10 Secrets for Staying Motivated in the Gym

Recently, I shared that (much to my confusion) I was turning into somewhat of a gym bunny. It was a tongue and cheek post (I still shop in the plus size department, there’s no way anyone would look and me and say “gym bunny”) but it does celebrate some of the changes I’ve seen in my life since the first of the year.

As of this morning, I’m at my lowest weight in 15 years – obviously, something has changed. How can I NOT celebrate that!

When Kathy from Mothering from Scratch left me a comment asking what my secret was, it took me a few days to come up with an answer.

staying motivated at the gym

My first response was pretty simple.

I don’t know… I just get up and get it over with.  It quit being an option.

Not much help, I know.  So I spent some time thinking about it.  There’s plenty of time at the gym to think about stuff like that while I’m strapped to the torture device known as an elliptical machine.  Generally, about three minutes into my time on THAT machine has me thinking

What am I doing here? There’s a donut shop next door…

At that point, I start having to dig deep and make myself stay.  Because.. donuts.

(No, I never have stopped in after a workout to reward myself.  Honest.  One donut has like 300 calories.  Besides, that place makes yucky donuts. I don’t even LIKE the ones they make.)

What I’ve realized is that there isn’t one single secret.  Dragging myself to the gym every day doesn’t boil down to something so simple.  But that’s OK.  I have ten different reasons (aka excuses) that can easily drag me out of the gym and back onto the couch.  So having a bunch of different “secrets” for staying motivated in the gym just makes sense.

At least once a week, these are my super secret motivating thoughts that keep me hopping down the gym bunny trail.

Secrets for Staying Motivated at the Gym

10 secrets to staying motivated at the gym

1.  I don’t like pain.  Remember? I had knee surgery last October.  If I don’t spend at least 10 minutes a day on a stationary bike, my knee swells up and makes it painful to walk.  If I skip two days, I’m back to limping again.  I’d rather sweat that limp.  Sweat looks better on me.

(Remember why you are there.)

2.  I’m cheap.  I’m paying for a gym membership.  I want to get my money’s worth.  If I don’t go, I might as well be setting fire to a pile of cash.  Not only that, I gave up my wine budget to work with a personal trainer.  It’s worth it, but there is NO WAY I want to skimp on a session with my trainer. I made too much of a sacrifice.

(Remember that you’re paying to be there.)

3.  I don’t like “I can’t” or feeling old.  In the weeks that followed knee surgery, I had to confront a long list of stuff I’d lost the ability to do.  Like… get up out of a chair.  As I wrote my 30 days of anger series, I realized I was yelling at my kids (screaming, actually) to avoid walking to where they were.  I realized I planned my entire day around avoiding stairs and walking.  Not good.  In the weeks after I was discharged from physical therapy, I got worse.  I realized I could either work hard and get better, or quit and get old.  I’m not ready for old.

(Remember that it’s good for you.)

4.  New bras, new clothes, new shoes.  As I shed inches,  I filled my bathtub (twice) with clothes that were too big.  I discovered the small stash of clothes that had been pushed to the back shelf for being too small… and then those got too big as well.  I’m down four dress sizes.  I’ve changed band size and cup size in my bras so often it would make your head spin.  And then I discovered that my shoes were getting too big.  No kidding.  My feet are getting smaller.   It’s done a number on my budget, but thanks to some sales and thrift store finds, I’m managing.

(Remember the rewards.)

5.  My kids are in awe.  They love hearing how many sit ups I can do unassisted (36). They love challenging me to planking contests (I win every time).  They learned the hard way that mommy can do a karate kick better than they can.  It feels amazing to be able to keep up with my kids again.

(Remember who you do this for.)

6.  My husband’s joy.  He says it’s like getting a new wife every week.  (Insert blush… mumble mumble.   Hey… we’re married! It’s allowed!)  

(Remember how sexy you can be.)

7.  The third song on my playlist.  And the seventh.  And the tenth.  The third song on my playlist happens to hit right about the time I’m ready to give up on the Elliptical machine and move on to something easier.  But as soon as that song comes on, I dig a little deeper and stick with it.

When you can’t walk without effort, asking God to take the shackles from your feet becomes a daily prayer.

By the seventh track, I’m ready to finally get off the elliptical and move on to easier things. I celebrate.

And by the tenth track, I can’t be stopped.

(Find songs that speak to your soul.)

 8.  Living in victory feels… amazing.  Getting to the point that walking was a struggle didn’t happen overnight.  It was years in the making.  That was years and years of trying and failing… years and years of living in defeat.  It took almost six weeks of going to the gym every day and seeing the pounds melt away before I began to have hope that my life would be different.

