Get Motivated! How to Find (and Stick to) a Workout Plan

Top trainers share the secrets to staying on track.

woman working out
Photo Credit: Andrew Rich/iStock

Write down your goals. “When in doubt — write it out.” When you put down on paper what your ultimate goals (as well your mini-goals along the way) you’ll be more likely to commit to staying on your workout schedule.

Schedule your workouts: Honor your calendar. Be sure to put every single workout into your calendar so you will be more likely to honor your schedule.

Clear your pantry of all garbage foods (all of it!). Eliminate all of your trigger foods from your kitchen including processed foods, sweets, and not good-for-you carbs. If they are not within reach you will be less tempted to indulge in treats.

Rest days are important. So many brides to be think they should spend every free chance at the gym to achieve their best body — but you can overdo it and ultimately cause more damage if you do not take a day off from time to time. Your body needs to rest in order to repair itself after super-tough workouts, including CrossFit, boot camps and long runs. At least one day per week should be devoted to rest.

Aim for inches lost and not pounds. The scale does not tell the whole story. You will get a better idea of how well your body is responding to exercise when you measure inches lost.

Be sure to mix it up. After a few weeks, your body will adapt to any workout routine, so be sure to try something new once in a while to give your body and mind a boost. For example: if you normally go for a run on Saturday mornings, switch it out for a kick boxing or spin class once in a while.

New York City-based trainer/blogger Margo Donohue of Brooklyn Fit Chick

Envision your arms and shoulders on the big day and do something small each day to reach your goal. Start with a few pushups a day and get into a daily routine. Add a few reps each week.

Workout buddies make great dates. While we’re quick to forego a workout to stay late at the office, we won’t bail on a friend.

Attitude is 80%, so don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day. Life happens, so just focus on something you can do, such as eat a healthy meal and drink more water.

Document your own before/after story. Be accountable to someone, and schedule weekly weigh-ins and measurements.

Add your workouts to your weekly calendar and set alarm for an hour before so you can finish up whatever you’re doing to make sure you get to class on time. And if you can’t break, reschedule your workout for later in the day when you can.

When the stress of wedding planning has you overwhelmed, schedule a sweat session to clear your mind. Opt for a high intensity class (like boxing) or something more Zen (like yoga). 

FITiST co-founders Neda Talebian Funk and Caroline Limpert

Explore indoor activities. There are a lot of ways to move your body indoors that are motivating, rewarding and fun. Try a swing dance class, take up boxing, do a Pilates reformer session, or hire a trainer to teach you some Olympic lifts. Participating in indoor activities allows you forego the worry of being foiled by the weather, and having an activity to look forward to all week will ensure that you push hard through your regular gym workouts.
Do fewer repetitions at a heavier weight. If you usually do 12-15 lunges per leg, switch it up. Try doing 8-10 reps per leg but with a more challenging weight. You should push yourself — it should feel like there’s no way you could squeeze out one more rep. For an even harder challenge, do 5 sets of 5 reps per leg at the heaviest weight that you can sustain while keeping perfect form. Women tend to be stronger than we give ourselves credit for, and continuing to do higher reps cheats you of the fat-burning, muscle sculpting benefits of a low rep/high weight program! Follow the lower rep program for 4-6 weeks and you’ll see (and feel) the difference.

Come up with a pre-workout ritual. This will vary from person to person, but find something that works for you that you can do before every single workout.  Examples include getting a black coffee, watching an inspiring video, re-reading your list of goals, listening to a particular song that pumps you up, doing some breathing mediation, foam rolling, repeating a mantra, sun salutations, posting that day’s workout on Facebook, or even a combination of these things. Whatever you choose, just make sure that it makes you feel energized and ready, and it’s something that you can repeat. This will provide a mental barrier between the stresses of life and gym-time, allowing you to properly switch gears and prepare you to work hard.  Eventually, just the act of performing this pre-workout routine will put you in the mood to work out.

Peak Performance trainer Jessi Kneeland

Take on a sport and learn to execute just like an athlete. I have my clients take on a fighter’s mentality. I just make sure they get fit, not hit. You will feel the physical as well as the mental benefits of working out with a purpose.

Aerospace co-founder Michael Olajide, Jr..