There are really only two ways to make fitness a regular part of your life: 1) make it easy or 2) make it fun. That’s it.
Do you find that workouts are an afterthought that can easily be bumped off the list if something else comes up? Do you think of exercise as a four letter word? When we haven’t set ourselves up for success, it’s easy to see anything as a “conflict”. If I didn’t have my own system in place, I would never do it either.
Set yourself up for success by either working fitness into your schedule or choosing something that you look forward to. Working out is an important part of health – you can eat right and maintain your weight, but you’ll still be “skinny fat” unless you build your muscles.
Option 1: Don’t rely on willpower. Make it easy on yourself.
Show up. This is the most important thing you can do. Chances are, if you start doing something, you will build momentum and keep going. Tell yourself “I’m just going to do __ for 10 minutes” and see where you go from there. I love group workouts and fitness classes because all you have to do is show up and they will guide you from there.
Do it first thing in the morning. If you schedule it for after work, there are too many unknowns that can get in the way between now and then. Too many things can go wrong or come up. Don’t rely on having enough energy at the end of the day – whenever I plan for an afternoon workout, I invariably end up going straight home instead. When I was into workout videos, I’d get everything set up the night before – the dvd in the player, the workout space cleared, my shoes and weights right by the TV. Then, I could just fall out of bed in the morning and jump right into it before I even thought of any excuses.
Build a routine around it. For example, 3 days a week, I do a 5:30 am Bikram Yoga class. Then I shower and get ready at the studio before heading directly to work. These have become my main showers during the week; truly I’m so used to not showering at home that when I miss class I forget to shower. Gross, I know.
Keep the right tools at hand. Stash workout clothes and shoes in your car or at work along with a class schedule for your gym. If you do decide to do your workout at the end of the day, change into your workout clothes before leaving the office. You are 100% more likely to actually head to the gym instead of home. I used to attend a bootcamp class right after work, and this technique kept me showing up week after week.
Option 2: Do something you love. Your workout doesn’t have to be “work”.
Playing tennis with a friend, climbing at an indoor gym, dancing at a club – make being active something you look forward to. Plus, choose a workout that suits your personality. I find that group workouts are best for me because I like variety and I need the extra motivation of the instructor and classmates. If you’re competitive, sign up for a race and make training for it your workout.
During the work-week, try:
Group classes. Just show up and follow instructions. Easy. You can find group classes at most larger gyms and rec. centers. They follow a set schedule so they are easier to plan into your day. My favorite is a weight-lifting class called BodyPump, but if you like dancing, yours might be Zumba. Boot camp is a challenge great for competitive types, even if you are just competing with yourself. High intensity cardio interval classes are also great. Try spinning/ indoor cycling to really get your heart rate up. I go once a week to a class at 24 Hour Fitness called “Core Cross Training”. It’s centered around intervals of high intensity, all focused around building core strength.
Bike ride. If you’re lucky and you work 5-10 miles from home, try riding your bike to and from work. No need to plan in a workout, and the ultimate motivation to exercise after work – or else you won’t be going home! Just make sure you cycle at a workout pace and elevate your heart rate. You can get saddle bags for your bike to store a change of clothes and any work supplies. Count yourself lucky – if I worked that close to home, I’d be joining you!
On a leisurely weekend, try:
Hiking with a group. If you are blessed with mountainous terrain, make your hikes uphill for an even better workout. Talking while you hike makes the time fly by and you can get in a few hours without noticing – that’s a lot of calories burned! Go with friends at a similar fitness level to you and keep the pace up to make it a true workout.
The good news: it will get easier.
When you put your plan in place that follows one (or both!) of these two options and you seriously commit to it, success is inevitable. It’s up to you to define what success means to you. It could be getting to the gym three times a week or it could be running a marathon.
Once you start to build momentum, it will only get easier. Not only will you have built routines or excitement around your activities, but your body will help you out by releasing endorphins while you exercise. Soon you will become addicted to these feel-good chemicals and, like me, you’ll come to crave that “runner’s high” and rely on your workout as a stress-relief activity. Plus, once you have developed the physique you want, you will have an even better incentive to keep it up because you won’t want to lose those awesome muscles!
What keeps you showing up and working out? Share your tried-and-true techniques by posting a comment.