Ask many of the people you see at the gym or running at five in the morning, and they will tell you they hate the exercise — but love the results. In fact, you would be hard-pressed to find people who genuinely enjoy giving up that extra hour or two of sleep in their already busy lives to run 5 miles in the morning, or who wouldn’t prefer resting on a couch rather than lifting weights in the gym at five in the evening. So why do they keep doing it? The positive impact on their mental and physical health is great motivation.
Before they ever started, however, they too had to get past the negative emotional response to exercise that many people face. After all, just the thought of running a mile is exhausting. Imagine actually doing it! So, how do you get more fired up about working out to enjoy a longer, fuller, healthier life and create the body you always wanted? Here are a few tips to get you started.
Set Realistic Goals
The media makes it very easy for people to set unrealistic fitness goals. Keep in mind, however, that no matter how much you exercise, not everyone can be stick-thin or have six-pack abs – and certainly not within a few weeks. The fat will not just melt away after your first day ever at the gym, and you won’t get a perfect derriere within the first week of doing squats. Not only are body types different, but some people are not cleared for frequent, extended or high-intensity workouts due to preexisting health conditions.
By setting realistic fitness goals, with plenty of milestones in between, you will be working on many small steps leading up to your big achievement. This can make the process seem much less overwhelming. With this in mind, often the best way to set realistic goals is to consult your doctor, especially if your doctor was the one who recommended more exercise. You may also speak with a personal trainer to fine-tune your workout goals and training plan
Some people love shopping; some people don’t. Whichever is true of you, you may feel more obligated to follow through with exercising when you spend money on doing it right. The first thing many people shop for is clothes, from yoga pants for the gym to the bathing suit or trunks they always wished they could look and feel good in. Some others may also choose to go shopping for a gym membership, which can range from just $10 per month for regular gyms to hundreds of dollars for more specialized facilities.
If you would rather be outdoors, then there are other items you may feel the need to splurge on. The first thing you may want to invest in – if you don’t have them already – is racks for your car. They will allow you to transport things, such as hiking and camping gear, mountain bikes, kayaks and paddle boards. Remember to set a realistic budget before you get started and stick to it so you don’t burn an irreparable hole in your bank account.
Make an Epic Soundtrack
A 2017 study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information revealed several interesting findings regarding the benefits of listening to music during exercise. Firstly, without music, most people are unlikely to try high-intensity exercise for a second time. Secondly, those who listen to music while working out are more likely to repeat the activity they engaged in, even when it is high-intensity. Finally, when listening to music, people tend to think more favorably about the workout, even when it is intense.
For these reasons, it’s important to build your epic soundtrack before you go to the gym. You may need to experiment with different types of music to know what will work for you, but the most popular options tend to be metal rock, rap, hip hop, upbeat pop music and dubstep. If you have no idea where to start, then consider subscribing to a music streaming app and using its premade lists. If the workout is not high-intensity, you may also consider audiobooks in place of music.
Pick a Great Location
When it comes to working out, location is everything. Okay, so maybe not everything, but it does count for a lot. If you plan to work out at home, it’s important to pick a room that provides the space and the privacy to exercise without knocking things over, bumping into other people or having your workout interrupted. If you plan to work out at a gym, then do some research before making a choice. Pick a fitness center that is close to home, looks inviting and has activities you actually want to participate in. This can motivate you to not just show up for the first month, but to keep going thereafter.
If the idea of working out indoors drives you nuts, or you just want to switch things up every so often, then location is even more important. You will likely feel far more inspired to hike up a mountain if the view is worth the climb. Similarly, kayaking is far more enjoyable if you know there is more to see than just murky, open water. When picking outdoor locations, make selections that look good on camera, and by all means, bring the camera along. If you’re worried about getting it wet, there are plenty of waterproof bags and cases designed to keep your electronics dry and safe.
Make It a Group Activity
For many people, working out alone is the best way to start out. This is especially true for people who may not feel comfortable using fancy machines at the gym or who feel self-conscious about their bodies. For others, making workouts a group activity is sometimes the difference between a long-term commitment and no commitment at all. This is because there is a good side to peer pressure. For example, if you join a group that meets every Thursday evening to go running, hiking or rock climbing, you may feel more pressured to keep going so as not to disappoint the group. It is usually much easier to cancel on yourself than others.
There is no need for large groups, however. If you spend any time on social media, you may notice the many couples who build strong relationships by working out together. Whether you are married or dating, working out as a couple is a great way to learn new things together, learn to function better as partners and increase physical attraction as you become healthier and more toned. It’s also an excellent way to kill the monotony of dinner, movie and couch dates.
Listen to Your Body
Once you get into the habit of working out, pushing yourself becomes necessary. Otherwise, you may plateau, stop seeing results and become discouraged. However, it’s important not to push yourself too hard. An injury or embarrassing failure could bring you right back to where you started, i.e., dreading your workouts. Always follow advice from medical practitioners about when to resume working out if you injure yourself, or you may make the injury worse and slow down the time it takes to heal.
If you have a preexisting health condition, then listening to your body is even more important. Muscle pain, shortness of breath and exhaustion are all common parts of exercising and pushing your limits. However, if you feel faint, have serious difficulty breathing or feel a sharp and unbearable pain, it is definitely time to call it quits, or at least take a break. Talk to your doctor about these incidents and adjust accordingly with your personal trainer, if you have one.
Some people will tell you exercise is its own reward, but it may take a long time before you see the kind of results that make this feel true for you. In the interim, it’s important to reward yourself. This might include having a small dessert or other favorite dish. Just be sure not to overdo it. You don’t want to undo all the hard work you put in by downing hundreds or even thousands of calories after you get home from the gym.
To avoid that temptation altogether, some people choose rewards not related to food. These types of rewards may include sleeping for an extra hour on workout days, taking a vacation to a beach location if you sculpt the body you want or purchasing an expensive item if you managed to consistently work out every week. Make the reward something you know you will have a hard time saying no to, but you must have the self-restraint to deny yourself the reward if you don’t follow through with your workout goals.
If the thought of working out fills you with dread, you are not alone. Many people have developed a negative emotional response to exercise. However, to enjoy the amazing results of working out, you have to push through that initial feeling of lethargy and impending doom. Once you start to see increases in your stamina and strength, and decreases in your weight and health complaints, your outlook will likely start to change.