5 Reasons You Can’t Stick With A Workout

#1 You Exercise For External Reasons

With all sources of motivation existing on a spectrum from extrinsic to intrinsic. “Extrinsic motivation involves external rewards and punishment-motivating behavior,” Carter says. “For example, exercising solely to earn points in your company’s health plan is an external reward, and exercising to avoid your partner chiding you for weight gain is rooted in avoiding punishment.”

#2 Your Goals Take Time

Fitness results require time, consistency and patience, while humans prefer immediate rewards, such as the feeling of de-stressing in front of the TV or going out with friends. Even staying late at work comes with the instant gratification of crossing tasks off your to-do list, making it more enticing than the long-term investment of exercise.

#3 You Allow Other People To Run Your Workouts

Having a personal trainer or group fitness instructor can help take a lot of guesswork out of your workouts, but blindly following what someone else says isn’t necessarily helpful toward building a long-term habit, Jung says. That’s especially true if your trainer or instructor – or whoever else is telling you what exercises you should be doing – has you performing exercises you don’t enjoy.

#4 You Don’t Feel Like You’re Any Good At Your Workout

A 2003 Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise review found that confidence in one’s exercise ability is the highest predictor of how much a person will exercise. Meanwhile, a lack of confidence in one’s exercise ability is the highest predictor of how little a person will work out. After all, people naturally don’t like to do things that they don’t feel they are good at, and they don’t tend to stick with things they don’t enjoy, Jung says.

#5 You Beat Yourself Up

“We think that the harder we are on ourselves, the more we will exercise and the more we will see results, but that’s just not the case,” Jung says. For example, a 2008 Journal of Health Psychology study found that the more dissatisfied women were with their bodies, the more likely they were to avoid exercise.