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Help, I Can’t Get Motivated

Tips for starting an exercise plan — and sticking with it.



It can be hard getting back into exercise and healthy eating after a holiday or break from routine. While you may be desperate to lose weight, tone up, or improve your fitness, sometimes getting started is the hardest part, which is why a "team" approach can help.

Team sports have a unique sense of camaraderie, so even if you're dreading the workout, your urge to socialize will help you show up for training sessions. The team spirit will also help motivate you so as not to let your teammates down.

Find a friend who has similar fitness goals and arrange to do your workouts together. Having someone to go with and chat with in the changing rooms is sometimes enough to get you out the door. You can even try home workouts and DVDs together.

This not only turns exercise into a social occasion where you can catch up with friends, it also reduces the chances of quitting, slowing down, or giving up. When you see someone with the same fitness levels as you performing a move at a certain level, it makes you believe you can do it, too.

Another good tip is to exercise for charity. To give yourself that extra push, sometimes all you need is to forget about your own worries and do it for someone in need. Which is why sponsored events and charity runs work so well. Everyone is working for the same good cause, and the atmosphere is relaxed and encouraging. Five kilometer races are a great place to start. Not only will you have a feeling of satisfaction for helping out a good cause, you'll also have completed a fitness challenge. Who knows? You might even get the bug and move on to a bigger challenge in the future.

If you're really struggling to motivate yourself, the answer may be to pay someone else to help. Personal trainers are great at what they do not only because of their knowledge but because they are usually good at motivating people to achieve their goals. Whether you want to lose weight, tone up all over, or build strength, your personal trainer will tailor your workouts to your ambitions and make sure you get through every grueling exercise. Personal training sessions are also a great opportunity to try out new gizmos and equipment, such as the Power Plate or TRX, which you may not have the guts to tackle on your own.

Another way to stay committed to an exercise program is to tell anyone who will listen about your goals, plans, and progress. Start a blog and make sure you update it every day, tracking your workouts, nutrition, and emotions about everything that is happening in your life, health-wise. Then, if you slack off, everyone will know about it, giving you more of an incentive to stick to your training and diet plan. It's also a handy way to track setbacks. If, for instance, you come across the same setbacks more than once, you'll know how you overcame them the first time.

Losing face is something we all want to avoid, so let that be your motivator and tell the whole world about your achievements, even if they're not listening too carefully.

If self-motivation isn't your forte, then group exercise may be the answer. Most gyms offer fun fitness classes from Boxercise to Zumba, and they're a fantastic way to meet new, like-minded people. Check your gym for its list of classes and make sure you sign up to two or three different sessions a week. This will help you keep your exercise regime varied and will avoid boredom setting in. It might take a few tries to find the classes you like best, but once you've found them, you'll be eager to get to the gym and into that workout gear. It will be fun, not a chore.

Unlike with a run, there's a slimmer chance of procrastinating and putting off your workout until later, since the classes are scheduled and they won't wait for you.

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