Making it to a cardio class every now and then isn't that hard, but actually enjoying the workout and incorporating it into a regular fitness schedule is definitely quite the challenge. That's why it's important to find exercise that's fun and internal motivation to develop the habit.
As humans, we tend to equate working out with a number of external rewards: achieving a body we might want or having an excuse to buy expensive and fashionable exercise apparel. Unfortunately, this mentality can lead to failure. We're less likely to develop an exercise regimen out of sheer enjoyment and personal drive, and our external motivations can cause us to think of exercise as punishment, perhaps leading to an unhealthy relationship with food, exercise and body-image. If you feel that you're suffering from the latter, there are resources that can help you heal and embrace exercise in a newfound, positive way.
As a certified health coach, I observe obstacles regarding the implementation of a healthy, workout routine. It's tough to squeeze in the time and to be open to pushing your body to new, though-could-be-exciting, heights.
Whether you're too busy, too tired, or just haven't found success yet, here are 6 ways to find exercises you love and actually stick with them.
1. Try New Classes
There's no better way to find workouts that you love than to experiment with a variety of different motions and techniques. "Join a gym or sign up for a fitness-class-pass company, like Class Pass, even just for one month, and try everything and get your money's worth," says Suzie Lemmer, running coach and blogger at Suzlyfe, in an email to Bustle. Think about activities that bring you joy and find their counterparts in the exercise world. Love to dance? Try Zumba or barre class. Do you love loud-pumping music, intense sprints, and high-energy? Opting for spin, bootcamp or kickboxing will probably be more your speed than Pilates or barre. Not sure? Try everything! If you don't like it, try something else.
2. Recruit A Buddy
Working out with a pal is both fun and helpful for developing a habit. Partners can hold you accountable and enhance performance, as there's a healthy level of motivation and competition. Plus, it's a lot easier to skip a workout solo than it is to let someone else down. When your teammate is counting on you to show up, you're going to be there. "Social accountability is going to be one of the most important pieces for sticking with a program long-term," says Todd Nief, owner of South Loop Strength & Conditioning, in an interview over email with Bustle,"due to camaraderie, support and text messages from friends at the gym." Accountability partners also don't have to be in person, as virtual connections have been proven just as beneficial. FaceTime your friend across the world, if that'll motivate you long-term!
3. Pencil It In
Write down gym time, classes, and training sessions on the calendar, as you would a work or doctor appointment. Prioritize exercise as a healthy activity that is important to you, and make a promise to yourself that you will hold yourself to the allotted time. "Make an appointment with yourself three days a week, " Lemmer says. "Would you cancel on an important work meeting? Didn't think so." I'm with you, coach.
4. Stick To A Regular Time
Many experts believe that choosing a time that works best and sticking with it throughout the week will create a habit. If you find that the later it gets in the day, the more unexpected work pops up and the less time you have to fit in a workout, then waking up a bit earlier to hit the trails in the morning might be best. Set a plan to wake up at the same time each morning you have a workout scheduled so that your body can adjust to the new appointment. It'll start waking up on its own, with time! Likewise, if you found a class you love, become a regular at that specific class time and make friends with the instructor and other regulars. You'll even reap some social benefits!
5. Be Patient With Results
Strength and performance results can certainly fluctuate over time, and while certain results might be speedier at first, you're likely to encounter body-building and strengthening plateaus once your body adjusts and cannot achieve the same results. "It's much harder to keep motivation up when you've been training for three weeks, you're extremely sore, and the results aren't coming quite as quickly as you'd hoped," warns Nief. So, it's best to acknowledge the obstacles, keep your spirits lifted, perhaps try new exercises to shake things up, and be patient. You should also check in with other lifestyle factors: sleep, diet, and stress. These factors could be stopping you from achieving results if there's an imbalance present.
6. Make It Convenient
Working out takes time. Between the commuting, changing and showering, it can make us feel as though we simply don't have time to get in enough of a workout to affect our goals. However, making exercise convenient can help us stick with an exercise plan. If you workout first thing in the morning, either sleep in your gear or pack everything the night before, and leave the bag by the door. Do you work out during a lunch break? Investing in a locker at a gym near your office might be a good idea. Can't afford a gym membership or boutique class? Perform bodyweight exercises on YouTube in the comfort of your own home. Hate gym crowds? Purchase a machine and a few exercise materials, such as kettlebells and TRX straps, to store in your home or office.
Having a positive attitude when it comes to working out is really the key towards reaching success, finding activities you look forward to each day, and forming a healthy, habit long-term. Tell yourself you are working out to better your body, mind, and overall wellbeing. Reward yourself with the positive feelings and health benefits of physical activity, because, really, you deserve it.
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