10 Ways to Revive Your Resolution to Exercise

The new year is already into its third month, and if you haven't yet lost weight, stopped smoking, eaten more vegetables, exercised regularly, or started to fulfill any other New Year's resolutions by now, chances are it's not going to happen.

Unless. Unless you can get over that mental hump that stops you from exercising — the most common resolution at the beginning of the year as people seek to lose weight and get in shape.

How to do it? I’ve come up with 10 ways to ensure you exercise, and while not all of them will work for everyone, at least one of these should spur you to get back on the path to exercising if you've fallen off. (See also: 15 Ways to Exercise in Under 5 Minutes)

1. Apps

There are enough health and fitness apps in the Apple Store that you could spend a year going through them. One of my favorites, which I discovered at MedicalInsurance.net, is My Fitness Pal. It helps keep track of what you eat and how much you exercise. I mostly use it to track my meals, and I sync it with the Fitbit app to track how much I exercise. There are plenty of other apps to track diet and exercise, and I'd recommend using free ones at first, such as a free pedometer, to see if you like it.

2. Pedometer

This is a fun way to measure how many steps you take in a day, and I like to track my progress after a walk or gym workout. I use a Fitbit pedometer, which keeps track of how many steps, miles, and stairs I've walked. It also tracks calories burned, which is an incentive to exercise, although too often the Fitbit and My Fitness Pal apps disagree on how many calories I've burned when they sync. From $60 to $100, the Fitbit can either be clipped to a pocket or worn around the wrist.

3. Get a Nudge

It could be a friend urging you on, a spouse encouraging you to go to the gym, or a strong conscience helping to ensure you exercise. An alarm reminder that you set up on your smartphone to tell you that it's time to get moving may be enough incentive. If those nudges don't work, another interesting option is a text message from Coach Alba, an adaptive technology that sends users text messages when they have "crucial moments," says Vince Han, founder and CEO of Coach Alba.

Targeted at people who have chronic weight loss problems, the $5 monthly service learns from users' texts when they're most likely to overeat, such as when watching TV or when stressed. It responds with alternatives, such as brushing their teeth or reminding them it's time for a workout. While mostly used to avoid temptations such as late-night snacking, Coach Alba could be used as a nudge to get exercising when food cravings hit.

4. Find Internal Motivation

External motivations such as a goal of losing 10 pounds or running a marathon can be great, but failing to meet them or even meeting them may not help you continue exercising after they've been met or you've given up. Internal motivations will last longer and are more likely to encourage you to exercise, says Ryan Hurst, program director at Gold Medal Bodies.

Instead of trying to impress other people with an external motivation, an internal motivation could be to become strong and healthy so that you can be there for your children and family as you age, Hurst suggests.

5. Schedule It

If a nudge from a friend or app isn't enough, schedule exercise like you would a meeting or doctor's appointment, recommends Kimberly Fowler, the author of a book on yoga. You don't miss a meeting with the boss, forget to pick your kid up at school, or miss dental appointments, so scheduling exercise should make it easier to achieve. Also tell your social networks so that, like the nudges suggestion above, other people will see it on your schedule and encourage you to do it.

6. Find Activities You Enjoy

Going to the gym day after day for the same workout probably won't encourage you to exercise enough, so find an exercise you enjoy, says Charla McMillian, a certified strength and conditioning specialist. It could be dancing, jumping, biking, swimming, or playing in the back yard with your children.

7. Determine Immediate Rewards

The long-term rewards of exercise are what too many people focus on — such as the vague phrase "get healthy" — and are less likely to get people motivated to exercise daily than immediate rewards such as improving their daily quality of life, says Michelle Segar, a healthy living motivation researcher at the University of Michigan. These can include reduced stress, being in a better mood, and feeling stronger. If you feel good after exercising, that's a good incentive to keep doing it.

8. Recruit Friends

Get a friend to join you, giving both of you motivation. "Working out is more fun with other people, and you're more likely to stick with working out if you're accountable to another person," says Chris Mosier, a certified personal trainer in New York City.

9. Exercise in the Morning

This is a way to get it out of the way so that it's not something you dread doing later or find the excuse to put off if you've had a rough day at work, Mosier says.

10. Prepare the Night Before

Set your workout clothes out the night before and leave them where you'll see them in the morning, Mosier says. That way, they'll be staring you in the face when you get up, and it will be easier to get dressed and get started.

If you can't get back to exercising yet, remember that it's only March and it's not too late to start fulfilling your resolutions. Let us know which work best for you.

Have you kept your resolution to get more exercise? How are you staying motivated?

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Guest's picture

For just over a month I started excercising, counting calories, and eating more fruits/vegetables. I've lost 15 lbs already. I use fitday.com I still allow myself 0-2 mountain dew cans a week and I just had take out pizza over the weekend.

It's important when you start your path to being healthier that you allow yourself, in moderation, some treats. If you deprave yourself then later on you'll get a big craving and risk losing all your progress.

Excercise in the morning is a no go. When I get home from my 10 hour a day job I take a few minutes to set my stuff down and breath. Then I put in a dvd or tv show, get on my indoor bike, and ride for 45-60 minutes. I do this 5-7 days a week. It's important for me to get started within 30 minutes of getting home or else I won't have the motivation to do it at all.

Using fitday.com lets me keep track of the calories I consume, see how many I have burned, what nutrition for the day, week, month I've had, etc. I created a weight goal, and the site tells me how many more calories a day I need to burn over what I consume in order to reach that goal.

If I want to lose 1 lb a week, then I need to burn 500 more calories than I eat a day every day of the week. 1lb = 3500 calories. It's recommended not to lose more than 2 lbs a week. Keeping this in mind is important because so many people (including me) want the weight loss to happen overnight, but unfortunately it doesn't work that way. If you want to lose 50 lbs it will take months, not weeks. (realistically)

It's possible to lose weight while still watching tv and enjoying treats. All in moderation. :)

Guest's picture

The best advice I ever heard was from a supermodel, who said she puts on her workout clothes right when she gets out of bed. Anyone can make an excuse not to go to the gym, but when you are already dressed for it, it is a lot more difficult to find a plausible reason to skip it.

Guest's picture

Finding what you enjoy is vital. Not everyone loves running, not everyone loves Zumba and not everyone loves the elliptical. The key to sticking to a fitness routine is to figure out which kind of exercise you like best and actually feel good and happy while doing. Of course you won't stick to something that you dread doing everyday. Music also really helps! Get yourself an iPod and make some great playlists and that could mean all of the difference.

Guest's picture

I agree! I love to swim but don't have a pool so I signed up with my college alma mater and only pay $40 per month for the entire gym and pool, which is a steal. Also, students are gone in the summer (with very few exceptions) so I'm the only one in the olympic sized pool most days :)