Weekly regimens of cardio workouts, strength training and healthy eats are replaced by couch time, Netflix and takeout, and just the thought of dragging our butt to the gym is enough to make us audibly groan.
Hey, it happens.
So how do you get back on track after a fitness hiatus and actually make your motivation go the distance? These foolproof tips are exactly what you need.
Get a buddy.1 of 27
OK, so you've probably heard this one before, but it bears repeating because it works. Finding a gym buddy, running buddy or even a Sunday meal prep buddy can do wonders for staying on track throughout the year.
Not only do you have all the accountability and motivation you could possibly need, but associating healthy habits with fun friend time will make the gym seem less like a chore.
Sign up for a race.2 of 27
Take a cue from devoted runners, and sign up for numerous races months in advance (hello, discounts). Space them out throughout the year to make sure you're staying active every season. It can be a mud run, a half marathon, a neighborhood 5K—whatever gets you moving.
Adopt a dog.3 of 27
If you needed yet another reason to rescue a furry friend, this is it. Dogs get you outdoors and moving, plain and simple. Even 10-minute walks, three times a day, is enough to meet the requirements for daily physical activity.
Join a charity challenge.4 of 27
Are you someone motivated by a good cause? Then put your goodwill to good use by signing up for a charity challenge. These can take many forms, but keep in mind that even your average 5K usually has a charity component.
Another great option? Download the Charity Miles app. Each mile earns money for a charity of your choosing.
Take baby steps.5 of 27
One great way to feel "over" your gym routine is to rush into it right away. If you want to start working out or running in the mornings, committing right off the bat to five or six mornings a week, no matter what, forever and ever amen, is a surefire way to experience burnout.
Take baby steps. Try just a couple days a week and see how you feel. You can always add more as you go along.
Buy new workout clothes.6 of 27
Nothing motivates you to stick to a healthy lifestyle quite like buying the wardrobe to match it. It may seem vain to spend money on even more tights, tanks, shorts and shoes, but try to see it as an investment in your health. If a few new items every few months reinvigorates you, that's a worthwhile cost in your quest for long-term health.
Meal prep.7 of 27
Good nutrition and a great workout go hand-in-hand. You've likely experienced this if you've ever started a new workout program and then somehow, magically, found yourself eating healthier. Why ruin all that hard work, right?
The same can work in reverse. Meal prep healthy foods (don't forget snacks!), and you'll feel more motivated—not to mention have more time—to hit the gym.
Switch up your routine.8 of 27
You're logging your miles and lifting your weights, but your heart just isn't in it anymore. You probably need a change of pace.
Join a yoga studio, switch to long walks outside, attend a boxing class... Whatever it is, trying something new to rediscover why you love moving your body. And hey, if you really feel burnt out, take a week off (yes, you read that right). It can do wonders.
Try out a new gym.9 of 27
Similar to the previous suggestion, switching up your scenery can also increase your motivation. Most gyms offer a free trial, so don't be afraid to occasionally try a new fitness center. They may have amenities you're not used to, and if you really love it, you could make it a permanent switch.
Write down your goals.10 of 27
As in take out pen and paper and actually write—physically write—something down. So many well-meaning gym-goers skip this step and then wonder where their motivation went two months into the year. Writing down your goals helps you stay focused.
Keep a log of gains.11 of 27
Much like progress pics, maintaining a workout log can be the perfect fix for a down week. It's also a great way to take the focus off of losing weight, which can be a long process.
Make sure to record the weight you're lifting, number of reps, mile time or how long you held your plank that day. Give it a month, and you'll be amazed how clearly you've progressed when you see it all written down.
Commit to 10 minutes.12 of 27
Not in the mood to work out today? No problem, just do 10 minutes. That's right—just 10 minutes.
If you've done this trick before then you already know it's extremely likely that once you get going, you'll keep going. But even if you don't, 10 minutes is better than nothing.
Sign up for intramural sports.13 of 27
Remember how effortless it was to stay in shape when we were kids? Most of us had school sports to thank for that.
