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Motivation to Work Out

March 14th, 2009 by Kevin Ngo

Do you need motivation to work out? Have you constantly been "starting over?" Are you sick of this endless cycle? I know how it is. I figured out how to end this frustrating cycle and produced the physical results I would only dream of before. I found out how to have lasting motivation to work out. Let me show you how.

Table of Contents:

Why People Quit
Intense Desire
The Science
Measure Progress
Lifestyle Change
The Secret of it All

My Struggle and Triumph

For years, I would start a workout routine only to "take a break" and start over again several months later. I would workout for about 2-3 months, not see much results, and stop. Once I got too out of shape, I would get determined to start working out again only to stop a few months later. This went on for about 4-5 years. Does this sound familiar?

Fortunately, this all changed about 2 years ago when I started applying these strategies I’m about to share with you.

Just so you know, unlike most people, my challenge wasn’t to lose weight, it was to gain weight. Growing up I was always skinny. You know when you’re skinny when people say things like, "When was the last time you’ve had a decent meal?" or, "Let me get you something to eat" out of nowhere.

So what happened? How come I kept failing to keep up with a workout routine for 5 years? Wouldn’t being skinny enough for people to think I just came to the US from a 3rd world country enough motivation to stick with a weight gain plan? Apparently not.

It wasn’t until I did the things I’m about to tell you that I went from struggling just to gain a few pounds a year to gaining 25 lbs of mostly muscle in 3 months. By the way, I didn’t go out and eat everything I saw. In fact, I cut out all fatty and junk food. Yes, I gained weight while sticking to healthy foods.

Now if your motivation to workout is to lose weight, don’t worry, this will work for you as well. In terms of weight loss motivation, the same principles will apply. Losing weight just comes down to knowing what to do and doing it.

I won’t be writing about what I ate or what workout routine I used. You can find out what you should be eating to lose weight online. What I’ll be writing about is the mental changes that took place and the strategies I used to make working out become a habit. So lose weight or gain weight, the same strategies will apply.

Let me start with the main reasons why people have trouble with having the motivation to workout in the first place.

Why People Stop Working Out

The problem with working out for most people is that after some time, the motivation to workout dries out. The following are the most common reasons:

Wrong strategy

With so much information out there, this really shouldn’t be a problem. The basic formula to lose weight is to eat less calories than you burn or burn more calories than you eat. To gain weight, it’s the opposite. If you have the motivation to workout everyday but eat more calories than you're burning, you're going to be disappointed.

As long as you don’t buy into those quick-results-with-no-work-and-eat-anything-you-want schemes, you should be fine.

Lack of results

Too many people start working out with the expectation of some amazing result in too short of a time span. So when results don’t meet up to their expectations, they get discouraged and quit.

Slowed progress

Thinking that your results will stay consistent will just end up disappointing you. In the beginning, you may have some great results. You may lose 5-10 pounds your very first week. But as the weeks go by, you will find yourself losing less and less. Not knowing this in advance can be very discouraging when it happens.

Hitting a plateau

When you start working out, your results will be very encouraging. Your motivation to workout will increase as you see these amazing results. However, sooner or later, you will hit what’s known as a plateau. Athletes experience this all the time. You get to the point where results not only slow down, it actually stops. This can definitely be pretty frustrating.


This is when you get to the point where you’ve loss enough weight to where you feel satisfied. You’re not where you want to be at but it’s not bad enough for you to want to do much about it. At this point, your motivation to workout may drop since your reason for working out is no longer strong enough. You may stop working out all together until your body gets to a point where it causes your motivation to workout to increase again and you start to workout again.

All of the above reasons that cause most people to quit working out happened to me over the years and have caused my motivation to workout deteriorate, but I’ve figured out how to overcome all of them. So let me share those strategies with you now.

How to Have Lasting Motivation to Workout

1. Have the right mindset

Without the right mindset, you will be facing unnecessary difficulties. Realize that anything worth striving for will be challenging. Go into this with massive determination and focus.

When you take this seriously, your motivation to workout will automatically increase. Have the mentality of a warrior. Know that internal enemies will constantly try to stop you, those internal voices that tell you to quit. Be prepared for battle and take them down.

2. Have Intense Desire

If you’re merely interested in working out, it’s going to be difficult to do it long enough for it to be a habit. Your desire to workout and get the body you want has to be greater than any reason that may come up to make you quit.

