If you’re a warm weather lover like I am, you may find it harder to get motivated to work out this time of year. You can find a million excuses, such as the bed is warm, the weather is bad, I have a headache, my legs are sore, etc. etc. The truth is exercise will almost always make you feel better, unless of course you have the flu or a major injury.
So how do we get over this hump? The key is to have mantras, rewards and other little tricks of the mind to jump-start your motivation on days you don’t feel like working out.
Let’s start with timing. The best time for you to work out is when your brain is fresh. For most people that means early morning before work. After you have worked all day, your brain is exhausted and can’t give 100 percent to a workout. Of course you may have to resort to bribery to get yourself out of bed. Make a deal with yourself to have a healthy treat ONLY after you work out, such as a yummy egg white omelet or a skinny latte from the coffee shop. Other tricks could be to save your favorite show for when you’re on the treadmill or make a new music playlist for your ipod.
Speaking of bribes, make mini goals and treat yourself when you have acheived each one. For example, try keeping a calendar of your workouts and for every 12 workouts completed go get a pedicure or a new top to show off your muscles. Keep this calendar where it is visible every day. Be sure to write your goal at the top and check off each time you have worked toward it. Just the act of writing it down will solidify your commitment.
We all know that exercise is good for us; it can help lower your risk for cancer, heart disease and a slew of other scary illnesses. But those long-term benfits seem pretty abstract when you’re trying to tear yourself away from the TV, your family duties, or work. The people who stick to exercise the longest are those who do it for the instant gratification of more energy and less stress. The next time you finish a workout, make a mental note about how great you feel and draw upon those feelings when you get ready for your next exercise session.
Visualize yourself at your healthiest, fittest and strongest. What do you look like and how great to you feel? How would this confidence seep into other areas of your life? “Picturing yourself accomplishing something may create a neural pathway in your brain in almost the same way as actually completing the feat would,” explains Kathleen Martin Ginis, Ph.D., a professor at McMaster University in Canada. (Fitness Magazine, September 2012)
If you used to do a workout that you loved, go back to that until you get back in the groove. It will be easier to start moving again when you do an exercise program that you know you will be good at. Your brain and body will remember the motions so that it doesn’t feel so hard. Once you are back in the regular habit of exercise, set a new goal or try a new class or sport to keep your workout fresh and challenging. If you’re involved in a specific sport or activity that you feel is starting to get boring, try purchasing a book or DVD on the subject to get you excited again.
Finally, join a club or fitness group. You can go online and find a community for just about any type of exercise these days. Think about what type of workout inspires you. It can be running, dancing, a sport, Pilates, boxing, etc. If you haven’t found what moves you yet, try joining a group like the Wilmington Health Nuts. They try out new health and fitness related businesses a few times each month, usually at a discounted rate. The friendly competition and camaraderie are sure to get you going.
If you need help setting goals or coming up with fitness ideas for the new year call me! Cheers to a healthy and happy 2013.