We’re a couple weeks into 2018, which means that everyone has already broken their New Year’s resolution to eat better and start exercising, right? I know personally, I have been using my chest cold as an excuse to skip the gym for a straight week, and at the time of writing this, I just ordered a queso burrito from Lime for dinner. So…you know where I’m at. Shrug emoji.
Working out can be hard–not just physically, but mentally, emotionally. I know I’m not the only person who fights a near-daily internal battle over whether or not to exercise. And the funny thing is, I like working out. Not the act itself, so much as how I feel afterward, but even the act itself isn’t that bad. I actually enjoy yoga, although cardio is not my BFF. But even though I know it will make me feel good, it’s still tough to get motivated.
If you want to begin exercising, or you’re just trying to get back into it after your annual holiday season plummet off the wagon, the best piece of advice I can give is to start very, very small. When I started exercising regularly, I did gentle yoga twice a week. It was extremely low impact (although I was out of shape enough to feel it!) and I did it inside my house. There’s no reason to jump right into some intense routine–this might even cause you to feel overwhelmed and give up. I say take baby steps! There are tons of great exercise videos on YouTube, from low impact cardio and weight training to beginner’s yoga. One of my personal faves on YouTube is Yoga With Adrienne.
Don’t do something you hate
Do you hate running? Despise the elliptical? Do something else! There are a million ways to exercise and burn calories and you don’t have to do anything you don’t enjoy doing. Try a little bit of everything–join a class, take a walk in your favorite park, dance, whatever you want. If you absolutely loathe what you’re doing, it’s going to be even harder to stay motivated, so find something you enjoy. It’s okay to keep looking if you start something and decide it sucks.
Bring a friend
This one is pretty simple. Friends are great motivators, especially if they’re also on their own fitness journey. Having a friend to cheer you on (and suffer with you) can make things a lot easier. Of course, this can have the opposite effect for some people (I personally prefer to work out alone) but if you’re the misery-loves-company type, get a workout buddy.
Something that really works for me is a reward system. I like to choose a new TV show to binge, but then only allow myself to watch an episode while I’m on the treadmill. This sometimes–seriously–makes me want to go to the gym, because I’m dying to know what happens next. But it doesn’t have to be a TV show. Just pick something you want, and reward yourself with it once you’ve exercised. Except, uh, not food. That can start an unhealthy cycle that you don’t want to be in.
Go easy on yourself
Probably the most important piece of advice I can think of is to give yourself an effing break. We have all kinds of stupid shit wrapped in with how we think about exercise, from the pressures of the media to our own warped body images. Working out should be something you do because it’s good for you and it feels good. If you’re not good at it right away, or you struggle to stay committed, it’s not the end of the world. You’re not “being bad” if you skip the gym for happy hour. You’re just choosing a different way to spend one evening.
I am not an active person, and never have been. Regular exercise definitely doesn’t come naturally for me. But some of these tips have made things a little less painful for me. What do you do to stay motivated?