I’ll be honest, I’m not a big “working out” person. I played sports in high school and I go for a run here and there, but I’ve never really had a regimen that I stuck to. Up until now, I’ve fortunately been able to hide behind my personal favorite excuse of “being too busy.” (Thanks, college!) But every time I’m lying in bed, elbow deep in a family-sized bag of Cheetos, scrolling through my Instagram explore page, flawless photos of Kayla Itsines and Alexis Ren seem to pop out of the screen and slap me in the face saying “YOU NEED TO START WORKING OUT AGAIN.”
Those pictures of perfectly sculpted abs compared to my own toneless tummy are enough to scare me straight for a couple of days, but I quickly fall out of the routine when I actually get a little busy with life. The data for habit-forming psychology is a little uncertain, with experts saying it takes roughly between 21 and 66 days to form a habit that sticks. Overachiever that I am, I decided that 21 days is a good number to start with. Here are 5 things you should do consistently for 21 straight days to really get yourself motivated and *stay* motivated to achieve your fitness goals. For real this time.
Have a killer workout wardrobe
Ever heard the saying “dress well, test well?” Well, the same applies to working out. Besides looking amazing, proper workout clothes do have an impact on how you do at the gym. They increase confidence, which in turn increases your motivation to work out harder, and for longer periods of time, at least based on personal experience. Additionally, they help you make sure you’re even doing the exercises right in the first place. It’s much easier to watch your form in well-fitted leggings and a supportive tank rather than baggy sweatpants and a t-shirt. Also, mirror selfies -- that is all.
Start the day eating something healthy
Healthy choices lead to other healthy choices. Think about it. When you start the day with a green smoothie for breakfast, you’re way more likely to choose a salad for lunch over a slice of pizza. Why? Because you’ve already deemed this as a “healthy” day, and you’ll feel motivated to keep it that way by continuing the healthy choices. Choose to start your day with oatmeal or Greek yogurt and watch yourself heading to the gym later to keep the day’s healthy streak going!
Pay for your gym membership/workout class/whatever
This one is for those of us who really have trouble staying motivated. We tend to value what we pay for more than what is free. I highly recommend joining a gym or taking a spin class that you do have to pay for because you’re more likely to actually show up if you know that whether or not you don’t, you’re getting billed for it each month.
Go to the gym at the same time every day
Depending on the flexibility of your schedule, you may have to squeeze in a workout whenever you can just to make sure it actually gets in. But if you’re like me and have a fairly regular schedule, you should designate a particular time of day for working out and keep it consistent. I’ve decided that for me, every day at 7 pm is going to be workout time, no matter what. This works because I know I’m usually free. Pick a time of day you know you’re always (or usually) free, whether it’s at 6 am or right after work and make that your personal “exercise time.” And don’t forget to write it down in your calendar!
Don’t quit if you mess up!
Everyone slips up eventually. If on day 17 you find yourself eating something a little high in fat, or skipping your workout to study for a test, don’t you dare give up on your 21 days! The road to reaching any fitness goals is always a marathon, not a sprint, and healthy choices should be consistent, but they don’t necessarily have to be consecutive. One bad day doesn’t mean the rest of them should go to waste. Just keep going, and try to make the next one better!