If you felt as proud of yourself for simply showing up at the gym as you did for finishing your workout, your movement journey would probably feel much more fulfilling. More often than not, we’re so preoccupied with making it through that fitness class, or reaching a specific end goal, that we don’t take a moment to truly show up for ourselves and acknowledge the efforts we’re making along the way. If you’re struggling to commit to fitting movement into your day, these tips will help you add moments of gratitude into your existing routine, making each bit of exercise that much more meaningful. That way, along with your Microstep of pausing to thank yourself for your efforts each time you finish a workout, you can build in similar micro-moments along the way to completing your goal.

As you begin warming up, remember your purpose

Connecting with the “why” behind your workout will help you stay in touch with your values and give your workout a greater sense of meaning. As you start warming up — whether you’re stretching, taking a light jog on the treadmill, or simply standing and prepping for the movement ahead — think of your purpose and thank yourself for bringing yourself one step closer to reaching your goal. “Connecting to a deeper purpose captures the power and determination of our emotional body to see our goals through to fruition,” Tiffany Cruikshank, L.Ac, M.A.O.M., the founder of Yoga Medicine, tells Thrive. “For instance, if you want to lose weight to get healthy or build confidence, be specific about why, and what it will look like in your life. Will it affect your interactions, how you feel in your body, your confidence, how you move, how you see yourself, your health, or your ability to live long and appreciate life? Try to attach a feeling or picture to it in your mind — something simple that you can come back to quickly and often.” 

Repeat a celebratory mantra at the end of each set or station

Another great time to pause for a moment of self-appreciation is when you wrap up a set of reps, finish a lap, or complete a station at your HIIT class. Before mindlessly moving on to the next challenge, repeat a celebratory mantra to yourself that reinforces your efforts. Maybe it’s “I am strong and capable,” or something as simple as “I am happy to be here.” 

“By repeating mantras, often we’re investing in a small commitment with a huge payoff. We’re helping to build a deeper sense of joy, meaning, and purpose within ourselves, which affects our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors,” Kirschen Katz, a yoga instructor, tells Thrive. “I find mantras key to my approach to fitness, because it helps me hold myself accountable, boosts my feeling of self-worth and self-esteem, and is one of the things that will actually get me to the gym, or to the hiking trail, or on my yoga mat.”

During your cool-down routine, reflect on your hard work

Having a few minutes of cool-down at the end of your exercise regimen is important to your physical health, but can also serve as an opportunity to reflect on your hard work. According to Amy Opielowski, a master trainer at CorePower Yoga, there is power in taking a pause. “After your workout, take time to pause, stretch, and breathe into all of your hard work. Your post-workout routine soothes your neuromuscular system, reduces stiffness, and goes a long way to help you prepare for your next workout,” Opielowski tells Thrive. As you stretch or take a final cool-down lap, practice your Microstep: Think about what you just accomplished and give yourself a pat on the back — you showed up, and that’s something to be proud of. 

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