If there's a sport you love (even if you haven't played it in a while), research recreational leagues in your area. Once you're signed up, you'll likely have two to three workouts automatically scheduled into your week. Your local YMCA is a great place to start.
Prepare the night before.14 of 27
You've heard it before, but laying out your workout clothes, packing your gym bag, preparing your protein shake—all of these things will help get you out the door.
It's a pain at first, but once you make it a nightly habit, you'll hardly think twice.
Curate your playlist.15 of 27
Have you been listing to the same old music on your iPhone for the past couple of years? Make an effort to download new music that will motivate you and get you going. It may seem like a simple trick, but hearing that throwback song from the '90s you can never get enough of is just what you need to power through your last set.
Only do exercise you enjoy.16 of 27
This might be the most overlooked trick of all. If you've tried every hack you can think of to make yourself want to work out and it's still not working, there's a good chance you're forcing your body to do something it doesn't enjoy.
Forget all the workouts you're "supposed" to be doing and stick to what you actually like. Think of it this way: Yes, HIIT workouts burn tons of calories, but if you end up skipping them more often than not, it really doesn't matter. Stick to what you enjoy, and even your calorie-burn will be better off in the long run.
Join a fitness community.17 of 27
Free fitness "tribes" and groups are popping up all over the country, and taking advantage of them is a great way to stay on track. Start by Googling "fitness" or "workouts" and the name of your city, and you'll likely find numerous existing groups in your area.
A great place to start: The November Project, a free fitness community that facilitates workouts all over the country.
Find a new audiobook or podcast.18 of 27
You already know audiobooks and podcasts can make a long run or workout fly by, but don't forget the most important trick of all: You can only listen to them during that long run or workout.
Download a book or show that will leave you in suspense, and you'll be counting down the hours until you can hit the gym again.
Treat yourself.19 of 27
All work and no play will make you pretty miserable. Make sure to treat yourself after a week of workouts and healthy eats. Whether this means getting a massage or guiltlessly ordering that burger and fries, balance is the name of the game when it comes to maintaining your motivation over time.
Remember why you started.20 of 27
Why did you want to start working out in the first place? Were you concerned about your health? Did you need a better way to manage stress? Were you uncomfortable in your body?
Think about why it was so important to you. Revisit the person who made that commitment, and you'll feel an instant boost of motivation.
Set a deadline.21 of 27
You've got goals—now you need deadlines. Divide your goals into three categories: weekly, monthly and yearly. Maybe you want to run three mornings a week, log at least 30 miles each month and run a half marathon by the end of the year. Set deadlines and check in with yourself along the way.
Take it outdoors.22 of 27
Nothing improves a workout quite like taking it outside. Whether you want to tackle a trail run, jog around the block or do yoga in the park, connecting with nature will help you see daily movement as a true gift to yourself.
Take progress pics.23 of 27
Progress pictures are all the rage now thanks to social media, and they really can help keep your motivation in check. Before you commit to a new routine, take a few pictures of yourself in whatever way feels most comfortable. Follow-up by taking new pictures every three to four weeks. You may not think all that hard work is paying off, but wait till you see those toned hamstrings.
Pay yourself to work out.24 of 27
Yep, you heard us. Put some money in a jar anytime you get your butt to the gym. Whether it's one dollar or five, watching that money add up will motivate you to keep going.
When you get to the end of the year, take all the money out and blow it on something that will make you happy. Just think, the more you go, the better gift you can afford...
Start a social media account or blog.25 of 27
It's a lot easier to get fit when you have a supportive community with similar goals cheering you on. This is the beauty of social media.
Start an Instagram account, tweet about your workouts or even start a full-blown blog dedicated to your new healthy lifestyle. Then, share it with your friends and family.
Always focus on the positive.26 of 27
It's amazing the difference a simple shift of thinking can make. If you're dreading the gym after work, find the negative thought and turn it into a positive one. Instead of focusing on how tired you are, think about how incredible it's going to feel to walk out of that gym knowing you completed your workout.