Need motivation to exercise? Look within!

Every Monday my Facebook and Twitter streams are full of motivational quotes and images.

motivation to exercise

Seems like everybody needs a little extra motivation to exercise and eat well at the beginning of the week 😉  .

I used to post a Monday Motivation series myself and wrote about the things that motivate me personally to get to the gym and make healthy choices in the kitchen (family, health, aging well, and aesthetics, to name a few).

But the thing is, I don’t really believe that extrinsic motivators work for that long or for that many people.

If simply looking at a photograph of a ripped chick doing bicep curls was really enough motivation to start, AND STICK WITH, an exercise program and healthy diet, obesity wouldn’t be the nationwide epidemic that it currently is. And nobody would be searching for (and finding my blog) via the terms ‘motivation to exercise’!

Need motivation to exercise? Start by looking within.

If I were to ask you why you go to work every day, I bet most of you would come up with reasons other than just ‘paying the bills’.

You enjoy your job (at least I hope you enjoy your job) because it challenges youfulfills you, and makes you feel good about yourself. (Hmm, sounds like the reasons I blog as well; certainly NOT because of the abundance of cash it’s earning me 😉 )

Of course, the pay cheque is appreciated, but most of us would agree that if the money were the only thing driving us to get up and go to work in the morning, we’d probably start looking for another line of employment.

I think of motivation to exercise in the same way.

Sure, the idea of being leaner, healthier, more muscular and more attractive might initially get us off the couch and into the gym, but in order to make exercise and healthy living a habit, we need to identify and focus on the internal motivators.

My motivation to exercise? The way it makes me feel about myself. Strong, capable, coordinated, beautiful and at peace with my inner critic.

How does exercise make YOU feel?

What’s YOUR intrinsic motivation to exercise?



  1. YES!! I think this is so true, when we keep looking for motivation I think it means something isn’t working. We are trying to force a workout we hate or something like that. I posted about creating habits a little while back and think that’s part of how we really make these healthy choices easier
    Amanda @RunToTheFinish recently posted…Holiday Challenge Kick Off!!!My Profile

    • I need to read your post!
      I came across a good quote yesterday about motivation turning into habit. That’s exactly how I feel about healthy living. Motivation works initially, then it has to become habit to last the duration.
      Thanks for stopping by Amanda!

  2. I hadn’t really thought of what my inner motivation is….. 30 years ago I exercised to stay thin, it’s become such a habit over the years that I believe I exercise use for all the reasons you mention including being with nature (ah… The peace!), and for the buzz I get from the music. . I like the way you describe quieting your inner critic. It’s good to name that monster!

    • Great to see you yesterday Bev! Was I motivating enough???
      Being with nature is also a great motivator. I would love to be able to spend more time AWAY from the gym…

      • You have been a huge motivater for me over the past four years , you manage to combine just the right mix of encouragement, technical skill and fun. I am always happy after your classes and your leadership has had a powerful impact on my health…… Thanks!

  3. It makes me feel AWESOME & keeps me going! Everyone finds motivation from different places, motivation from within is the true kind we can cary wherever we go!
    Katie @ KatieEnPursuit recently posted…Move It Monday…Turkey Time Is Almost Here!My Profile

  4. I definitely exercise because of the way it makes me feel! I can tell a difference in my body and mood when I don’t do it. I love the positive effects it has on my mental state! 🙂
    Kelly @ Laughter, Strength, and Food recently posted…Sunday DinnersMy Profile

    • Yes! Brains are important too! I often tell people that I exercise (and knit) so I don’t kill anybody! Exercise is a great stress reliever!

  5. It’s interesting how our motivations change over time. When I was younger, it was more about feeling strong and looking good. Now that I’m older, it’s much more about feeling strong and flexible, staying healthy, and maintaining energy.
    Carrie Rubin recently posted…Who Wants To Stroke My Goatee? A Hairy MovemberMy Profile

    • I totally agree Carrie. I like to think that we’re not just giving up, but evolving a more mature perspective on what’s really important in life 🙂

  6. I feel empowered when I workout….A feeling I never got while sitting on the couch…inactive!
    Kierston recently posted…#CHARGE Your BODYtteries!My Profile

  7. Well, you know I just wrote a post about being motivated by VANITY! And lots of people agreed with me.

    I think all these little posters and pictures and quotes we see are fun! Some people use sticky notes or stars on a calendar. Some people make dates in their daytimers or PDAs – or join groups – whatever works for YOU, I say Do It!

    These are the things that HELP keep us moving on days we may not really FEEL like it.
    Elle recently posted…Goodbye Gluten … We are Never Ever Getting Back TogetherMy Profile

  8. I do like those posters & sayings – still do & often something I read or see will push me more. But yes, even with those, we need the internal. I like to use both… but I know working out makes me feel strong & empowered & that I can conquer the world! Right now with this sickness, not feeling that way, 🙁 but wanted to stop by before I poop out totally… at least I am somewhat better or I would not even be on here! 🙂
    Jody – Fit at 55 recently posted…Gratitude Monday & Huge Thx!!!My Profile

    • I’m so glad you’re feeling well enough to get back online Jody! Hoping this week is better and workouts are back to normal (= intense!) soon!

  9. This is such a great point. You can look at pictures or other outside sources for motivation all day, but in the end it has to come from within or you will never stick to it. I exercise for me. I like the way lifting makes me feel strong and confident.
    Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table recently posted…Banana S’mores Protein PancakesMy Profile

    • Totally agree with you Laura. In fact, I don’t even like those pics. All too easy to take the negative side and think to yourself, “I’ll never look like that, so why bother…’.

      I bother because I love myself and I love to feel good!

  10. I know that if I am having a stressful day at work (there have been too many lately) that taking a break and working out will re-energize me and give me a more positive outlook. If I go for a run I use the time to collect my thoughts and not just “react” to a stressful situation.

    I always have more energy after a workout, strange huh. 😉

    • I’m just like you, Lisa. Even if I’m physically tired from my workout, my energy levels are ridiculously high! Better than any other mood enhancer, IMHO!

  11. For me, at this point, it’s a habit. I feel crummy when I don’t exercise. And I am also motivated by wanting to look good. Mainly I want to be fully functional when I’m 100.
    AlexandraFunFit recently posted…How to Avoid Overeating on ThanksgivingMy Profile

    • Tee, hee! Your last line reminded me of a line from Star Trek Next Generation. Data and Tasha Yar are together and Data tells her that ‘yes, he is fully functional’. I hope that you too are ‘fully functional’ at 100 Alexandra!

  12. How does exercise make me feel? Exhausted, but satisfied 😉
    evilcyber recently posted…Green Coffee Bean Extract – Too Good To Be True?My Profile

  13. Nice post, good tips… Thanks for sharing Tamara…
    Foods for low carb diet
    elizasiege recently posted…Low Carb Diets – Are They Right For YouMy Profile

  14. Feeling? Satisfied. Whenever I don’t want and do….I feel like I just conquered a big ‘ole mountain! To me, it’s so much about mental strength! Thanks for this awesome post!
    Charissa recently posted…5 Great Exercises for Warm UpMy Profile


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