5 tips that make you WANT to exercise

00000155To me exercise is like brushing my teeth: a non-negotiable. I don't want stinky breath or a flabby, weak body so I just do it, Nike-style! That said, there are days (lots of 'em!) when I'd so rather plant my butt on the couch and squirt whipped cream in my mouth, while watching bad TV (Cycle 12 of America's Next Top Model, baby!) Thankfully, after many years as the Fitness Director of SELF magazine I've learned a few magic motivators that always make me walk away from the Reddi-Wip and move it. Here they are:

SET A GOAL: Have an aim that is specific, actionable, short-term and measurable. Big-picture concepts, like "I want to be slim in six months," don't carry as much oomph as "I want to fit into a size 8 in six weeks." Fit into those smaller sizes with these 30 simple, effective tricks to slim and trim your tummy.

FOLLOW A PROGRAM: If you have a plan before you exercise, then you're accountable to it, and you'll feel more satisfied once you fulfill it. And the better you feel post-workout, the more likely you'll be to do it again. Sign up for the SELF Challenge for the ultimate (free!) eat-right and exercise plan.

SENSE YOUR SUCCESS: Picturing better-body results makes you more apt to stick with your routine, research from the University of Bath in England find. When researchers pictured flattering versions of themselves making progress, 91 percent were motivated to keep moving. Charting your achievements can also brighten your attitude, scientists say. The free online workout logs at Self.com will calculate your calorie burn-and progress-for you.

: Thirty-five percent of SELF readers polled said they bail out of exercise because they lack a workout partner or other cheerleader to urge them on. Studies show people with support exercise more regularly. Make a standing date with a buddy to keep on track, like my Sunday soccer league with Self.com's Fresh Fitness Tips blogger Erin Kurdyla. Need a workout buddy? Find one now at Self.com!

TRY SOME "CARROTS": People promised $14 for losing 1 percent of their weight dropped almost 5 pounds, while those with no incentive lost only 2 pounds during the same time period, the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine notes. Try this on for incentive: Sign up for the Challenge and you'll be entered to win a grand-prize trip for two to Antigua. Your hammock is waiting!

Related: 20 superfoods for weight loss!