We’ve all either used or heard the excuse, “I’ll start working out tomorrow.” Of course, by the time tomorrow comes you’re no closer to stepping foot inside a gym than you were the day before. Aside from coffee or a sugar-laden energy drink, there are very few quick fixes for getting you ready to workout after a long day at the office. Motivation that will turn your first gym session into a routine has to be built up over time. Here are some long-term tips for getting you into the gym and keeping you there:

1. Plan Your Meals Accordingly

If you’re heading to the gym after work, which most people do, there’s a good chance you ate lunch a couple of hours earlier. While you don’t want to head to the gym on a full stomach, you also don’t want to go on an empty stomach. A pre-workout meal with a healthy balance of protein and complex carbohydrates (green vegetables, oatmeal, whole-grain bread or pasta) is the key to a steady release of energy before and during your workout. My personal go-to is banana and peanut butter (natural, of course) on whole-wheat pita or bread.

2. Get Some New Gear

You gotta look good to play good. Upon entering the gym for your first time, you may notice that people are wearing a lot of vibrant colors. No, this is not an elaborate way of saying, “look at me” (in most cases). Buying a new pair of running shoes or clothing with neon green lining could be your answer to getting into a public gym. If you really like the way your new gear looks, then you are most certainly going to be excited about showing it off. Where’s the only place you can show off running shoes, basketball shorts, or multicolored leggings? The gym.

3. Bring Your Gear To The Office

Now that you have a brand new set of running shoes and some flashy clothes, pack it all up in your gym bag and bring it to the office. Let’s be honest, your ambition to make it to the gym usually hits a snag when you get back home and get comfortable. Circumvent this common bump in the road by bringing your workout gear to the office and changing right before you leave. Just the prospect of spending time in a sweaty gym locker room can be enough to deter you from going to the gym. If you’re already dressed for the gym at the end of your 15- to 45-minute commute, you’re less likely to skip out on actually making it there.

4. Find A Workout Buddy

There’s a good chance one of your friends is in the exact same predicament as you. Their lack of motivation is definitely something you can relate to. Solve your mutual animosity toward the gym by planning a specified day and time for you two to meet up at your local gym. Just make sure it’s someone you can stand to be around for more than a half hour and someone who will hold you accountable for slacking off. If you’re new health conscious frame of mind doesn’t jibe well with your friends, make some new friends at the gym. Plan to attend classes together or be each other’s spotting partner on low reps, more weight days.

5. Track Your Progress

We should all have a pretty good sense of what our goals are coming into the start of our gym takeover. The secret behind reaching our goals is being realistic about where we expect to be in a month from now. When your goals are unrealistic you tend to get down on yourself for not reaching them, even though they probably weren’t that attainable to begin with. On the other hand, when you set up goals that are well within your wheelhouse you’ll find yourself meeting those goals more often. After hitting your first goal, you may find yourself more motivated to get back in the gym to reach your next goal.

6. Reward Yourself For Making It

Noticeable changes to your physique take time and no one is going to reward you for working out. So don’t be afraid to reward yourself for making it to the gym. Just to be clear, rewarding yourself with an entire pizza pie or 500-calorie meal is not an advantageous move for your new healthy lifestyle. However, rewarding yourself with a tasty smoothie or chocolate milk, which actually provides you with much needed protein after a workout, will make hitting the gym well worth it. Over time, your little rewards will condition your brain into relating a trip to the gym with an enjoyable experience afterward.