Anyone out there struggling with motivation or finding the time to exercise? It can be so tough to stay on track with fitness goals and I wanted to post a few things that have worked for me.
I have been very dedicated to my current routine for about 4 years now. I gained a lot of weight when I had my children (15 months apart) and these tips are what finally helped me to get the baby weight off. My weight still fluctuates a tiny bit- depending on how clean my diet is- but overall I have never felt more strong and energized.
I know many of you are very fit and I’d love to hear what your tips are for staying healthy- so please share your ideas in the comments below!
1. Find What Works for You.
I know this is easier said then done but the first step is figuring out what works for you. If you want to join a gym- well get yourself in there and sign on the dotted line. If you aren’t a gym person- what other options do you like? Running? Videos at home? When I started back at the gym after having both of my girls, I knew I needed to find a place that had great classes. I am not motivated by myself – so running has never been a good option. I usually quit early on and the same with workout DVDs. My ADD kicks in and I find any excuse in the world to quit.
So I toured several gyms and found one nearby with a fantastic list of classes. If you do decide to go the classes route, understand not all classes are created equally.
I took several months and went to different classes and took different instructors and finally discovered what worked for me. I have been a fan of Zumba for years now but I have one specific instructor that I adore for Zumba and I work my schedule around her teaching. I have taken classes with other instructors and left disappointed and frustrated. So don’t cross something off the list just because your first experience is poor. Maybe you hate the strength training classes but is there a class with great music that makes it more fun? Or a really inspiring teacher that is super fit that motivates you to keep busting your buns? Or a fun personality? Maybe other people that regularly show up at class that you can bond with over miserable burpees? All of those things can make a huge difference in staying on track with your goals.
2. Showing up is half the battle.
I hate it when people say this but it really is true. Just committing to going to your class or getting your shoes on and out the door is half the battle. I know many people say- Well I am too busy to exercise. I can’t fit it into my schedule. Really I think this is the time for a little tough love. You CAN fit it in. You can’t afford not to fit it in. Don’t allow yourself to feel guilty for the time you spend at the gym (and away from your family) or allow yourself to make excuses to skip it. It only takes a few days of skipping it and you will easily gain a few pounds and get yourself out of the habit of exercise.
And really if I can do it- anyone can do it. Sometimes I feel so overwhelmed with all the things I need to get done, my gym routine just falls down lower and lower on the priority list. But I force myself to push it back up and I repeat to myself over and over that the world won’t stop because I took 60 minutes for Piloga today. The emails can wait, the blog can wait, my kid’s will be fine in the daycare center and taking care of my health just has to be a priority today.
Make the decision that you simply have to get exercise into your routine period. There are lots of things I do during the day that I dislike- laundry anyone?- but the alternative of showing up to school drop off naked isn’t a great option. So I just do it. Exercise has to be the same- don’t allow yourself to think of alternatives.
3. This is Your Workout.
Now you might be feeling pretty pleased with yourself for showing up to the gym or the track but that isn’t enough. I see so many people in my classes that totally coast through the class on auto pilot. While it is wonderful that you are doing something, you still have to focus to really maximize your time and push yourself.
When you first start back on a routine, I totally understand showing up and muddling along. I certainly did that with Zumba- it took several classes for me to start catching the steps and choreography and not feel like a total train wreck (or like I might have a heart attack- lol!) But once your fitness level increases it is so important to keep your head in the game and continue to push yourself.
I tend to check out for my workouts- my mind gets going with the to do lists and I can often get really careless and sloppy. Especially in Zumba. I try hard to keep reminding myself over and over to push harder, run a little faster, jump a little higher. The same goes for my Piloga and weight classes- I tend to stick to lighter weights or get a little lazy with plank work and such. I try to stay in the moment during all my classes and focus- can I do a few more reps at this higher weight? Can I do 5 more pushups without putting my knees down? Can I hold this plank for 30 more seconds? You are investing your precious time to be in the class so why not continue to push yourself a little more each day? Remember this is YOUR workout and it is entirely up to you to make it worthwhile.
4. Prioritize Fitness.
And to go along with what I have already said, fitness and health just have to be part of your lifestyle. I look at the gym as an investment in my overall health and really my sanity too. I am a better Mother, Wife and Friend when I am investing time into my health. I have more focus and my mood is better and I just feel more productive. We have several friends and family members with issues with weight and they are constantly facing so many health problems. Fatigue is one major complaint I hear a lot. I have noticed since I really committed to my fitness, I am rarely sick and I have so much energy to get things done during the day. Plus at night I sleep really well.
Do you know Richard Branson? Gazillionaire and wildly successful businessman with his fingers in numerous industries? (I am a personal fan because I adore flying on Virgin Airlines- love!)
When asked what his number one tip for becoming more productive is he has responded– Exercise. That is the number one thing he has found to supercharge his productivity- increasing energy and stamina and decreasing stress. And if Richard Branson is handing out tips for success I am certainly going to listen.
5. Clothes do matter.
I know that cost can be an issue for many people when they start a fitness program. The gym is not cheap and when you add extra equipment and gear into the mix… well it is an investment.
I firmly believe the clothes DO count though and there are great options for any budget. I personally like to wear bright, cheerful and nicely fitted clothes to the gym. I don’t always feel like I look fabulous in my form fitting clothing but I notice I seem to be more energized. On occasion when I am in a super rush and throw on any old thing- I am often looking in the mirror and thinking negative thoughts about myself rather then focusing on pushing myself to my limits in my workout. Schlepy old sweat pants don’t lend themselves to kicking hard, squatting low, jumping high etc… Schlepy old pants lend themselves to being schlepy.
