Keeping Motivated After Day #1

The kids went back to school recently.

Everyone asks about that first day, how it went..   and in my experience day #1 is always great – they’re all excited, have new outfits picked out,  get up and get ready so quickly, and can’t wait to get out the door.

This is a real life conversation with Leela on her first day:

[me going to sit at my desk after breakfast]

LEELA [following me into my room]:

Why aren’t we leaving?


Leela it’s 7:58 am!

LEELA [realizing she’s an hour early]:


It’s day #2 and #3 and all the days that follow that are hard.

This made me think of how similar the experience is to a new workout program or diet – there’s a lot of excitement in the beginning, we’re motivated and can’t wait to get going. We commit initially when we’re motivated, but when the excitement fades, it gets hard and we quit. Then we feel bad about our unmet goals and end up swinging back and forth between setting goals, failing and resetting these same goals.

What if we could just keep the motivation going? How can we keep ourselves on-track long-term?

As a personal trainer and fitness-enthusiast for the last decade, I’ve experienced this personally and professionally. Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned – my 5 tips for keeping motivation going on any program or goal you have:

1. Find your Why

I think one of the most important things to recognize when we want anything is why we want it. And if you’ve set some goals or have a new plan ask yourself why.

If it’s for better health, ask what will better health do for you?  If it’s to lose weight, ask why is losing weight important to you?

Write down your goal, and more importantly your list of reasons or whys.

2. Review your Why Regularly

The second important key is to write out these whys every night (or at least reading them again),  so you remember the next day why you’re saying no to cake and yes to 6 am workouts (which, let’s just be honest, both suck!)

It’s too easy to forget our reasons and just do what’s easy, convenient and tempting. If you have strong enough whys and review them regularly, you can keep moving towards your goals.

3. Find a Picture

Add a visual component – a picture of what achieving your goal will look like. And keep it somewhere you can see often to remind you of your why and goals.

4. Think Systems and Environment

It isn’t enough to set goals and hope that will-power alone will get you there!  You must set up good systems and environments to make it easy on you, to truly achieve success. This may mean getting rid of all the junk in your house, filling the fridge with healthy food, making the gym more accessible, or creating accountability for yourself with a trainer or gym-buddy.The real key to achieving your goal is to focus on the daily habits that will lead to your success.

5. Reward Yourself

Set small goals/targets towards a bigger goal, and make a list of things you really want (new shoes, a night out, or a trip) and earn each one, at every step of the way.  Setting rewards to earn as you work towards your goal will keep you feeling successful and motivate you to keep going.

6. Expect Hiccups

There will always be something that comes up unexpectedly –  a cold, a sleepless night, people showing up at your house with ice cream and cookies. Expect to get derailed. But don’t give up.  When things are better, start back up again, as soon as you can.

Little bits every day do add up. And consistency and patience are so important.

And what about the kids being motivated to go to school every day?  Should I make them write out their whys too every night?  I’ll tell you what, if I get some why’s from the kids, I’ll definitely post them!


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