While we all love the warm-and-fuzzy endorphin rush that comes after a good workout, some days we just don’t want to move. And, hey, when your to-do list is a mile long, or you just really need to unwind, there’s nothing wrong with taking a day off from getting your sweat on. But if you’ve been dealing with a near-constant case of ‘meh’ motivation lately, well, that’s a different story.
Often, a little movement is exactly what we need to feel our very best—and luckily, there are plenty of little things you can do every day to boost your motivation and kick your butt back into gear. Here are health and fitness experts’ go-to strategies for getting up and going.
1. Upgrade Your Mornings
First off, stop hitting the snooze button so much! Getting enough sleep is super-important if you want to power through a workout and the rest of the day, but more isn’t always better—especially if it cuts into workout time. The sweet spot, according to the National Sleep Foundation, is seven to nine hours of shut-eye each night. To prevent yourself from hitting snooze, yoga instructor and personal trainer Stephanie George recommends keeping your phone on the other side of the bedroom, so that you have to actually get out of bed to turn it off.
Sticking to a consistent routine that involves waking up around the same time every morning—even on the weekends—can also help you have healthier days. “Eventually that routine will turn into a habit and, who knows, you make even be able to wake up without an alarm,” says George.
George also recommends making time for a healthy breakfast. “Coffee won’t cut it,” she says. “You need a well-balanced meal that provides you with the energy you need to get moving.” Try eggs with spinach, peppers, and onions scrambled in, or a protein shake with frozen berries and greens.
2. Drink More Water
Could a few extra sips of H2O be the difference between staying on the couch and lacing up your sneakers? According to the CDC, as much as 43 percent of American adults drink fewer than four glasses of water a day—less than half the recommended eight glasses. Not only is dehydration dangerous, but it also significantly decreases your energy levels, leaving you feeling tired and lethargic. “Even a small depletion of water in your body can affect mental focus, energy levels, and physical performance,” says author and sports scientist Elesa Zehndorfer, Ph.D.
One easy way to stay hydrated: Mix an electrolyte supplement into your water. Not only will these minerals help your body maintain its proper fluid balance, but flavored electrolyte powders also make drinking easier if you don’t like plain water.
3. Focus On Balanced Plates
Deficiencies in vitamins and minerals—especially magnesium, calcium, and zinc—can make you feel tired, irritable, and lethargic, warns Zehndorfer. Not only do these minerals support your mood and energy levels, but they also help your body relax for sleep. Meanwhile, processed foods—which are often high in sugar—can lead to a rollercoaster of blood sugar spikes and crashes, and leave you too sluggish to get moving.
Your goal: Focus on lots of green vegetables, fruits, complex carbs (like whole grains and starchy veggies), and high-quality protein.
4. Write Down Your Goals
It’s a whole lot easier to make workouts happen when you have a clear reason for working out, which is why Chris Ryan, C.S.C.S and founder of Chris Ryan Fitness recommends writing down specific yet attainable goals and literally signing a contract with yourself to see them through. Do you want to shed a few pounds, run a race, or finally touch your toes? Write that down. What’s your plan for getting there? Maybe you’ll run four times a week or make it to yoga class every other evening. Write that down, too.
5. Find A Cause Worth Sweating For
When you need a kick in the pants that’s bigger than just you, find a fitness-focused charitable organization—like Team in Training, Cycle for Survival, or The D10—in your area to inspire you to get moving. “Not only do they make fitness fun, but they present the opportunity for fundraising and the chance to hear amazing stories that will motivate you to celebrate your body each and every day,” says Ryan. You get to reward your body and have a positive impact on the world around you—that’s a win-win!
6. Call Your Workout Buddy
Research from the University of Aberdeen shows that having an exercise companion increases how much exercise we do on a consistent basis. Having someone to hold us accountable and talk to during workouts can be just the game-changer we need to make that gym routine stick. “If you surround yourself with people who think healthy, think fun and think positive, you will be well on your way to meeting your fitness goals,” Ryan says.