I am hard on my gym clothes so I believe fully in investing in quality things. The better quality workout pants from places like Lucy or GapBody or Lululemon will be thicker which gives you a much nicer shape (like wearing Spanx under a light dress)- and they will hold up for a zillion washes. Plus I notice with thinner cotton yoga pants you can sometimes see through those suckers! May not be a big deal when you are walking out of the house but trying putting yourself into downward dog and take a look in the mirror- Yikes! ;P
6. Get a buddy.
I know we have heard this over and over but it is so true! Having a support system is so important to making fitness part of your routine. With social media now it is so easy to find encouragement in your progress- either connecting with people during your workout or on Facebook or Instagram. I have lots of friends that are runners in various cities and I love seeing their runs or accomplishments. I am not a runner but it keeps me motivated to get my bum up off the couch and off to the gym. At the gym, part of the fun is the circle of friends I have made through various classes. It keeps me accountable because people notice if I am skipping out. I get a text or a Facebook message- Hey where were you today! and again it just really helps to have a support system to help me stay on track. And if you don’t have real life friends that keep you motivated- try online. Search Instagram or Pinterest for health and fitness and you might be really inspired!
And on that note of the buddy system- I like to focus on one or two people in class that are working extremely hard. As I mentioned above it is hard to give it 100% each and every time I exercise so I like to focus on someone really going above and beyond and that helps me push myself just a little bit harder.
My kiddos are a great source of motivation too. I want them to see that Mommy is strong and healthy and full of life. We did a 5k earlier this summer together and the girls always see me incorporating exercise into our everyday lives. We go hiking, walking, play sports, jump on trampolines, do laps at the pool– all kinds of things they love but that also keeps us active. Recently I caught my 5 year old on the ground in a push up position. She yelled up “Look I’m Mommy!” and my heart just overflowed. These little stinkers watch everything we do and I want to set the best example I possibly can for them. Yup! Mommy does push ups and you can too my little one!
7. Feel better!
Have you ever heard of a runner’s high? Well personally I think it is an urban myth because I have never felt exhilarated when running. Usually I feel sweaty and my side aches but I have felt a workout high after an intense hour at the gym.
Recently I came home from 5 days of eating and drinking at a conference that turned into a little girl’s weekend. I didn’t exercise at all unless you count shopping and walking to the fancy cupcake store. I was feeling bloated and pudgy and tired when I got home. I immediately dove into (2) classes that I knew would kick my fanny and about halfway through one class I just instantly felt elated. I was sweating out all the glasses of wine and pastries and I seriously left the gym feeling really fantastic. So I can promise that a runner’s high is really true, you just have to figure out what activities will get you there.
Now I am back from yet another conference and although the temptation is really high to blow off my workout and spend the time catching up on stuff instead, I just know I will feel so much better once I get ‘er done.
So instead of focusing on how uncomfortable you might feel- try to shift your mindset and focus on how great you are going to feel once it is done. I bet you feel stronger, healthier and like you really accomplished something.
8. Take Inspiration Photos.
Another tip is to just strategically tape inspiration photos somewhere in your house. Either photos of yourself that are less then flattering or a photo of a trip you want to take or someone you admire… anything that might inspire you.
What has worked for me in the past is an old tv segment that I did a few months after my second child was born. Let’s just say I did not look my best. I keep that one in mind when I start to feel lazy. Something that really motivated me this summer was focusing on being the Mom in the photo and not hiding from the photos. I want to be the Mom on the beach splashing with the kids or on the waterslides or out hiking and biking and not the one sitting on the sidelines because I am too tired or I don’t dare put on a bathing suit.
One other thing I like to keep in mind is this quote from Gisele Bundchen. Now I am not a fan of Gisele personally by any stretch and a lot of what she says does not sit well with me. However one of her quotes did resonate and I focus on this a lot when I am struggling to push myself through exercise:
I don’t know why that resonates with me but it is tough love for sure. I am not currently pregnant but I do tend to struggle with clean eating (fresh baked chocolate chip cookie anyone?) and so this quote always reminds me to treat my body with the respect it deserves. I think about this from time to time in workouts and it helps me to stay focused.
9. Establish Goals.
This sort of ties into the point above but if you can establish clear and hopefully attainable goals, sometimes that helps to stay on track. I don’t usually use the scale for goals although I do weight myself every few months on the scale at the gym just to be sure things are around the same place.
Some ideas for goals might be shaving off time on your morning run, increasing hand weights from 7.5 lbs to 10 lbs, holding a plank for 2 minutes, fitting into xyz clothing item etc… You might set weekly, monthly or quarterly goals for yourself and most importantly revisit these goals and see how you progress.
If you really want to set yourself up for success you might consider building a vision board around your goals for fitness or your life in general. I have a vision board that has some goals I have for the blog, for my personal relationships, parenting etc… and my health is a very key component.
10. Reward your hard work!
And last but not least little rewards can be inspiring on stay on track. This can be anything that might motivate you- perhaps you put $1 in a jar each time you work out. Or set incentives to hit the goals we discussed above. I like to reward myself for staying on track with regular pedicures. I used to feel a little guilty spending money on things that were luxuries but I have changed my mind. I spend so much time being mean to my feet- pounding them on the pavement, asking them to jump higher in Zumba, balancing on them in yoga…. indulging in a monthly pedicure is my little reward for the hard work.
I also splurge on exercise clothes- I just got this cute Nike top because it is lightweight and I got the pretty purple color which I love. I know I will feel great wearing it to exercise and since I seem to wear workout clothes on errands before and after the gym- might as well get something that won’t make me feel gross.
So figure out what might be a great incentive and reward to treat yourself and hopefully that might be just enough motivation to stay on track.
I hope some of these tips help you to get your fanny in gear and as I mentioned above please share your great tips in the comments below.
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