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Exercise: 10 Ways to Stay Motivated

If you're like me, then you go through phases where one day you're super motivated to go to the gym and the next, the idea seems more than daunting. But it's almost spring, the perfect time to get into a new routine. Getting motivated to exercise on a regular basis can be a challenge though. That's why I came up with these 10 tips for getting and staying motivated, as a reminder for myself and to share with you.

1. Make it a Routine: The nature of a routine is that after a while it becomes mechanical, or just something you do, which eliminates the need for daily internal pep talks. Maybe that's what Nike meant when they said, "Just Do It."

2. Set Goals: For runners training for a marathon, a regular exercise routine is essential to success, and is therefore motivating. This can be true for more moderate goals, such as running a mile or increasing the amount of weight you're lifting from five to eight pounds.

3. Reward Yourself: You are your own teacher, so give yourself a gold star for a job well done (or a well-deserved pedicure?).

4. Make it Fun: Exercise doesn't have to be boring. Spice up your treadmill experience by making a playlist of your favorite music, or by downloading a personal training session online. Or forget the gym and turn up the music and let loose in your own living room.

5. Switch It Up: A sure way to lose motivation is to do the same exact thing everyday. Keep it interesting - take a belly dancing class, a martial arts course or just take a nice long walk to a new area of town.

6. Keep Going: Push through those off weeks when nothing seems to be going your way. Go easy on yourself, but don't give up entirely, even if that means taking a 15-minute walk or going to the gym and sitting in the sauna for 20 minutes; just stay in the game.

7. Be Positive: Focus on feeling good and the high that comes from an intense, sweaty workout. Don't concentrate on how much it hurts, how tired you are or how much you would rather be lying on the beach with a frozen drink.

8. Visualize Success: Take a few minutes before your workout and see yourself enjoying the exercise; visualize it coming naturally and easily to you. Top Olympic athletes practice this technique regularly with great success.

9. Feed Your Soul: Exercise not only your body, but also your mind. Yoga is a great way to engage both - it can stabilize your mood, and even improve your endurance. Or get outside and take a walk, touch the leaves and breath in the fresh air.

10. Know the Benefits: Remember that exercise gives you energy; it strengthens your bones, muscles and joints; it lowers risk of heart disease, colon cancer and type 2 diabetes, and helps control blood pressure, prevent weight gain and fend off depression and anxiety. In short, exercise makes you feel good and on the inside and out. Remembering that should make it easy to stay motivated.

Good luck and feel free to share your ideas for getting and staying fit!

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