Write down why you want to workout. Why do you want to lose that weight? Why do you want to be fit? The more reasons you have that hit you emotionally, the greater your desire will be.

My motivation to workout was that I just hated being skinny. I also wanted to inspire others by succeeding in this goal. If I could do it, they could do it. But more importantly, I had to prove to myself that I had the mental abilities to push myself through any challenge that tried to stand in my way. I was sick of failing to accomplish this goal.

You see, for the longest time, I had this belief that being skinny, for me, was genetic. I was born a month premature and read somewhere that the body type I had pretty much made me destined to stay skinny. I had to shatter this genetic, destined to be skinny belief because I knew if I did, many other limiting beliefs I had about myself would also be destroyed. I basically put everything into this goal. I had to. I gave myself no other choice but to succeed and because of that, I did.

3. Find Inspiration

Watch videos or talk to people who have achieved the fitness goals that you’re pursuing. When you see or hear story after story of people just like you who were able to transform their body, you will begin to have faith and confidence that you can do the same.

I remember watching this video over and over of people who used to be skinny and what they went through to get the body they have. It was just so inspiring. It made me believe 100% that I could reach my goals as well. My motivation to workout was through the roof.

Another thing you can do is to workout with a friend or group of friends. Now, keep in mind that it’s important to pick someone who has a strong desire. If you have a lazy friend, well, I'm sure you know how that'll go.

4. Understand The Why

One of the things I did that really helped was instead of just going blindly into some diet program or workout regimen, I studied why I needed to do the things I needed to do. I read books on how the human body works as well as how nutrition works. By understanding WHY you have to do what you need to do, you’re more likely to do it because you understand the importance of it.

It’s easy to skip a critical step just because you don’t fully understand the reasoning behind it. If I told you, to lose weight, you have to eat more frequently but didn’t tell you why, you might not do it since it may not make sense to you.

It’s not a must that you study the why behind everything, but it will definitely help.

5. Prepare for Excuses

Excuses will come up. Just know that it will and things will be a lot easier. For instance, I knew that having to wake up early in the morning, when it’s cold and rainy outside, just to go to the gym and workout would be a challenge. I knew that when I get together with friends and family, there would be the urge to eat whatever fatty foods they were eating. (I gained weight through cutting out fats and all unhealthy foods in order to gain healthy weight.)

When your motivation to workout is high, your mindset is different. You will get yourself to workout regardless of what’s holding you back. But during those times when your motivation to sleep or do something else is greater than your motivation to workout, you need to be prepared to deal with it by coming up with what you’ll do before it actually comes up.

What I did was write down a list of as many things that I could think of that would prevent me from either wanting to workout or eat the right foods. Then I came up with what I would do when those things (excuses) came up. I knew what to do when my mind said, "It’s so cold right now, just stay in bed, you can workout later" or "skipping one workout won’t make a difference". I was prepared.

You MUST be prepared to deal with these excuses when they come up.

6. Prepare for Setbacks

Your progress won’t be a straight diagonal line. It will slow down or even go in reverse at times. You may lose several pounds every week for a few weeks, then lose less for a few weeks, then lose none for a few weeks, and then gain a few pounds for a few weeks. Know that this is normal otherwise your motivation to workout may suffer.

I remember the week when I weighed myself and found that I actually lost a pound. Had I not been prepared for this, I may have been discouraged. But since I knew this would happen, it just made me more focused and determined.

When this happens, don’t get discouraged. This is where many people quit. Don’t let it happen to you. Keep going. Your progress will eventually turn back in your favor.

7. Preparation of Meals

One of the reasons why people will tend to overeat is because they are not prepared. I love eating fast food and junk food. But since I made a commitment to working out and eating healthy, I had to cut all of that out. My eating schedule was pretty straight forward.

I ate 6 meals a day, one every 3 hours. In the past, when it came time to eat, I would normally just make something and eat it. I found that this doesn’t work very well because there a many times when I don’t know what to eat and end up going to a fast food joint to grab a burger.

So what I did to prevent that was to prepare my meals in advance. Basically, I knew what I was going to eat for each of the 6 meals everyday and prepared my meals to the point where all I had to do was heat up the food in the microwave and presto.

I set up my eating situation where it was easy. Even when at work, when meal time came... heat up food, eat. No thinking was involved, and that’s why it worked. Protein shakes or meal replacements help when eating a meal isn't convenient.

For losing weight, the same strategy applies. If you don’t know in advance what you’re going to eat, it will be easy and tempting to slip on your diet for "just one meal" and grab something you know you shouldn’t be eating. Preparation is key.

