How To Keep The Momentum Without Giving Up

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motivationI was at the gym yesterday for my usual workout and it was packed. I’m assuming it’s that ole “OMG I ate myself silly and now I need to workout like a crazed person” phenomenon. This thinking comes in many forms. There’s the post-holiday version, the New Year’s resolution version, and even the newbie exerciser version.

It’s human nature, I guess. We panic, we decide to do something, we get motivated, and we throw ourselves 150% on the grenade of exercise. Then we give up after a few weeks of going strong. It may be a gradual process or it may be a sudden never-go-back moment. Is there a way to feel the burn without getting burned? How do you keep up the momentum without giving up?

Here are some tips to help:

  1. Always start with a 5 – 10 minute warm up. Walk briskly, jog in place, use a cardio machine. There are tons of options. It’s important to warm up your muscles to get your heart pumping and blood flowing. You’ll also burn more calories during your workout if you take the time to warm up first.
  2. Build in intensity slowly and don’t jump in 150% every day right from the start. Too much too soon is hard on your body. If you overdo it, you’ll be more inclined to skip a few workouts because you’re too sore to move. You wouldn’t go from sofa surfing to a 5k overnight, so don’t jump into an hour of heavy lifting either! Play it safe by building your activity level 10% or so each week. For example, if you walk 10 laps around the track this week, add one extra lap next week.
  3. Plan recovery time and rest days. Your body needs time to rest and recover from exercise. This doesn’t mean sitting on the couch. Mix up your exercise routine. If you run on Monday, do an upper body workout on Tuesday to give your leg muscles a rest. Have at least 24 – 48 hours before working the same body parts again. Make sure to take at least one full day off from exercise each week too.
  4. Listen to your body. Stop if you feel pain during exercise. Discomfort and difficulty is expected if you’re pushing yourself, and some soreness after exercise is common. Anything more may be a sign that you are overdoing it and need to back off. Actual pain during a workout is not something that should happen.
  5. When you try a new class or first go to the gym, ask for help if you need it. We all had to start new at the beginning and help can make a big difference in confidence. Many gyms offer a free training session or you may be able to ask fellow experienced gym goers for pointers. is also a great resource with descriptions and videos.
  6. Dress for your situation. No, I’m not talking matchy matchy outfits. Wear clothes that breathe in hot weather and layers in cold weather. Buy shoes designed for your activity and get the right fit. If you aren’t comfortable during your workout, you’ll most likely cut it short. If you must be matchy matchy, that’s fine too.

One final tip sounds silly but makes sense when you stop to think about it. Instead of waiting for New Year’s to start a new exercise program, start now. Not for the obvious reason that anything worth doing is worth doing now or your health is too important to wait. Do it now because the rest of the world is going to be setting the same resolutions.

The gyms will be packed with people come January. There will be lines waiting for machines and equipment strewn all over. If you’re new, it can be very intimidating to have to figure out what you’re doing in crowds and come up with a back up plan on the fly when something you need isn’t available. If you start now, you won’t have crowds and can figure out your way on your own schedule.

Plus you’ll have a huge jump on all the others working off their holiday weight gain and can have buff body bragging rights. What tips would you add to the list?


  1. These are all great tips. I hate the crowds at the gym during the first few months of the year.

    I love the website you shared. I’ve frequented the ExRx website for the last few years. Lots of good info there.

    • I’m not looking forward to January either but I’m glad I’m more comfortable this year than last in the gym. That will help a lot. I love ExRx and use it often to check form tips when planning a new exercise. The videos are so helpful!

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