Don’t wimp out on your workouts this winter. With the colder months quickly approaching, it’s easy to feel like your motivation to do anything—much less, exercise—is slipping away. However, say goodbye to your end-of-year slump! We’ve consulted current college women to give you the best tips on how to motivate yourself to hit the gym.
1. Find an exercise routine you enjoy
The cardio fad is believed by many to be the easiest form of exercise for quick results. But, this is not the case. Cardio is a good form of exercise, but shouldn’t be your only form of exercise, as it will cause you to plateau on your fitness journey—not to mention, it can be boring AF in comparison to other forms of exercise.
Exercise should improve not just your body but your life as a whole, and many young women carry around the misconception that looking better on the outside is more important than feeling better on the inside.
For Emily DiNuzzo, a senior at Pace University, fun is her top priority. “My number one tip is to do something you enjoy,” she says. “If you absolutely hate running on the treadmill, then you are less likely to be motivated to go to the gym. Find something you truly enjoy—yoga, dancing, weight lifting, Pilates—and you will WANT to work out.”
2. Set small, achievable goals
While it’s important to have a long-term fitness goal, setting shorter, more achievable goals is important too. This way, your end goal won’t seem far out of reach or impossible.
Two-week periods work as a great timeline for short-term goals. These goals can be anything that works for you personally. Whether going to the gym four times each week or running a mile every day, celebrate each small goal you achieve. You can even buy yourself a new fitness outfit as a reward! It’ll make you feel good and revamp the motivation that’s already there.
3. Learn about your diet and exercise
Being healthy is about so much more than changing the number on the scale. It has to be a complete lifestyle change—and one that’s for the better!
If you want to be motivated to work out, become informed on the routine you are trying to adapt to your lifestyle. Do some research and learn about the techniques involved, what you should (and shouldn’t) be eating and how to properly recover.
4. Don’t dwell on negative thoughts
Every workout, no matter how long or short, is better than no workout at all. Some days, you honestly may not feel up for a high-intensity fitness routine—and that’s okay! Don’t beat yourself up on what you didn’t do. Instead, celebrate what you did do.
Emily loves to remind herself why she’s exercising when she feels her motivation starting to slip. “Why are you going to the gym in the first place? To get stronger? To prep for a race?” she encourages students to ask themselves. “Remind yourself of this goal (your motivation) and how your workout will help you achieve it.”
5. Sleep in your gym clothes
No, we aren’t talking about napping in your sweaty gym clothes after a workout session. Put on your gym clothes (leggings and all) at bedtime the night before you plan to wake up and exercise!
This is exactly what Elana Glaub, a junior at Northwestern University, does all the time. “I sleep in my gym clothes and pack a bag of my school clothing the night before so I can shower and change at the gym,” Elana says. “This way, when I wake up in the morning, I literally have no excuse!” Even if you wake up tired, you’ll be instantly motivated by default. It might sound crazy, but it works (and is sexier than pajamas).
6. Schedule out your workouts ahead of time
Staying organized is beneficial for so many reasons and can also be a great motivational tool. On Sunday night, sit down and pencil in your weekly workout times into your planner.
Margeaux Biché, a junior at Barnard College, maintains this ritual religiously. “I definitely recommend deliberately scheduling out the time you’re going to spend working out,” she says. “Literally write it down in your planner or log it into your phone or computer’s calendar.” Margeaux also shares that she pays ahead of time for any fitness classes she takes, and you should do the same! It’s a great tip for motivation because let’s face it—we’re all broke AF in college and definitely don’t want to waste a single penny.
7. Think about how you’ll feel afterward
Elle Woods taught all of us that working out releases endorphins, and endorphins make people happy! Even the smallest exercise can set you in a positive direction for the rest of the day. While it may seem ideal to skip your workout after a long day, keep in mind that exercising has never made anyone’s day worse, only better.
Rachel Petty, a senior at James Madison University, always reminds herself of this. “When I workout, the way I motivate myself is by thinking about how good I feel afterward,” she says. “The feeling of a hot shower after a workout is the best, even when it’s cold out!” We couldn’t agree more.
Margeaux shares similar feelings. “I think of working out as a super refreshing, rejuvenating way to relieve myself of school stress and take my mind off campus,” she says. “This one works well if you run off-campus or maybe go to a yoga studio or other workout facility that is a little ways away! For me, working out turns into a really great escape this way.” The gym is an awesome escape from all the chaos that comes with college life and can be an easy way to clear your head.
8. Get yourself to the gym
The physical act of getting yourself to the gym is usually the most difficult part. Once you’re there, you’ll get immediate motivation just by the surrounding environment (and the running on the treadmills). Catherine Lowe, a senior at Winthrop University, gets her motivation from the other people she sees at the gym. “It keeps me distracted,” she says. Seeing other people getting their sweat on is a great motivator to get yourself moving, too.
It’s time to lose the excuses, ladies. No matter the weather, your schoolwork or any additional responsibilities you have on your plate, there is always time to prioritize your health. Get motivated, get dressed and get to the gym. Your body and mind will thank you for it.