I work out almost every day – here's how I trick myself into it

Sports have always been my “thing.” I wasn’t much good at science (or, you know, listening in class) but I always ran fast and have good coordination. Growing up, I competed in karate, boxing, kickboxing, swimming – you name it. After an injury forced me out of those, I started horse riding and am now a competitive dressage rider.  

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Being a lifelong athletes means I’ve exercised almost every day that I can remember. That’s not that I have some kind of intense burning passion for fitness – In fact, I have the same struggles as everyone else, and virtually never want to work out – but I’ve tricked myself into making exercise a habit, like brushing my teeth. I’m not necessarily motivated to brush my teeth twice a day, but it still happens – and so does my daily sweat session.  

As for how I tricked myself, well, I use the following tricks. Hopefully, some of these tips will help you hit the gym or go for a run more often. Even if you don’t end up working out every day, regularly making yourself sweat can do a lot to make you healthier and happier.

Invest in workout gear you absolutely love

Ably leisure sweatpants

It’s just like going out to a party: you don’t want to go if you hate your outfit. Sometimes, wearing exercise clothing that makes you feel amazing and which is comfortable can make all the difference. Nobody wants to run if their shoes give them blisters or their leggings chafe.  

I’m outdoors in hot weather often with the horses, so I love this UV shirt. It protects my (almost translucent) skin against the sun but is also soft and stretchy and super comfortable. It’s also great at wicking away sweat and the light colour options keep me cool in the heat. It’s the shirt I always reach for when I’m feeling meh about heading to the horses or running in hot weather, paired with my favourite leggings. 

The exercise gear you love is specific to you. It could be a top in your favourite colour, gym leggings which nip and tuck in all the right places, a pair of amazing shoes which just totally match your vibe. Anything that works for your sport and gets you excited is worth investing in.

Sleep in your exercise clothes 

To be totally honest, this is one of my favorite tricks, especially in winter. Nobody likes heading out in the freezing cold to start their day with some exercise. It’s not a you problem, it’s an everybody problem. 

If I need to get up early and it’s cold, sleeping in your workout gear can honestly revolutionize your winter. There’s nothing better than waking up already wearing your leggings and not having to feel like you need to put on 17 layers before you can venture outside. Especially as you know you’ll need to then take off 15 of those layers at some point.  

But by sleeping in your clothes, your body heat has already warmed everything up so you’re good to go with minimal fuss and effort. My climate is warm enough to only need these in winter, with a seamless running top. Both are comfy enough to sleep in, and I usually add a zip up jacket like this by the door which I can take off midway if needed.   

If you live in a cold climate, you can switch this up by sleeping in a wicking base layer and fleece then adding gloves and a hat, or whatever your “next to skin” layer is for exercising in the freezing mornings.  

If it’s warm, which is more common where I live, I normally sleep in gym shorts and a tank top. Boiling hot? I put whatever exercise clothes I’m wearing right by my bed so they’re waiting for me when I wake up.  

Wear that sports bra all day 

And yes, sleep in a comfy sports bra too if you’re putting exercise clothes on for bed. You don’t want to change to add the bra. It’s enough to keep you in bed. Trust me.  

If you’re exercising in the evening, I’m not ashamed to say you should totally wear the comfy sports bra all day. For me, changing is often the biggest mental hurdle after a tiring day. Somehow, having at least part of my eventual exercise outfit on just makes that hurdle a bit smaller. If you can wear any other part of your workout outfit during the day, go for it. Anything to make the mental hurdle more like a mental step. 

And if you’re worried about it, doctors say wearing a sports bra all day is fine provided it fits properly. 

Use a sunrise lamp  

Philips SmartSleep wake up light

If you woke up feeling raring to go, do you think you’d find yourself at the gym more often? Probably. It’s all too easy to hit snooze and roll over, but a sunrise lamp can help you wake up feeling less groggy and more refreshed.  

Set it half an hour before your alarm, and by the time it goes off, you should be ready to hit the ground running – literally.  

Plus, it helps you fall asleep better too. And better sleep means more motivation to exercise. Take it from me: trying to exercise when you’re already exhausted is like trying to iceskate uphill.

Use wireless headphones

TOZU T6 True Wireless earbuds

Everyone will tell you to listen to music – but you should ignore them and listen to whatever you damn well please.

For a lot of people this is music, but I tend to get bored, so, I get a bit geeky and listen to equestrian podcasts while I run or go to gym. Why? It makes me remember why I run: to get fitter and stronger for my main sport. Plus, I can get lost in the technicalities of the podcast, and it distracts me enough that I find my pace and rhythm without over-thinking it.  

You might want to listen to an audiobook, music that gets you pumped up, a funny podcast, or a YouTube video of an interview with your favourite celebrity. Whatever works for you – there’s no judgement here, because this is just an article on the internet.

One thing about the earphones: Make sure they’re waterproof. If you exercise right, you should sweat plenty!  

Pair your exercise with a reward  

Sometimes, you just gotta treat yourself. And making a positive association with exercise can help you to feel better about it. This way, you’re focusing on “I get to exercise and do XYZ” not “I have to exercise.” 

Obviously, you probably shouldn’t choose a triple cheeseburger with bacon as your reward. I love a great coffee or hot chocolate directly afterwards if I’m exercising in the morning or doing something like swimming, so I splurge on a high quality one and keep it in an insulated tumbler in my car for when I’m done.   

Other people allow themselves a long bath or a glass of wine afterwards (morning exercisers, please don’t choose this as your reward). Some people like to finish their runs with half an hour of reading on a bench. Others choose to reward themselves with a nap that afternoon, or some uninterrupted television time. I’ve even had friends who set aside a small monetary reward for each exercise session which they put towards a spoil purchase at the end of the month or similar. It really doesn’t matter what the reward is, as long as it’s something which you look forward to.  

And those are my six tips to develop some exercise motivation. Or should I say discipline? Hopefully, one or more will work for you. As for me, I’m about to slide into that gorgeous UV top for an afternoon ride with my horse. And best believe I’ve been in the sports bra in preparation for this all day.  

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