Get Worked Up Over Working Out!

Photo credit: d26b73 via Foter.com / CC BY

Photo credit: d26b73 via Foter.com / CC BY

I have a confession to make.  Yesterday was my first day back to the gym after a two month absence.  Two entire months of no working out!  That’s 1/6th of a year.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m no gym rat.  My fitness goals do not include an 8-pack or 6 minute mile.  I go to the gym to get in a little bit of cardio, maybe use a weight machine or two, and then end up at the sauna to maximize the sweaty-ness.  If I’m feeling up for it, sometimes I will end my workout at home with some yoga, push-ups, and stretching.  I might even throw in some squats for good measure.  However, all of this occurs three times a week (at best), since running a solo practice seems to have taken over almost all aspects of my life.  But for the past two months, I haven’t even managed to do a 5-minute yoga session at home!

I could make excuses about why I have gone for this long without physical activity, but what good would that do?  My hope is that by publicly admitting to my neglect of this aspect of my health, I will not only motivate myself but hopefully a few others in the process.  So, here are some workout motivation tips that I’ve found work for me (but I obviously need to remind myself of) or have come across over the years.

Photo credit: USDAgov via Foter.com / CC BY

Photo credit: USDAgov via Foter.com / CC BY

1. Find a true motivator

While setting goals like lose X amount of pounds or fit into a size Y jeans can be helpful for tracking progress, this should not be your main source of motivation to workout.  Why? Because superficial goals that are based on physical appearance do not have your true self and health in mind.  Instead, try thinking of a deeper reason or meaning you have for working out.  For example, I love Parkour (to see what it is, watch this video) and would love to be able to actually do some moves one day.  In order to get there, I have to build up my strength by working out (trust me, I’ve tried some very basic Parkour moves and I luckily ended up with just a scraped shin). Another example might be having energy to play with your grandkids or being able to hike and enjoy nature.  Key #1: Think of something that gives you pure joy and see how you can relate it to exercising.  When you’re feeling stuck in a rut, use your joyful motivator to get you going.

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Get in the mood

2. Get in the mood

Not that mood 😉 But seriously, just watching other people be active can be motivating.  I can’t even tell you how many times after watching the Biggest Loser or a Parkour video, I would go workout.  Something about seeing other people striving towards their health goals always motivates me to pursue my own.
Another way to “set the mood” is to get dressed for the part.  Sometimes putting on a sports bra and running shoes is half the battle.  Once you initiate the first step of working out, it gets you into the right mindset and makes the rest of the process, the actual working out, much easier.  Key #2: Once you are in the right outfit, it’s easier to get into the right frame of mind.

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3. Visualize the end-game

Imagine you just had an invigorating work-out.  You are covered in sweat from head-to-toe and are getting ready to head home and clean yourself up.  How do you feel in that moment?  On top of the world? Like you accomplished something you had set your mind to? Proud that you’re taking positive steps that are in line with your true motivation for better health?  Can’t you feel the excuses melting away as that feeling of accomplishment fills you up?  Key #3: When you feel the excuses start to form, close your eyes and imagine how amazing you feel after working out.  Now make that feeling a reality! 

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4. Schedule it

Making sure you set aside time in your day for your workouts is essential, especially if you’re a busy bee like me.  If it isn’t on the calendar, life will find other things to fill up your time. And remember, a 30 minute workout takes up only 2% of your day!  If you really feel like you have no time to workout, than you must have forgotten that you and your health are your number one priority. Without health, you’re not able to do all the wonderful things that you are meant to do. Key #4: As Stephen Covey says, “The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.”  

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5. Baby steps

I am a broken record when it comes to baby steps.  So what if you didn’t do a 90-minute-sweat-dripping-out-of-every-pore workout?  Big deal if all you managed was some light yoga for 15 minutes?  And bigger deal if 5 minutes of that was spent in Shavasana (aka Corpse pose aka relax-on-the-floor-with-your-eyes-closed pose)?  The point is, you got your body moving and that’s what matters.  And who knows, once you get going, you might go farther than you thought!  The only person you’re really competing with is you so who cares where you start as long as you start somewhere.
Also, exercise does not have to mean gym or treadmill time.  Becoming aware of small physical activities you do as a part of daily life might make you more prone to take that extra step. For example, yesterday I had to refill the water jugs for the office dispenser. Instead of parking close to the office to unload the water and then move my car, I purposely parked in my usual spot (which is farther away) and hauled each 40 pound water jug the 200 feet to the office and up the stairs.  After carrying two of those jugs, I definitely got a mini-workout in. Key #5: Every little bit of movement counts and making baby steps is better than no steps.

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6. Get a Buddy

Workout buddy, that is.  It is so much easier to stay motivated when you know that you have a friend to meet you at the gym or cheer you on through the last leg of your run.  You can keep each other accountable without the intimidation of a drill sergeant.  But choose wisely.  The last person you want as a work-out buddy is someone who’s unreliable and will bail at any and every opportunity.  Also, finding someone who enjoys the same types of exercise as you is key.  If one person doesn’t seem to be your workout soulmate, there’s nothing wrong with having different workout buddies for different activities. Key #6: Socializing while working-out with a friend makes the time pass quickly and keeps you accountable to someone other than yourself.

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7. Make moving fun

If you don’t enjoy running on a treadmill at the gym, then it makes sense that you avoid it.  So try finding exercises or activities that you enjoy and look forward to.  Or dare I say, try something new.  Perhaps you’ve had your eye on that dance or yoga class but have been waiting for the right moment.  This is the moment, my friend. Dancing, yoga, team sports, and hiking are great examples of activities that people find enjoyable and keep you moving!  Key #7: Mixing in activities you love can make working-out something you actually look forward to.  

I hope that some, or at least one, of these tips will help inspire you.  Working out is still a work in progress for me but I’m committing to you to doing some kind of exercise at least 5 times a week.  What tips or motivators do you use when you need to get re-inspired?

Stay radiant,
Dr. Russell

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