Committing to consistency on tough days
Ever find yourself waiting to do something until you feel completely motivated, energized and excited?
You put it off and tell yourself, “I’ll start on Monday with a new week when I am feeling refreshed.” You say you’ll begin once you get the new sneakers or updated equipment. You tell yourself, “Today I feel out of it, so let’s just start tomorrow when I am feeling better and more ready.”
While you may trick yourself into believing you are setting yourself up for success, it’s a never ending cycle of waiting for a non-existent, mythical energy.
A common misconception – fueled by peppy social media influencers and the barrage of inspirational quotes about exercise – is that every day and every workout should be met with boundless motivation.
But honestly? Some days are just plain hard.
Motivation ebbs and flows, so relying solely on it to get your body moving can quickly lead to inconsistency or stopping altogether.
The secret to keep moving isn’t counting on motivation, but in forming a habit that persists even on the days when you'd rather stay in bed.
Sure, that sounds great, but how the heck do you do it?
Here are the two guides to help you stay consistent on your hardest days:
Shift your mindset and give yourself grace
Prepare yourself & show up in smaller ways
The Imperfect Workout: Shifting your mindset
First, you need to shift your mindset about the reality of motivation and what that means for your workout. Understanding that not every workout needs to be perfect is liberating. Some days, giving it your all might feel impossible, and that's okay.
So instead of giving it your all, give yourself grace.
Start to really listen and understand your body's signals to know when it's necessary to take it easier. When you notice those cues, don’t beat yourself up or quit on the day.
It’s so easy to fall into the all-or-nothing mindset. You get down on yourself for feeling unmotivated and call yourself lazy. You think that if you can’t give it 150% then it’s not worth doing anything.
But this mindset is what will take you away from actually being successful and consistent with your movement habit.
Truly embrace the fact that not every day will feel like a victory, and that's perfectly normal.
It's a mental challenge as much as a physical one. By acknowledging that not every session will be a breeze, you build resilience and determination – qualities essential for long-term success.
Prepare yourself & show up in smaller ways
Once you understand that you can’t solely rely on motivation and you let go of needing every workout to be perfect, you can prepare yourself for the hard days and be armed with tools to help you get through.
So when rolling out your mat feels like a trip to the dentist, you don’t bail, you adjust.
Change it up so your workout feels less daunting.
For example, instead of your normal hour-long workout, commit to 30 minutes instead. Or maybe, you cut your reps in half, or choose only 3 exercises to complete today. Or maybe you shift gears completely and your workout today is stretching for 15 minutes, or you decide to go for a walk instead.
Whatever you do, the important thing on the hard days is to show up anyway.
Show up even if it means a lighter session. Show up even if you only move for 10 minutes. Show up when you feel tired and cranky and the last thing in the world you want to do is work out. It’s the steady act of showing up – of not quitting – that will make the difference.
Build the habit of showing up, no matter what.
Recognize that a 10-minute workout is far better than skipping altogether. Not only are there still physical benefits from a 10-minute workout, but that 10 minutes will keep your habit consistent for tomorrow, next month, and each year ahead.
When you are looking to make real change in your body and to reap the benefits of movement, having one mediocre day won’t make a difference in the long run. But you know what will make a negative difference? Allowing yourself to quit on days that are hard and getting into the pattern of not moving.
So take one small step, and whatever showing up looks like, always honor the commitment you made to yourself.
You’ve got this.
By pushing through on the challenging days, adjusting expectations, and granting yourself grace, you pave the way for long-lasting success in your fitness journey.
Remember, it's not about perfection; it's about progress and the commitment you've made to stay strong and healthy. Always come back to your original reason for beginning with your movement practice, and allow that to drive you.
And on the days that motivation has escaped you, know that you are not alone. Give yourself a little grace and stick with the habit of just showing up.