We all know that we need to exercise in order to keep ourselves fit, strong, and healthy. However, we also know that this is easier said than done. Experts acknowledge that a big part of physical health starts with mental motivation. Exercise is just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. A lot of the work that’s needed involve the mind and pushing yourself to actually get on your feet.

Inspiring yourself to exercise may be difficult, but it is definitely not impossible. There are many ways by which you can condition your mind into making your body cooperate and work toward your fitness objectives. Here are just some tips and techniques in order to motivate yourself more effectively to exercise:

Remind yourself of your goals

Having a constant, visual reminder of where you want to be or why you are exercising is a good way to keep your mind focused. Many times, for instance, we get distracted from our diet just by seeing sumptuous food laid out on the table. A visual cue can help us snap back into reality and keep our thoughts in line with our goal.

Wearing a customized wristband is a simple but very effective visual method. Remember those popular “Live Strong” rubber bracelets some years ago? It utilizes the same psychological principle of reminding the wearer about purpose and passion. You can have a wristband printed out with your ideal weight to serve as a daily reminder of your fitness target, or you can also emblazon a powerful personal motto that is very meaningful to you.

Congratulate yourself for small wins

Progress, no matter how incremental, is a sign that you are headed in the right direction. Oftentimes, what we lack is an awareness of these small wins. We look forward to and expect dramatic change in our bodies, and thus we get easily discouraged or disappointed every time we look in the mirror and see little change.

Train your mind to think more positively by approaching exercise as a numbers game. Keep a journal where you can jot down data and statistics of your weight, calories burned, inches lost, etc. Remind yourself that fitness is a journey, and that each and every step counts.

Create a schedule and stick to it

Many times, we miss out on exercise and physical activity because we supposedly don’t have time for it. We start with a mentality of making time for the gym whenever we can. The truth is that we need to deliberately make time for exercise. This means we may need to give up activities and pursuits that are relatively less rewarding or important.

Plot out your daily schedule on a calendar or on your mobile phone. Make sure you allot at least an hour or so of physical activity every day to make sure you are expending energy and getting enough cardiovascular exercise. If you decide to work out in a gym or attend fitness classes, set up reminders on your phone as well.

Bring a buddy along with you

Sometimes, no matter how much we encourage ourselves to exercise, we do need motivation from the outside, and this is where a good friend can help. A trusted companion on your fitness journey can pull you up during times when you feel sluggish or discouraged. He or she can also serve as your sounding board whenever you may feel depressed.

Ideally, your friend is someone who is in a better position health-wise to guide you. He or she may actually be your fitness goal or inspiration. What matters is that their presence is positive and that they will serve the role of a motivator whenever you feel that you are unable to go on with your exercise regimen.

Fitness and exercise: A major decision

Whatever kind of physical activity or exercise you decide to get into, always remember that fitness is a commitment and a lifestyle. Being fit through exercise means having more energy to do more things and more stamina to spend time with your loved ones. This is perhaps one of the best ways to approach exercise—to keep in mind that its purpose is to give you a better, more enjoyable quality of life.