My journey these past few months hasn’t just been about shedding weight and gaining fitness.  Those are just the more visible side effects of a much bigger picture.  The real struggle was the one inside. My first victory had to be over the long-term patterns of laziness, lack of self discipline, gluttony, and sloth.

Those are ugly words.  Those last two are “sin words” from the bible.  The truth is that when I first started going to the gym, all I wanted was to walk again.  I cried out to God to break me free from my chains and let me walk.  That’s all I wanted.  At the time, I was struggling to even lift one foot off the ground and each step took conscious effort.  God gave me so much more. He broke me free from the shackles of sin.  He gave me victory and hope.

Honestly, I’m still tempted by the donut shop. I still struggle with queso worship.  I can be brought low by a bag of chips.  I may never really believe that “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” because whoever said that had clearly never tasted bacon.  But I can believe that nothing tastes as good as living in victory.  Because it’s true.

(See the bigger picture.)

9.  Momentum.  Inertia (if you don’t remember fourth grade science) means that bodies at rest tend to stay at rest… and that bodies in motion tend to stay in motion.   Once I get myself pried off the couch (an occupational hazard for bloggers and social media junkies) and into the gym, I get so much more done!  Ya’ll, my laundry is caught up on a Monday morning.  My dishwasher is in the “receiving” mode.   I love that.

(Remember how the gym carries into real life.)

10. Quitting would be expensive.  I’ve gotten rid of all my clothes that are too big.  If I give up now, I’d have to buy bigger clothes and I just refuse to do that.   I can’t.  It’s not worth it.  Beyond the clothes, I don’t want to go back to feeling defeated. I don’t want to lose the look of awe in my kids’ eyes.  I don’t want to let myself down.  I like where this is headed and I don’t want to turn back to what I was.

(Burn the bridges behind you.)

Staying motivated in the gym is never easy.  I’m always looking for new ideas.  If you were to add to my list, what keeps YOU motivated?




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Susan Baker
I have a passion for encouraging weary worn out mothers to find joy in everyday motherhood and peace in unlikely places. I have two elementary school boys, one nerdy husband, and two cats. I have a strange fascination for bad puns, the color pink, socks, and books. I worry about running out of toilet paper, wine, and chocolate.. I serve an amazing God. I live an ordinary life filled with wonder.
Susan Baker
Susan Baker

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  1. Oh the gym. I haven’t been there in like months.
    Max Arthur recently posted..myTonicMy Profile

  2. So good to hear about it! Truly a great motivation to make perfect weight loss!

  3. This is useful and helpful article, these 10 secrets tips motivate to me for gym.
    Grace recently posted..How to Get Rid Of Bruises FastMy Profile

  4. Excellent tips and informative information related to motivation in the gym. Thanks for sharing.
    Emma recently posted..How to Get Rid of Baby AcneMy Profile

  5. I think these are totally true ideas to stay motivated at the gym and that’s why I wanna give thanks to Susan for giving this valuable ideas and definitely I will try to implement few ideas in my life. Superb work:)
    Donald recently posted..Getting Closer… Soft Opening December 30th!My Profile

  6. MD Arifuzzaman says:

    Wow what an article. i really like it very much. All the 10 steps are very much usefull for people. I’m really inspired by all of this. actually i want more :p

  7. Hey you guys

    I stay positive and surrounded by great people who motivate me. I crossfit and it has changed my life.. I’m a mother of 3 and still staying active with my little ones. I encourage you all to stay motivated with great people.

  8. Thanks for sharing this informative post. I’ve been facing problems with the health … After reading this post, i am getting new ideas of what can i do to well health. this is good 10 secrets for staying motivated in the gym.

  9. Thanks for the awesome post with some awesome tips for Blog. All techniques are really important to get more organic traffic. After reading this post, i am getting new ideas of what can i do to well health.
    Addison recently posted..What to do when bored while pregnantMy Profile

  10. I appreciate this article and Thanks for the awesome post with some awesome tips for gym. Gym is really important in our life. Find two new points here your.

  11. Hi Susan,

    I would suggest the Gym goers to create RSS feed for fitness motivation blogs. They can also follow some boards in Pintrest, blogs in Tumblr and people in Instagram for getting regular fitness motivation updates

  12. I love how you approach working out. It’s more “real” than a lot of those pumped up commercial type approaches you constantly here. Keep up the good work. My main motivation when I’m struggling to either go or stay at the gym is thinking about that feeling you have after the workout. It’s a great adrenalin rush!

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