Whether you’re sticking to a new years resolution, preparing for Valentine’s day, working off that winter body, or just want to start hitting the gym, I know first hand how difficult it can be to force yourself to go. I’ve been through the cycle of working out a few months, then having some excuse pop up, and boom: back to not working out. It’s incredibly frustrating and discouraging. Oftentimes, it feels like we’re fighting an uphill battle: our schedules feel cramped enough without adding exercise in the mix.
While we can’t freeze time, making time for working out is a lot easier when it’s something you look forward to. This won’t happen overnight: this is something that will happen with time, patience, and willpower. It took over 6 months of going to the gym 5 days a week for me to actually start craving it, but it was well worth it. Now, going to the gym after work is something I’m *knock on wood* excited for. I love being able to put my headphones in, get lost in my soundtrack and endorphins, and work off the stress of my day. Now, besides physically going, there’s a few other things you can do to become an exercise addict, and I’ve outlined them here:
- Listen to Science
I listed this first because it should be the easiest thing to do on this list. Science has proven time and time again that our brains enjoy exercise. When we engage in exercise, neurochemicals are released that make us happy, such as endorphins and Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) proteins. Endorphins trigger a euphoric, positive feeling in the body during and after exercise, also colloquially known as a “runner’s high”. BDNF proteins, along with endorphins, can reduce stress and create feelings of ease. Who wouldn’t want that, right? Luckily, there’s nothing you need to physically do for this step. Just remember that every time you work out, your mind unconsciously start to associate happiness with exercise: now your conscious part of your brain just has to realize it, which will come in time. Soon, you’ll be an exercise fiend!
- Make It Something You Enjoy
Treat working out like a choice (which it is), not a chore. It’s hard to look forward to something when it feels like you’re hating every second of it, so make sure your routine is enjoyable. As I said above, any sort of exercise is going to release endorphins, but there will be some that will be more fun than others. Running isn’t for everyone. Crossfit isn’t for everyone. Weight lifting isn’t for everyone. If going to the gym isn’t your thing, this list has 101 ways to exercise without going there. In a broader sense, this quiz may offer some insight as to what your “exercise style” is. And don’t forget the benefit of an exercise buddy! Time seems to go by quicker when you’re chatting with someone and have some companionship. Plus, it can keep you accountable and motivated.
- Be Prepared
Integrate your exercise schedule into your day. I find myself skipping my workout when I have to go home to grab my gym bag, rather than just bringing my gear in the car and heading there after work or errands. This brings me to the outfit: look good, feel good, and vise versa. Make sure to wear something that’s both comfortable, and makes you feel attractive (TJ Maxx is my go-to store for affordable gym looks). If you work out in the morning, this won’t be as pertinent to you, but ensure that you’re eating adequately and drinking enough water throughout the day. If I don’t eat enough, I find myself feeling drained and cutting corners so I can get home and eat, and resenting my workout for keeping me hungry. I also recommend packing things the night before so you don’t forget something like your water bottle in a rush to get out the door: do everything possible to drive down the possibility of the “I forgot _______” excuse.
- Track your Progress
Whether it be by Fitbit, a fitness app on your phone, a scale, some form of body measurement, trying on old clothes, or just a picture, track it! It can be steps taken, calories burned, weight lost, whatever you feel is important. A great motivator for me is looking at “before” and “during” photos. It can be difficult to notice gradual changes in your physique without measuring weight or looking back at old photos, which is why I chose those two indicators for myself. Of course, it really depends on what your goals are and what drives you personally! Keep in mind: Rome wasn’t built in a day. Be patient with yourself and results will come.
- Reward Yourself
Train yourself with carrots, not sticks. Before exercise and its health benefits in itself starts to feel like a reward, you’ll need to identify it with something positive. I have found that some sort of weekly treat after I have met all my workout goals helps the most, whether that be a Friday coffee or a cute new pair of exercise leggings. Negative reinforcement (such as berating yourself or not eating enough as punishment for not working out) may feel more impactful at first, but is exhausting and eventually may lead to having negative associations with working out in general. On top of weekly rewards, daily mental positive feedback is imperative too: every day working out makes you healthier and brings you closer to your goals, so don’t discount that! Waiting on set goals (such as losing 5 pounds, or going down a pants size) to praise yourself may feel monumental, but may make day-to-day progress feel insignificant. And in my opinion, day-to-day progress is the most important: another day invested in your fitness is another day of not quitting.
I hope these tips have helped! Let us know how they worked for you in the comments, or tag us in your progress pics with the hashtag #tryrootsandall!