8. Measure Your Progress

Measure your progress on a weekly basis. I’m not just talking about your weight. I’m talking your body fat, about your arms, waist line, thighs, shoulders, chest, and calves. Also, keep track of your workouts. How many sets, how much weight, how long you ran for, etc. By keeping a measurement of everything, your motivation to workout will increase as you see those results.

Don’t be afraid to measure. Have confidence in yourself. You can do it. It just takes some time.

9. Anchor Feelings with Music and Celebration

On my way to the gym, I always listened to a certain song. On my way back home, I’d listen to another song. The reason I did this was to anchor the anticipation of working out to the first song and anchor the feeling to celebration to the second song.

By doing this, whenever I’m not in the mood to workout but go anyways, listening to the first song will get me into the state of anticipation for an intense workout. When I’m done, listening to the second song will get me into the state of excitement. While I listen to that song, I celebrate in order to anchor those good feelings to not only the song but to working out.

The song you choose doesn’t matter, what matters is the feeling it gives you.

10. Accept the New Lifestyle

You must accept this lifestyle change and be okay with it. Too often, people will start a workout with the intention of it being a temporary task. In order to make it a habit, you have to go into this with the mentality of Fit For Life.

Before I began my workout and diet change, I had to mentally be willing to make this a life long routine. I was willing to make the change because I made it clear in my mind that my new lifestyle is far more rewarding than my old lifestyle.

If this sounds like a big decision, well, it is. If you’re not willing to give up the life of sitting on the couch being inactive and eating junk food all day, than you shouldn’t be complaining about having low energy and a body that you don’t see fit. The decision to workout on a regular basis for the rest of your life is one of the best choices you can make.

The Secret to Effortless and Lasting Motivation to Workout is...

Make it a Habit

Do you think the people who consistently go to the gym have to struggle and force themselves to go each time? Fortunately, NO! Once you consistently workout long enough, your need for the motivation to workout becomes less. You will get to the point where you don’t even have to think about it. Working out will become natural.

This will take time. So your goal is to do whatever it takes to stick to your workout long enough for it to become a habit. Some people say it takes 30 days to form a habit. For some habits, that’s all it takes. It depends on the habit. For me, the habit of working out, where it’s no longer a struggle, where no motivation to workout is needed, took about 5-6 months.

If this sounds like a lot of hard work, then your desire just isn’t strong enough. At first I didn’t like it. After a while I got used to it. Now it’s just a part of my life. In fact, if I don’t workout, I feel uneasy and awkward, like there’s something missing in my life. Get to that point and you’ll have a hard time NOT working out. That is your goal.


It all comes down to disciplining yourself until it becomes a habit. Do you have to do all the things I suggested above? No. What I discussed was what finally made it happen for me. All these strategies and tips are just to help you along the way.

The number one thing is having an intense desire. When your desire is strong enough, you’ll find a way to reach your goal no matter what.

In the beginning, it will be difficult to get accustomed to this new lifestyle. You will be sacrificing time to go workout. You will be sacrificing unhealthy foods you used to eat on a daily basis. Realize that these sacrifices are necessary.

The good news is that once you start seeing results, your desire for the old unhealthy lifestyle will decrease. You will get to the point where nothing will taste as good as being fit feels. You will see others who have the inactive lifestyle you used to have and think, "Wow, this was all worth it."

Lastly, when you reach your goals, you inspire others to reach theirs. When I gained that 25 pounds, believe me, people who knew me when I was skinny noticed. Even though most of them wanted to lose weight, seeing me gain weight gave them motivation to workout and reach their goals. Hopefully it has inspired you as well. And when you reach your fitness goals, hopefully others around you will be inspired by you and continue this ripple effect.

Do this for yourself and for your loved ones. This is one of the best habits that you can develop for your life.

If you want a great weight loss / exercise program that is also motivational, I highly recommend the P90x Home Work Out Program. Working out alone won't get you to the fitness level you want. Remember that at least 70% of the results comes down to your diet. This program shows you want to eat as well. Another great program by the same company is the Insanity Work Out System. The work outs are a bit shorter and you don't need any equipments so it's great to use when you're away from home as well.

Until next time…

Love Life. Do Good. Live Well.

Related Posts:

The 7 Steps to Developing Habits

Discipline - How to Avoid a Life of Regret

How to Instantly Change Your Focus

How to Make Excuses

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