Determine what you're going to do, when and where you'll do it and keep these factors consistent. Don't leave any wiggle room when building an exercise habit.
Create a compelling atmosphere.
Make exercise more fun and doable. Find a location where you feel comfortable and that you can get to easily; choose a time that suits you; pack your gear the night before; obligate yourself by arranging to meet a friend; bring rousing music.
Do something--anything--you're good at.
When you perform any skill well, your body releases feel-good chemicals called endorphins. Accomplishing one thing makes you optimistic about your ability to achieve something else.
Focus on the process, not the outcome. Set weekly mini-goals, such as to work out three times, rather than to lose 5 pounds. The results will motivate you to keep going.
Each time you overcome one obstacle or plateau, you become more convinced that you can overcome others. Even considering a challenge can start you on the path.
Break your own record.
If you've never hiked farther than five miles, go for seven. Your growing competence encourages you to take on new challenges.
All the little victories--finishing 20 reps when last week you could only do 15--bring you closer to your overall goal. Track them in a journal and reward them with new clothes or a foot massage.
Martial arts, boxing and kickboxing make you feel strong and self-reliant.
Hire a pro.
A personal trainer or coach can help you break through mental barriers and set higher goals. You'll accomplish more than you ever dreamed.
Help someone else succeed.
Whether you coach a friend through a 5K or teach a child to swim, you'll feel needed and knowledgeable, and the experience will add to your sense of self-worth.
Share your workout plans with co-workers, friends and family. Once the word is out, you'll feel more obligated to follow through. Better yet, recruit a workout partner to cement your commitment and keep your spirits up.