a 60-minute cardio session, start small. Promise yourself that you just have to do five or 10 minutes. Or, start off with something easy and manageable such as 20 jumping jacks. Once you get going, you'll forget why it was so hard to get started in the first place.

Pump up the jams. When you're in the mood to exercise, playing a pump-you-up song can do wonders to change your mindset! In fact, a study by the North American Association for the Study of Obesity found that women are more likely to stick to an exercise program if they listen to music while working out—especially if they like the music. But don't just listen to music during your workouts—listen before you exercise to reap the energizing benefits. Play your favorite tracks while you're getting ready or driving to the gym. It will get you pumped!<pagebreak>​​​​​​​

Work Out Tomorrow

Schedule it. One of the best tips for making sure you exercise tomorrow is taking the option out of the equation. Would you miss a scheduled doctor's appointment? How about a date with a friend? Of course not! So don't make it an option to skip your workout. Schedule it in your planner and treat it as you would any other important appointment.

Reward yourself. Sometimes, something as simple as a new pair of running shorts, a 30-minute massage or a relaxing, hot bath can be all the motivation you need. Set up a rewards system for regular workouts that allows you to work toward something you love to do or really want. It can be as simple as working out for 30 minutes three times a week for two weeks, or even giving yourself a small reward after doing that full workout DVD tomorrow. You can even add a dollar to your "workout piggy bank" each time you fit in some exercise. Once that dollar amount adds up, you can cash it in for something you really want! In fact, in a 2009 National Bureau of Economic Research study, researchers found that subjects lost more weight when given financial rewards. Use that research to your benefit!

Work out during your favorite TV show. If you have trouble going to the gym because the television is calling, use that to your advantage! Schedule your gym time while your favorite shows are on, then grab a treadmill, bike or elliptical in front of a TV. You can also squeeze in a lot of strength and flexibility training while you sit on the couch or stand in front of the tube, so be creative!

Find a photo. Is there someone or something that inspires you? If so, find a photo and place it where you'll see it every day. It can be something as simple as a swimsuit you love, a clear blue sky signifying freedom from excess weight, or even a photo of a healthy person you admire. Look at that photo every day when you wake up and before you go to sleep. This act will help you reconnect with the reasons why exercising is important to you—and set you up for success tomorrow.<pagebreak>​​​​​​​

Work Out Next Month—and Beyond!

Track your fitness minutes. Always track your fitness minutes, and consider joining a fitness-minutes challenge to keep you committed for the long haul. You'll be amazed at how inspiring and motivational it is to watch those minutes—and pounds lost—add up over time.

Subscribe to a healthy living magazine. Getting a dose of healthy inspiration in the mail every month is a fantastic way to stay motivated. Be sure to pick a magazine that features healthy, fit bodies instead of unrealistically thin models. According to research by the American College of Sports Medicine, women who read hardcore fitness magazines while exercising were more anxious, depressed and in an all-around poorer mood after exercise than before. Researchers also looked at this issue in men and found that muscle magazines can make guys feel anxious—another negative emotion. So choose your reading material wisely to reap the best results.

Look at yourself in the mirror. The mirror may not be your best friend now, but making it a good friend may be key to getting you to the gym in the long run. A study in the International Journal of Eating Disorders found that mirror-exposure therapy—staring at your body in the mirror and replacing criticism with more positive thoughts and affirmations—can improve body image. And with improved body image comes the confidence to continue taking good care of yourself. So, instead of thinking, "I have big legs" change your thought to, "I have strong legs that get me through group cycling class." Before you know it, your "problem areas" will no longer be your biggest enemy.

Revisit your goals. Keeping up with your workout routine can sometimes be as simple as reminding yourself why you got started in the first place. Does diabetes run in your family? Are you unable to keep up with your kids? Do you want to feel more comfortable in a swimsuit? Think about your goal and how exercise can help you get there.

See? Lack of motivation doesn't have to put a damper on your fitness goals. Simply follow these tips to keep your body moving all year long!