Do exercise you love to stay motivated

It’s 6 am. Your alarm just went off because you said you’d get up to workout before work today. But it’s a cold winter’s morning and you’re tired and comfortable in your warm bed.

You decide to skip today’s morning workout for an extra hour of sleep. You tell yourself you’ll train after work instead but deep down you know you’ll be tired after a long day and would rather go straight home and watch some Netflix. When 5 pm rolls around, you choose to skip your workout (again) and promise yourself you’ll go tomorrow. You feel guilty, lazy, and ashamed, yet you repeat this process every day of the week.

How often does this happen to you? Why do some people have the motivation to get it done but others find a perpetual cycle of excuses to skip their workout?

The reason you keep skipping your workout isn’t necessarily because you’re lazy, but more likely because you’re doing the wrong exercise or you haven’t found your ‘why’.

There are two main reasons why some people rarely skip a workout;

  1. They know their ‘why’. In other words, they have a very deep and meaningful reason to go through the struggle for a greater purpose.
  2. They are doing exercises that they truly enjoy and look forward to.

Why I hate the ‘rise and grind’ mentality

Society, in particular, social media has made it cool and trendy to adopt a mentality where the more self-induced pain and suffering one can inflict upon themselves, the more impressive they are to everyone else. I think this mentality is feeding an unhealthy relationship with exercise. Sure, a tough workout has its place, don’t get me wrong, but we’ve taken it too far.

So, back to our 6 am dilemma. The HIIT workout that your favourite Insta-fitness model did (or probably didn’t even do but made a video making it look like they did) sounded appealing yesterday when you were scrolling through your Instagram feed, but now it’s the crack of dawn and you make the decision from the comfort of your bed that you’re definitely going to skip your scheduled morning workout because you simply can’t be bothered.

What if going back to sleep is not your only other option?

Ask yourself, ‘What kind of movement do I feel like doing’?

If you can’t answer that question then this is where willpower is necessary. You need to find your ‘why’ so that you can do the stuff you don’t feel like doing. If you can answer it, then you just discovered the best workout for you!

The best workout you can do this winter is the one that you’ll actually do.

The best exercise is the one that will get you out of bed with a sense of joy, excitement, and anticipation. Of course, there’s an element of willpower that comes with getting up early to train but it shouldn’t be driven by fear, pain, and resentment. Those feelings are ineffective motivators. Motivation out of fear and pain is far less sustainable than motivation out of joy and pleasure.

You need a mindset shift.

If you’re consistently skipping your workouts it’s because you’re probably not doing the best workouts for you. On days when you cringe at the thought of a certain type of workout but you think you need to do it because your favourite Insta-fitness model said that its the best way to get a bikini body, you’re misguided and mistaken. You need to try something else. Something that actually gets you out of bed with a feeling of purpose and intent.

Maybe you love yoga, walking in nature, swimming, pilates, running, boxing, lifting weights, cycling, F45, CrossFit, 12RND fitness, or a bodyweight circuit from the comfort of your living room. Do one of those instead! The possibilities to move are endless. You don’t have to attach a ‘rise and grind’ mentality to every single workout.

The takeaway message

Working out doesn’t always have to be a grind. In fact, fear and anxiety are less sustainable and less effective motivators than joy and pleasure. Working out shouldn’t be a chore, but rather a gift. Find ways to move that feel right for you.

The best workout you can do is the one that will get you out of bed before the sun has risen and the one that you look forward to when you clock off from work. Whatever workout you choose to do is better than doing nothing at all. Make movement your mantra this winter. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just needs to get done.

Drew Harrisberg is an exercise physiologist and diabetes educator

Want more expert advice on how to get healthy over winter? Look no further than’s Hit Refresh 2019 Winter Edition, which runs for the whole of July. You’ll find smart tips and action plans for refreshing your nutrition, fitness, mindset and beauty… and much more!

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