12 Ways to Stop Skipping Your Workouts


Exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, but let's face it — sometimes we'd rather binge watch Netflix than get up and sweat. That's okay every once in awhile, but if you're finding it harder and harder to make your workouts these days (or if you've stopped going to the gym altogether), consider these methods for staying motivated and on the move.

1. Exercise at the Time of Day You Feel Best Prepared

There's no hard-and-fast rule that says you have to exercise at a specific time of day. In fact, if the time of day that you're typically working out conflicts with the rest of your schedule, it may be time to make a change. You don't want to rush your workouts either. This is your chance to put all the other cares in the world aside for an hour or so and concentrate on you. And you owe it to yourself to engage in this activity at a time of day you feel best prepared.

"Everyone is unique in what time of day is the best for getting in a workout," says Amanda Buckley, a personal trainer and faculty member at George Washington University. "Ask yourself at what time do you feel best after a workout. If evenings are difficult due to a lack of energy, try switching to a morning or lunch break training session. Maybe you use exercise to beat stress and may find a post-work exercise session to be just what you need to clear your brain."

2. Fortify Your Workouts With a Partner

I work out in different scenarios all week long, but none of them are by myself. Like many people, I'm not a self-motivator when it comes to exercise (aside from running outdoors), so I fill my exercise schedule with personal training, high-intensity interval training, and classes at my gym that I take with my buddies. Having other people hold me accountable for working out (mostly by ragging on me on days I don't feel like doing it until I cave) helps me spend more time in the gym that I'm ultimately thankful for when the workout is over. If you have a similar issue, find a partner who can help you stay motivated and whom you also can keep motivated. The buddy system works for children, and it can apply to adulthood as well.

3. Start Setting Fitness Goals

When I started getting serious about my fitness, I had one goal — to lose weight. Once I lost the weight, however, I had confidence in my athletic abilities enough to start creating new goals, like building muscle mass. That's much harder than losing weight, of course, so it's a work in progress, but I stay committed to my workouts because I have goals that I'm always trying to achieve.

"Many of us work out for myriad reasons: our health, to look and feel good, beat stress, and more," Buckley says. "Setting goals that align with your training will give you a sense of accomplishment and allow you to track your progress. Goals can be long or short term, but should be measured every four to six weeks to track progress and allow for modifications."

4. Hire a Personal Trainer

One of the best things I did for myself when I took charge of my health was to hire a personal trainer. I went back and forth with the idea because of the cost, but when I really asked myself, What is my health worth? the decision was a no-brainer. I could also justify the expense even more since I made a lifestyle change to eat out and order in on a much less frequent basis, the difference in cost of which pretty much evened out.

"Hiring a personal trainer may seem like a financial burden, but it can take your workouts to new levels," says Buckley. "Similar to a workout partner, a trainer can hold you accountable. Think of your trainer as an insurance policy to help you overcome obstacles."

5. Change Up Your Routine to Keep It Fresh

If you're skipping your workouts because you're bored, there's an easy solution to that problem: Change up your routine so you're getting fit and having fun at the same time.

Rob Arthur, a fitness, nutrition and lifestyle coach in Lexington, Kentucky, warns of letting your routine become stagnant as it greatly reduces the chance of long-term compliance.

"To prevent burnout, it's beneficial to periodically ask yourself, Am I enjoying this? while working out. If you notice the answer becoming a repeated 'no' for a period of several days or weeks, it may be a sign that it's time to switch things up and try something new," he suggests.

To shake up your routine, try a new dance or martial arts class at your gym. If you liked organized sports, join a team or become a member of your local running club. If you'd prefer to be surrounded by nature when you sweat, give hiking or trail running a try. If you're open minded about what to try next, your fitness options are truly endless.

6. Schedule a Race or Competition

I've signed up for several races and competitions over the past couple years, and I've really enjoyed them. While the actual event helps me push myself harder than I normally do, the lead up also helps keep me motivated in the gym so I can improve my race times when it's time to get down and dirty.

