Are you looking to exercise at least a few times a week? Many of us want to get sweaty more often, shed some poundage and get in shape, but it’s often so hard to stay motivated.

Motivation, indeed, is critical to anything we do in life. We all need to be motivated in order to do something, whether it’s getting out of bed and going to work in the morning or doing spins every single Sunday.

It isn’t easy to get into the groove and become the person who says “I’ll come out for drinks later. First, I’m getting fit.”

We know it’s possible, of course, because we’ve seen others do it. We’ve all got that one friend who wakes up at 5.30am and hits the gym before work. But how do we become that person? How do we plough ahead to the gym when it’s cold and raining outside?

If you want to stay motivated to exercise more, here are 10 top tips.

Give Yourself Some Rewards

Some people are definitely motivate by being healthier and gaining more control over their body. Other’s are motivated by a picture of their lean selves from five years ago. They want that body again, and they’re determined to get it.

But not everyone is able to stay motivated by “better health.” Some people – and you might be one of them – need something more tangible that is going to come every single week, such as an ice-cream after a workout session.

It’s important that you create a reward system after you’ve done something positive and productive, because it then works as a habit loop that involves a trigger and a routine. These rewards are really powerful and make your brain think that all the hard work is really worth it.

Prep The Night Before

It’s much harder to get yourself to the gym in the morning when you know you’ve still got to get your exercise clothes out and prepare for the gym.

So why not prep everything the night before? Find everything you need – clothes, equipment, trainers – and lay it all out neatly.

Think Positively

Positive thinking really does work. If you’re lying in bed in the morning and debating whether to get up or stay under the sheets for another hour, it helps to picture yourself having an awesome morning with sunshine, pancakes, hot coffee and a good book.

If, however, all you can imagine is everything going wrong, you’re hardly going to be motivated to get out of bed right now.

This kind of positive thinking can help with motivation to exercise more. If you visualise everything going right (losing weight, getting fitter, competing in marathons et cetera), you’re more likely to work out regularly.

Eat Breakfast

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day because it sets the tone. If you eat a hearty, nutritious breakfast that is packed with protein, your body and mind will feel in the right condition needed to seize the day – and the gym.

Buddy Up

One of the reasons why a lot of us stop going to the gym as often as we’d like is that we find it really hard to be accountable to ourselves. We know we really should haul our butt’s into spin classes on Sunday, but because no one is going to shake their heads at us if we don’t, we reason that we can skip it this time. And the next time, too.

For this reason, it helps to go to the gym with a buddy who is also struggling to stay motivated. You can then both be accountable to one another. For example, if one of you isn’t feeling it this morning, the other will turn up at your door anyway and make sure you get on up.

Write Down How You Feel After A Work Out

This is a handy technique because you always feel great after a work out. So, when you’re tossing up whether or not to go to the gym today, you can flip through the pages of your work out diary, read about how good you feel after a session – and thus you’ve got your motivation.

Set Realistic Goals

We all have goals in mind before we start going to the gym, but some of us have realistic ones while others have ridiculously extreme ones.

Although it’s totally cool to want to shed lots of weight in six months, it might not be realistic. If you set the bar too high, you’ll quickly realise that it’s impossible to achieve what you want, and consequently your motivation will drop.

It’s better to set a series of small, short-term goals that you know you can attain. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself.

Listen To Some Pumping Music

We’ve all ha those mornings where we lounge around the house in our pyjamas, feeling dreary and unmotivated. Maybe we slouch on the couch and watch television while munching on junk food. We really don’t feel healthy at all.

And we definitely don’t feel psyched for exercising.

Listening to some pumping music can switch your mood an instant. You’ll go from feeling lazy to feeling awesome and ready to do this. All the top athletes need ways of getting in the zone before a big game, and listening to pumping music is one of them.

Will You Regret Skipping This Workout

Okay, you might not be feeling it right now, but ask yourself whether you will regret skipping this workout? Will you feel bad for letting yourself down and not pulling your weight?

Take A Look At The Bad Pic’s Of You

We’ve all got photo’s on Facebook that we wish our friend had never shared.

“Why would you share that photo of me looking fat? You hate me!”

Rather than see this as a negative, though, you could instead use these unflattering photographs as motivational tools. Take a look at some of your worst photos and let them remind you why you want to exercise. Print them out and stick them on your walls and on your fridge. You don’t want to look like that anymore – and you’re going to make darn sure that you won’t.