When it comes to exercising my attitude differs drastically from my husbands. He is someone who can make exercise easy for himself. You see, he views exercise as a daily necessity. I view it more as a nice thing to do if it is convenient. This would explain why he is the rock in our exercise routines. Since being married it has been 10 times easier to actually exercise and I have done so much better at keeping it a regular habit. So what is the secrets to consistent exercise?…besides marrying someone who will keep you motivated. Here are a few tips:
1. A Perspective Change
Shift your thinking from couch potato to “thinking like an athlete”. Instead of thinking exercise is a necessary evil recognize the huge blessing it is that you can exercise.
For me I always wanted to exercise so I could be skinny. It was only after I had my first baby that I realized I wanted to exercise for so many more reasons than that. I lost a lot of muscle during pregnancy and really noticed it after the baby was born. I just couldn’t run as fast and I wasn’t as strong. I wanted my muscle back. I wanted to be capable again so I could play a game of Ultimate Frisbee and focus more on the game than on how out of shape I am. Of course, I wanted to lose my baby weight as well but it became more about fitness and health than just my appearance, which for me is a lot more inspiring. Not to mention easier to measure.
I love the example my husband sets here as well. His motto is “If you don’t have time to read your scriptures, get enough sleep, and exercise….you are too busy.” Those three things set you up to have a successful day. Exercise gets your body and mind going in the morning and helps you feel better all day long. If you are thinking like an “exerciser” you are sad when you don’t get a chance to exercise because you can feel it.
2. Set a Goal
One of the first things that got me motivated to work out on a regular basis was training for a 5k. I don’t think I had ever run more than a mile before then (I was a sprinter in track). Training for the 5k was so fun because at first a mile was really hard. After some time however, I noticed how much more endurance I was getting. A mile started seeming easier, Then two miles, then three. Seeing your physical progress is rewarding and motivating. There are many free plans online that can help someone new to know what to do each day to complete your long term goal.
Others goals could include:
- Being able to do so many push ups.
- Running a hundred yard dash under so many seconds.
- Swimming the length of a pool a certain number of times.
- Finish a workout video without doing the modified version (Depending on the workout video, this can be super tough)
3. Choose a regular workout time
It is so much easier to workout when you know ahead of time when you are going to do it. It honestly doesn’t matter when you choose, just do something that works for you. A time slot you will know you have and perhaps something that will trigger you to remember. Many people choose to workout first thing in the morning for this reason. They know they won’t have anything else going on.
I don’t really prefer this. I feel so sluggish in the morning and as a stay at home mom I have such busy mornings. My kids nap time is a good workout time or right after I get my husband to work.
4. Make it Fun
Let’s just be honest if you hate running… Don’t train for a 5k. I know running is the in thing now… but if you hate it don’t do it. Enjoying the type of exercise you do is crucial. You aren’t going to stick with something you hate. If you are into team sports pick a team to join or start up a group get together. (Wednesday basketball, frisbee Friday, Raquetball group).
Diversity is also a good thing here. You don’t have to commit to just one thing. Play water polo one day and run the next. Switching things up is a great way to stay interested, learn new sports, and make new friends. Not to mention it is also great to shock your body and help you build more and different muscle groups.
5. Find Support
Finding support is another important aspect of maintaining motivation to work out. Although those who have truly ingrained habits don’t need this as much, if you are just starting out a support system is essential. Working out with someone gives you someone to be accountable to. It’s harder to skip out on a workout when you know someone is counting on you to be there.
This could be a class, or a walking buddy, or a group of friends you play frisbee with once a week.
6. Keep your gear visible
Visual cues are a great reminder to go workout. Keep your running shoes out and your swim goggles visible. If your shoes are the first thing you see in the morning you know just what you are doing first. Even if you don’t workout in the morning they will continue to remind you of your commitment throughout the day. Pick the place where you spend most of your time and leave them there.
7. Use it as a commute
You have to go to work anyway so may as well walk or take the bike, right? (well in some situations). You may find it is a great way to unwind after a hard work day. Running is good exercise but it is also a good transportation method.
8. Track your progress
Print off a workout calender or track your progress online or in a notebook. Keep track of where you were when you started, what your goals are, What your plans to accomplish your goals are. Evaluate your progress and write it down. This will help you visualize how much more you can do. You’ll also be watching and measuring your progress more.
9. Create or Join a Contest
Contests are a fun way to stay motivated to exercise. This can be as elaborate as team sports or as simple as a facebook group where you share your progress. You can bet money or candy or just the satisfaction of knowing you won. Competing is a fun way to get to know others and push you to achieving more.
10. Start Slow
With any exercise, remember you don’t want to get burned out. Keep in mind that your body isn’t used to new activities. If you have the mentality that you are going to be exercising every day for…. forever, then there is no need to go crazy today. You need to save some oomph for tomorrow. For me this was a trust issue. I would always start an exercise program and push myself so hard and then be so sore and tired that the next day I wouldn’t exercise. It wasn’t until I starting trusting myself to workout again tomorrow that I felt like I didn’t need to do everything today. (I needed to do something but not go crazy). It was also trusting in the process of working out. It does work, even if you don’t kill yourself each day as long as you are doing something that pushes you a little you will get stronger.
So there you have it. Good luck on your journey to a more healthy you…and to being the person that doesn’t just make exercise “look” easy but actually enjoying your exercise and being excited about it…thus making it actually easy!