The key to race success is the right training plan. The amount of training your body needs to prepare all depends on the race you're doing, but it's important to start slow, and stay consistent. Install the Couch to 5k race coach on your smartphone and signup for a local 5k run!

7. Build a Library of Fitness DVDs

I'm not much of a DVD watcher myself, but if fitness DVDs help you get moving, go for it. You can find lots of titles on Amazon at relatively cheap prices, or you can check your local library for rentals. (See also: The 5 Best Exercise Videos)

"A large library of workout DVDs means that you can always find something to suit your mood," says Sophia Dembling, who reviews workout DVDs for the Dallas Morning News. "Some days I crave the long, tranquil stretch of yoga, some days I want to dance around and blow off steam, and some days I'm feeling like a weenie and want a not-too-taxing walking workout. I almost never crave strength training, but I know it's necessary, so I keep a variety of strength DVDs handy, too. Because I've been working out regularly for a long, long, long time, my biggest obstacle is boredom. Having a lot of variety in my workout library makes it harder for me to blow off my workout because I can (almost) always find something that sounds like fun."

8. Stop Writing Off Short Sessions

"Often, people skip workouts because they feel that if they cannot complete the entire planned session, there's no point in even starting. In reality, it's better to do something rather than nothing at all," explains Arthur. "For instance, imagine we are planning a one-hour workout and something comes up that cuts our spare time in half. It is tempting to think, Well, I only have 30 minutes today so there's no point in even going to the gym. However, rather than consider anything less than the full session to be a success, we should accept the fact that we may not be able to do all that we planned, but that we will be ahead of the curve if we do as much as we can with the time we have."

9. Focus More On the Food You're Eating

I can attest to this myself that 75% of my weight loss success was completely changing my diet. I stopped eating pizza multiple times a week and replaced that junk with lean protein and vegetables. I would have dropped a few pounds just on the healthier diet, but I had bigger goals that required more exercise. For you, however, if your goals aren't huge, maybe you don't have to workout as much as you think, so long as you're committed to eating healthy on a regular basis.

"If you're looking to lose weight, food should be the most important part of your plan," says Shane Allen, a certified personal trainer and sports nutritionist. "Avoid starchy carbs, sugar, and alcohol while focusing on eating real meats, vegetables, eggs, cheeses, and nuts. If you're doing that, all you really have to do is walk 20 minutes a day. No need for insane workouts or crazy workout dance classes."

10. Put a Treadmill in Front of Your TV

Nearly every gym in America has TVs available to watch while you're on the treadmill, and they're there for one specific reason: You'll spend more time doing the mundane task of walking or running if you're otherwise engaged. Thus, if you find it harder to get to the gym when you want, consider bringing the gym to you. Invest in a treadmill and set it up in front of your television to fit in more exercise while you're at home.

11. Find a Gym That's Along Your Usual Route

One of my biggest detractors from working out regularly was having memberships to gyms that were out of my way. Specifically, I remember one gym that was on the opposite side of the road on my route home from work, and it required that I make a u-turn to get there. More often than not, I would just say, "screw it" and go home. To avoid this problem, find a gym that's convenient, accessible, and doesn't require you to go out of your way. If it's easy to get to, you'll go more often.

12. Track Your Progress

My friends make fun of me for taking so many selfies — clothed and shirtless — but I take it in stride. It took me a long time (and a lot of work) to be comfortable and even proud of my body, and now I want to show it off — not only for the progress I've made, but also as a motivator to continue making progress. You should track your fitness journey so you can see the results whenever you want, and to remember why you're working out in the first place.

"It could be progress pictures, your mile time, or the amount of weight you can squat," suggests Kyra Williams, a USA weightlifting and powerlifting coach and nutrition expert. "Seeing progress whether it's physical or performance based is motivating and will make you want to keep going."

Do you have other tips to offer on how to stop skipping workouts? Let me know in the comments below.

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