For something a bit different today, I’m going to talk about exercise! (Booooo! 😉 ) I am no fan of exercise. I hate to sweat. I’m also one of those people who is told, “You don’t need to exercise” because I happen to be thin. Here’s a tip on that last part – don’t do that! It’s not only insulting, but everyone needs exercise no matter what their body type! It’s a health issue, not strictly an aesthetic one and everyone has something they would like to improve! Back to my point…. Regardless of your reasons for exercising, getting motivated and actually doing it can be really difficult. I’m no expert and certainly no fitness guru, but I’m going to share with you the things that I do to get and stay motivated, and to keep that momentum going.
Let me start quickly by saying that these are merely tips for motivation, not an actual fitness routine or a suggestion of how to get in better shape. For me, the hardest part of exercising is just getting going and staying on track. Therefore, I’m sharing my tips for motivation, not fitness as a whole. I’m not trying to imply that stretching for 5 minutes a day will keep you in tip-top shape. It won’t, but it may keep you going on a rough day. Also, I’m a firm believer that you don’t need gym equipment to get and stay fit. There are tons of workouts available online that can be every bit as effective – sometimes more so – than using traditional gym equipment. I love Fitness Blender (or their YouTube channel) for a wide variety of workouts that are easy to follow at home, and I highly recommend checking them out. I will leave links to some of my most used workouts at the end of this post for reference. So get yourself a good exercise mat and some light hand weights and consider yourself ready! For the purposes of motivation, I’m going to assume that you too can find ways in your own home to add a bit more movement into your routine.
So, first things first – getting off the couch and actually moving. That’s actually my first tip! Just get up and move. Whether it’s for 5 minutes or 5 miles, if you don’t ordinarily do it, it counts for something! I often find myself completely drained of energy and totally uninterested in moving. That sounds terrible, but I think you know what I mean and I’m sure you can relate…I hope! 😉 At times like these, I do whatever I can to just get up and do even the quickest of workouts – sometimes being just a 5 minute warm up. Getting up can be the hardest part, but once I get moving a bit I often find myself motivated to do just a little bit more. Some days I will force myself into that 5 minute baby workout and find myself doing 30 minutes more of rather intense movements! Try it and I’m guessing you’ll find it helps to get the ball rolling.
Another thing I do to keep myself on the fitness bandwagon (which I have definitely fallen off of before and even now am battling to stay back on!), is to not push myself too hard if I’m not feeling up to it. Say I’m actually not feeling very well. Maybe it’s that time of the month or I’ve had a rough day. I’ll try to pick a workout that’s mostly stretching or yoga based. I’m still getting up and moving, but I’m not trying to force myself into triathlon training. It gets me up and going, keeps the blood flowing, and keeps me on the fitness kick!
Sticking to a workout schedule is also important. When I say schedule I don’t mean a specific time, more a commitment to exercising as much as you would like to. And for me, my schedule is just that – try to do something once a day, every day. Again, it can be 5 minutes of stretching in my pajamas or 30 minutes of kickboxing. I don’t care! Just getting up and moving in some fashion that is not just day-to-day standard movement. Having said that, I don’t manage to work out daily. I don’t really aim to. And that brings us to….
Be flexible – with your schedule that is! Though I try to exercise every day, I do that to ensure that I get in at least 3-4 workouts a week. The frequency you aim for is obviously up to you, but that’s just what I do. So say I hope to work out Monday, Wednesday and Friday, but it just isn’t going to happen on Wednesday for some unforeseen reason. I still tried to fit something in on Tuesday so that my routine averaged out to 3 times that week anyway. By the same token, I don’t stop trying even if I’ve reached that 3-4 times a week mark. If I keep my mindset that I’m going to do my best to do any kind of workout I can as often as I can, it helps to stay on that fitness train.
Really assess why you’re exercising. I’m not here to tell you what your reason should be. That’s a personal choice, but it can affect your motivation. If you simply want to lose 5 pounds, you may find it harder to continue if you reach that goal. If you want to stay in shape, maintain a weight, be more toned, or just improve your physical health, it’s going to be easier to keep it going for the long haul. I personally find it easier to stay motivated when I’m more interested in being strong or staying healthy than when it’s a strictly appearance-related reason. There is nothing wrong with those kinds of goals, but for motivation I find it can be more discouraging (especially if you begin gaining muscle mass that weighs more than the fat you are probably losing!). So really think about what you are trying to accomplish – is it really losing 5 pounds or is it looking better in your clothes? The latter is probably a better way to look at it.
Last, but certainly not least, do not beat yourself up! Maybe you’re not making progress, or you’re not meeting your goals, or things are taking longer than you expect. It’s ok. You’re trying! That’s what I find helps the most is to keep the attitude that no matter what the progress or physical results, I keep trying. The second I start worrying about goals, results, frequency, intensity, or anything else of the sort, I get discouraged and it becomes more difficult to keep going. And worst of all, should you get in a rut and stop exercising for a period of time, it’s ok! Just keep trying and never believe that you’ve failed. Keeping a positive can-do attitude makes such a difference!
So, to wrap this up, my biggest tip is just to move, and take baby steps! Don’t worry about the effectiveness or the frequency. Basically don’t sweat the details and don’t put too much pressure on yourself. If you want to work out, for whatever reason, try to keep the mindset that any movement you can add that you don’t ordinarily do is progress! Park further away than usual at the grocery store. Get up and walk around a bit every so often. You’re already making changes! I’m not saying that it’s easy to get into a fitness routine or that this alone is really sufficient, but as you make slow and often subtle changes, I think you’ll find it becomes easier and easier to add more and more until you’re getting fit without even realizing it! 🙂
As I’ve tried to point out, these are more tips to start/keep going with an exercise routine, not so much an actual plan to get/stay fit. Please share any tips and tricks for staying motivated that you may have in the comments. Fitness is an important thing that is often a real struggle for most of us…myself included! We can all use some help to get going and keep going! 🙂
Most Used Workouts:
Fitness Blender’s Free 5 Day Workout Challenge for Busy People, Day 2 (this entire series is great!)