13 April 2011

Exercise Motivation!

Putting up a poster of some unachievable ideal is NOT one of my tips, but I just thought this picture was so cute!
I've been a bit of a gym rat recently, and it's made me think about and notice some things that can be really helpful in staying motivated. I, like most people, spent most of my years thinking of working out as an unpleasant chore... but by changing the way I work out and adjusting my mindset, it's become one of my favorite things to do! Exercising is so important to our health and it's really something we should all be doing, so if you're having trouble getting motivated, consider some of these tips!

1. Do something you enjoy. Simple, right? If going to the gym bums you out, don't go! Find a different way to get your heart pumping. Take a dance/aerobics/bootcamp/yoga class, go out for a run around your neighborhood, rent a video (there's tons out there, even obscure ones like striptease workouts!), play a sport... there are tons of ways to work out. I personally love the gym equipment and I especially love doing weights workouts, so when I don't feel like going to the gym, I just think about the weights I'll get to do and it makes me happy to go!

2. Find a comfortable environment. I like running on treadmills and ellipticals, but I hate dealing with all the macho douchey boys that seem to live at the UA gym. I'm stuck with it for now, but I made sure my next apartment complex has a fitness center so that I can work out basically at home and usually by myself. Some people like working out amongst lots of other people, but I prefer to do it alone. Do what you like best, and don't settle because if there's anything you don't like about your workout environment, you will probably later use it as a reason not to exercise.

3. Make it entertaining. If the workout itself isn't entertaining enough to distract you from being tired, find something that is. The UA gym has cable tvs attached to every treadmill, elliptical, and bicycle machine- crazy right? So I usually watch an episode of the office or it's always sunny in philadelphia or something while I'm running, and it keeps me entertained. Most people don't have that option though, so make sure to make a good playlist or bring an entertaining book (audio books are great!). If you're bored while working out, you won't enjoy it, and thus you won't want to continue with it. So make it entertaining!

4. Schedule exercising into your daily routine. think about working out as something you need to do, not just something you'll do if you have the time to get to it. Schedule an hour or two into each and every day of the week for working out. If you start looking at exercising as a part of your everyday schedule, rather than something you try to squeeze in if and when there's time, you're bound to be more apt to actually go for it.

5. Enjoy the burn. Everyone knows that exercising comes with pain... the trick is to stop thinking of it as pain and start thinking of it as progress. I've been there, on the treadmill, thinking "this totally sucks, I can't go any further".  But I push myself. I tell myself, "the hell you can't. you CAN do this!" and I sweat, and my calves burn, and my heart races, and my breath quickens... but instead of hating it, I enjoy the sensation of pushing myself to that extreme. Going beyond your comfort zone means that you're learning, you're strengthening, you're progressing. Instead of hating that feeling you get when you're working all your muscles and you just want to quit, enjoy it because it means you're strong, you have willpower, and you are making you body fitter and stronger... not to mention, the feeling when you finally do let yourself quit at the end of the workout is so fricken amazing... and the longer you go without letting yourself quit, the more amazing it is.

6. Make it  hard for yourself to not workout. Keep everything ready, so that there's no reason to not go out and exercise. Keep your workout clothes always folded at the side of your bed. Keep your water bottle filled and in the fridge. Make sure there's always a good playlist or movie or book on your ipod, and keep it charged. If you work out in the morning, set an alarm and don't let yourself hit the snooze button. Let everything in your life allow you to be able to work out and get rid of any possible obstacles.

7. Work out a fitness plan. Going to the gym and not knowing what that hell you are doing is one of the best excuses to leave and not come back. Educate yourself. Know how and what you want to work out and know what kind of cardio you want to do. I'm following a pretty basic self-made plan that combines cardio and weights and works out your abs, chest, back, legs, arms and shoulders. You can check it out here, but I also urge you to construct a plan that works for you. Maybe it's just me, but making plans and lists and outlines excites me... so making a workout regimen makes me doubly excited to work out.

8. Listen to your body. Yeah, this means stop running on the treadmill when you feel like you're going to pass out or throw up... but it also means don't ignore the pains or bubblings or rumblings in your belly after you eat. If I learned anything from eating vegan for a while, it's that your body will tell you what is up. This might not seem like a motivation tip, but it really, really is.  Do me a favor: try to eat only fruits, veggies, whole grains, nuts, and if need be some low fat dairy and meat for a week. after this week, try eating some chips or soda or something else completely devoid of nutritional value... and listen to your body. If you are anything like me, you will not feel good. In fact, you will feel like crap... and this will hopefully make you realize that your body has something to say about this whole healthy living thing. So listen to your body, eat what it wants you to eat... because what it wants you to eat will make you a zillion times more energetic, happy, and excited to work out. Now how's that for motivation for ya?

9. Tell everyone. usually I don't advocate peer pressure, but this can be a good place where it's helpful. Tell your family, your friends, your boyfriend that you're starting this uber cool workout plan and your going to stick with it. If they know you're supposed to do it, not doing it will make you feel guilty... which usually isn't a good thing but in this case it can help you stick to keeping your goals! It can also be especially helpful to invite someone else to come along and workout with you. I prefer working out alone, but having a friend who is depending on working out with you every day is a sure-fire way to keep you going.

10. Last but not least, cut yourself some slack. No one wants to work for a hardass, so you're not going to want to work out if you're too hard on yourself. set reasonable goals for yourself and slowly set them higher as your skills improve. give yourself one or two days a week where you don't need to workout, or swap a couple workouts for fun activities like hiking or swimming. The most important tip I can give you is that working out should be FUN, so don't push it to the point that you aren't having fun anymore. This is something you're doing for YOU because you LOVE yourself... so don't turn it into a chore or a punishment. Kick your own butt, but in a nice, self-assuring way. get it? :)

Happy working out, all. If you have any work-out motivation tips of your own, be sure to put them in the comments! We (especially me) are always in search of things to keep our hearts pumping and legs working :)


  1. Hey! Thanks for taking the time to post all of these tips! I LOVE Zumba classes... it's an incredible workout and super fun :)

  2. Thanks for your comment!! I would be second in line behind you to buy self cleaning dishes!! I love these tips! I'm currently trying to eat healthier foods, and you are so right about finding a way to enjoy your work outs. I personally, am not a gym type person, but I love hiking, walking, and running outside!