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9 Ways to Get Your Butt to (and Through) Every Single Workout

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    Write Down Your "Why"

    Coaches, trainers, and even parents have always said you need to set goals in order to actually achieve what you want—lose weight, run a faster 5K. But storing that goal in the back of your mind isn't enough, says Shanon Squires, an exercise physiologist and human performance lab coordinator at Colorado University Anschutz Health and Wellness Center. (Fun fact: This is also where Chris Powell of Extreme Weight Loss takes clients for the show.) Squires says it's important to identify why you're exercising and write it down. Then you can really focus on it when you're heading to a sweat session. "It's not necessarily about focusing on the exercise you're doing, but what's the inner thing driving you to do it in the first place," he says.

    How the heck do you actually figure out your "why"? Squires often has clients go through this writing practice, whether they're beginner exercisers or long-time athletes: "Go into a room alone with just a pen and piece of paper," he says. "Write down the goal on your paper, [like 'lose 10 pounds' or 'get healthier'], then write 'why' right next to it. Answer the question. Then write 'why' to that answer. Continue until you have the root answer." And remember, goals change over time, so if you find yourself lacking motivation, repeat the practice to hit your mental reset button.

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    Find a Realistic Role Model

    Self-efficacy is simply believing that you can make a difference—to your body, mind, work, anything—if you put in the time and energy. "Many people hold the deep-seated belief of 'I could never look like that' or 'I'll never be able to do that,' so they give up—often before even trying," says Elizabeth Lombardo, PhD, author of Better Than Perfect: 7 Steps to Crush Your Inner Critic and Create a Life You Love. The solution? Finding others who have been in your shoes and succeeded. "Looking up to people who have already transformed their body [and are relatable to you] is a great reminder that yes, you can do it, too," says Lombardo. Get a head start by checking out the success stories we love, and look to your local community (many have groups on Facebook) for others you can connect with in person.

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    Recruit a Reliable Friend

    Find a workout buddy (even a virtual one is OK). Even if you generally prefer to work out solo, Squires says having a partner makes you more accountable and less likely to skip a workout. You'll also probably find yourself pushing harder throughout the workout to reach that new PR or finish those last few reps. "That's why personal trainers get hired in the first place," Squires explains. "Sure, it's nice that they have a lot of expertise that you can draw from, but the main benefit you get is them standing right next to you, or even working out with you, motivating you to do more and give your best." If you don't have like-minded people currently in your close circle of friends, it's time to branch out. Try talking with the girl next to you in Zumba class, or signing up for a social running club.

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    Put the Shoe on the Other Foot

    Next time you're debating whether to go to spin class or not, Lombardo says to stop and ask yourself why you wouldn't go. "Sometimes people think, deep down, that they're not worthy—of the time it takes or the money you might have to spend." To combat that negativity, pretend you're talking to a friend. If she were saying the same thing about herself, what advice would you give? Write it down (studies show jotting something down on paper will help you remember it more than even typing it), then make it your mantra! You deserve to reap all the healthy benefits just as much as your BFF.

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    Be Present and Mindful

    Sometimes it's all about perspective. "Research shows us mind-set is very important when you're trying to create change," says Squires. "If you're going through the motions at the gym and you don't believe it will improve your health, then it won't. But if you believe you'll be healthier, you will be."

    Proof:

    In a Psychological Science study, one custodial group was told that their physical labor on the job was considered exercise, while another group was told simply to perform their regular duties. Those who viewed their work as exercise saw major improvements to their health, such as reduced stress, improved blood pressure, and lower cholesterol. Though both groups were performing the same actions, the other staff members didn't reap the same health benefits. Going through the motions without consciously thinking about "why" could prevent you from reaching your full potential. Who knew?

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    Get Competitive

    "If you're on the treadmill next to me, the answer is yes, we are racing." You've probably noticed fitspirational quotes like this plastered on social media—and they're going viral for a reason. A little friendly competition is a great way to boost mental toughness: People who worked out with a virtual partner exercised twice as long as those who worked out alone, says an Annals of Behavioral Medicine study. "Wager a bet with a friend [or try an app like Pact or Wellcoin]," suggests Lombardo. It doesn't necessarily need to involve real money, though research shows that having cash on the line makes you more likely to stick it. "It could be related to frequency of workouts, winning a race, or who can do the most push-ups in a two-minute period," she says.

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    Ditch the Distractions

    No one is perfect, and that's totally OK. But everyone has their weaknesses, and it's important to know what scenarios are going to trip you up on your path to success. Squires admits that, "no matter what my intentions are, if I go home after work, I'm never going to make it to the gym. So I need to drive straight to the gym every time, and have my bag in the car." Identify your own distractions, and create a strategy to avoid them. If you're waking up and thinking "but my bed is sooo comfy," then packing your bag and picking out an outfit the night before can help eliminate that mental weakness.

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    Create a Timeline

    No one has ever started as a fitness novice and instantly become a master athlete, so ditch that all-or-nothing mentality. Instead, Squires suggests creating small goals that build your willpower over time, so when you confront a barrier (like hitting that 10th rep), you can power through it. The key is setting a specific time line, so larger goals don't turn into "someday I'll do this." Squires suggests setting a mini goal right at the beginning of your journey. "Having that time line will help you create the habit and stick to training because you know you have a test coming up." Once you complete, say, that set of kettlebell swings and evaluate your progress, it's time to think about what's next. With each success, you'll feel stronger and more able to tackle whatever comes your way.

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    Experiment

    If you're struggling to drag yourself to spin class because you can't stand the instructor's music, or you skip CrossFit because you're constantly terrified of getting injured, then it's time to try something new. Squires' trick to zeroing in on what you love and what you just don't? Grab a journal after a workout. Jot down how it made you feel (don't overthink it!) and what you thought about throughout class. "If you realize that you were totally in the zone and not thinking about anything other than the way your muscles feel, the sweat dripping down your forehead, or what was coming next in the workout, then stick with it," he says. "But if you're thinking about something else, like the stress work is causing you, it may not be for you." Once you find a technique, class, or instructor you love, you'll find yourself looking forward to class rather than dreading it.