I love pasta and I hate running. These are not the best attributes to have when you want to get healthy and lose weight. In the past six months I’ve taken steps towards becoming healthier: I’ve quit smoking, started exercising, and stopped eating my beloved pasta regularly. I’m proud of the steps I’ve taken towards being happier and healthier, but I still run into issues with my workout. I’m always having an inner battle over heading to the gym, going on a bike ride, or choosing fruit over chips.
Fortunately, I’ve discovered ways to enjoy my workouts. I’ve learned to prefer healthy snacks and spending an hour on a treadmill over sitting on the couch with a soda. The tricks, I’ve found, take some self-reflection, some accountability, a little less rigidity and the involvement of my loved ones.
Don’t be too rigid
I work the best on a strict schedule. I love planning out my weekly meals, workout routine, and my personal schedule. When I go to the gym I stay for one hour no matter what and I stay on each machine for a set amount of time. Despite my love for a tight schedule, this rigid workout plan was killing me. I didn’t like going to the gym. I stared at the time on the treadmill and willed the numbers to go faster. Finally, I decided the strict schedule at the gym had to go.
When you are at the gym make sure you hold yourself accountable while still listening to your needs. It’s natural to be tired and want to quit after a while, but don’t give up so easily. However, if the one hour time schedule has you feeling overwhelmed, cut down the time, change machines, or don’t tell yourself you have to stick to a time if it’s unrealistic to do so. Instead of going to the gym twice a week for one hour, go four times a week for a half an hour instead. It’s better to change your schedule so it fits you rather than losing motivation and quitting because you hate your workout.
Identify the problem
Figure out what the issue is. Do you hate the location, your gym clothes, or the equipment? Maybe you dislike too much cardio or that you’re missing your favorite show. Identify the issue and remedy it. Don’t like the location? Go to a new gym or workout at home. Don’t like your gym clothes? Get a new workout outfit. Dislike the equipment or doing cardio? Change up your workout. Adding variation in your workout will do wonders for your motivation. Think outside the box and put it on your calendar: Do cardio on Monday, lift weights on Wednesday, ride your bike around your neighborhood on Friday, and take a yoga class on Sunday.
Are you having problems sticking to your cardio? Try watching an episode of your favorite sitcom on Netflix on your phone. They last between 20 and 30 minutes and the time will go by faster. Use the sauna or hot tub at the end of your hour long workout to relax and cut your time by 10-15 minutes. Take advantage of your gym’s employees and ask to learn the weight lifting machines or take a class that they offer.
Working out and staying healthy really doesn’t come easy to all of us. It requires a lot of discipline, sacrifices, and slip ups. There is a lot involved with working out and getting healthy that feels like you’re behind everyone else, it can feel exhausting, or that you aren’t making progress. The reality is that you are doing great just by making the decision to be healthier. It’s important to dust yourself off and keep trying when you take a step backwards, and to celebrate when you take steps forward.
Think of rewards that aid in your health efforts. Buy new workout clothes, take a dance class, get a new water bottle, take some extra time in the sauna, or invest in an active hobby like hiking. Rewarding effort is just as important as being accountable for the lack of effort. Try not to compare yourselves to others. Your goal for a reward can be you running for two miles on a treadmill even if your friends or family can run two miles as a warm up. We all have our goals and yours don’t have to match anyone else’s.
Involve the family
For me it was really hard to spend time away from my fiancé and my dog to go to the gym. I spent all day away from them and then had to be away from them again to head to my workout. I find that this can be a big struggle for families as well. It can be difficult learning to spend time away from children to workout, eat different meals than your family, or focus on ourselves instead of your usual responsibilities with your family. Fortunately, there are ways to include the family in your track to be healthy.
In order to combat my issues, I added bike rides with my pup into my workout schedule. This helped my issues with being away from my dog while also helping me stay motivated by changing up my cardio. Now I get a workout and my pup gets a nice run to get some of his energy out. Also, my fiancé joined my gym so that we could work out together. Although we aren’t always near each other or conversing, it feels better to have him there with me and supporting me. I cook healthy meals for the both of us and working out together helps us both stay accountable for our workouts. When I’m craving a snack, I choose fruits that I can share with my dog. All of these small changes have made it easier to stick to my workout and my diet without compromising time with my family. For those with kids, you can substitute a gym day with a bike ride to the park with your kids, a walk around the neighborhood with the stroller, or playing a game of soccer.
Take a break
Don’t let yourself get too run down. Working out seven days a week isn’t necessary to stay healthy and lose weight. Don’t get me wrong, if you want to hit the gym every day all the power to you! But don’t push yourself too hard. If you are stressed at work, overflowing with laundry, or have a bunch of engagements to attend, it’s okay to skip the gym. Herein lies the fine line between giving yourself a break and holding yourself accountable. Try to make up the time the next week or add an at-home activity in that day instead. Maybe you make a super healthy meal that day to make up for it, or maybe you just let that week go. All of these options are fine; just don’t get in the habit of making excuses to get out of the gym.
The key here is balance. It’s okay to take a break from the gym or have a cheat day if you can balance that out with the rest of your days. Don’t allow your cheat days or days off from the gym to extend further than you intend them to. It’s a slippery slope for some of us and I’ve definitely been guilty of getting swept up into time off from work outs and more time with cookies.
I still have a long way to go to get to where I want to be, but at least I’ve started the journey. Some days I still eat pasta, some days I ditch the gym to go to a movie, but I’m much better at using my breaks in a very limited fashion and holding myself accountable to reach my goals. I’ve discovered my workout issues, learned to be more lenient with my gym time, rewarded myself for my success, and found a way to involve my family in my healthy lifestyle. So far I’ve managed to stay motivated, discovered how to enjoy my workouts, and I am confident that I will be able to reach my goals.
What about you? How do you stay motivated to work out? Post in the comments and let us know!