Mind tricks: How real women get to the gym

Even those athleisure-sporting, tea detox-promoting, smoothie-sipping fitness enthusiasts (you know, the ones who upload sweaty post-SoulCycle pictures on Instagram and tweet about their amazing six-mile morning hikes) sometimes feel like skipping the gym. No one can be 100 percent motivated all the time. Which is why celebs pay big bucks to make the gym and its highly motivating instructors come to them. Real people, however, have to rely on good, old-fashioned mind tricks when the motivation is waning. So we searched high and low for the best techniques real women have to offer — and by “real women,” we mean fitness instructors, health bloggers, and exercise specialists (aka women who know their way around a gym).

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Focus on the feeling (not the visual)

“Don’t motivate yourself by thinking about your muffin top or flabby abs. A 2014 study found that exercise frequency is most strongly related to three things: appreciation of your body, a focus on how it feels, and satisfaction with what it can do. But get this: Motivation based on appearance weakened all three of those things, even in people who exercised the most. So consider changing your focus to something other than your thighs or tummy.” — Ellen Hendriksen, PhD

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Do it before your brain can talk you out of it

“Exercise in the morning before your brain figures out what you’re doing.” — Tanya Poppet, fitness instructor

Other fitness-minded women point out that exercising in the morning helps them avoid creating excuses to skip evening workouts. “If I waited until after work, I’d never get my workout in. There are just too many activities and commitments that come up.” — Angela Bekkala, clinical exercise specialist

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Get dressed to get your head in the game

A study in the journal Health Psychology found that employing the use of an exercise “trigger” can make people more likely to follow through with their workouts. The trigger could be as simple as seeing your gym bag, packed and ready to go, sitting by the door.

Here at Byrdie, a few of our editors use this trick, only with a stronger trigger: waking up in their workout clothes.

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Think about how busy you are

“Whenever I’m about to skip a workout, I think about my schedule, and the fact that today, now, is really my only window. For example, I’ll remind myself that tomorrow night I’m going out and can’t go to the gym after work, and the next day I’ll be too busy during the workday. So it’s now or never.” — Marli Higa to Prevention

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View your workouts as appointments

“If I set aside specific times in my planner, they feel more like an appointment I have to keep.” — Madeline Glasser, health and fitness blogger

Or, if you’re someone who hates breaking your commitments, double-down on this strategy and invite a buddy to your workout appointment. “I get someone to meet me there or commit to someone I’ll be there. I hate letting people down or bailing at the last minute, so it’s likely that if I’ve committed to someone, such as meeting a friend at the gym, I’ll make good on that promise!” — Sara Ellis, fitness, fashion, and wedding blogger

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Don’t look for excuses

“Your mind-set is everything, and in order to succeed in implementing a successful exercise routine, you need to change your way of thinking. Sometimes we aren’t motivated, we don’t want to workout and can’t find the enthusiasm we so badly need. The key is to treat exercise as part of your routine and make it a habit. We don’t always want to wash our hair, but know that we have to. Getting out of bed in the morning sucks when it’s freezing outside, but you still brave the cold and do it. When you don’t have motivation, don’t look for excuses, just do it. Once you get going, your endorphins will start pumping and it will be over before you know it, and you will feel so proud of yourself.” — Kayla Itsines, fitness blogger and creator of the BBG (Bikini Body Guide) program

On the flip side, when you do fall off the workout wagon (and we all do from time to time), don’t let your slipup hold you back. “The worst thing you can do is sit there and beat yourself up over it. All that will do is leave you feeling even worse about yourself, and you will continue to stay in a rut. A lot of motivation comes from how you feel about yourself, so it’s important that you quickly forgive yourself and get back into a positive mind-set as soon as possible.” — Emily Skye, fitness blogger

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Mix it up to re-motivate yourself

“Sometimes we lose motivation for our gym workout because we get bored of doing the same thing over and over again. If I ever feel myself getting bored from the same routine, then I’ll make sure I start to mix it up to keep my motivation going.” — Emily Skye, fitness blogger

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Get the latest celebrity beauty news, runway trends, health and fitness tips, as well as product suggestions from the experts at Byrdie.com.

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