A goal like having a flat stomach may give you the initial impetus to start exercising, but may not be enough to keep you on track.
For that you need “intrinsic motivation” — being motivated from within by enjoying fitness and valuing it.
Below are key steps to building that drive to exercise.
1. Enjoy what you’re doing — find fitness activities you like.
The fact is many people don’t have the internal motivation to work out, and say they’d rather do something else. The trick is finding a “something else” that just happens to have fitness benefits.
2. Become a master to feel comfortable and competent, and gain a sense of accomplishment.
A big motivation killer is not feeling adept at exercise. Since mastery is motivating, get instruction to become more proficient at your chosen activity. A few one-on-one training sessions can keep your head in the game.
3. Develop a plan and follow through — no distractions.
Some people lose motivation because they don’t follow through with their exercise plans. Make workout time sacred, and get rid of any hurdles in your way. That could mean hiring a babysitter or changing to a different class at the gym that gives you more time to get there from work.
4. Join a fitness group or exercise as a family to deepen your commitment to workouts.
Add a social component to make exercise more fun. You’ll also be more motivated if you know others are depending on you to show up.
Finally, believe in yourself. You’re more likely to engage in meaningful amounts of exercise if you feel that fitness is part of who you are.
The American College of Sports Medicine has more about building motivation for exercise from within.