Exercise is one of the most common subjects related to resolutions, goal-setting, and health maintenance. Like most humans, I too struggle with making time for my daily exercise requirements even when my schedule has plenty of time for it. The hardest part of getting started with exercise routines is taking that first step – just doing it. Along with that Nike phrase that signifies the epitome of grit, grind and elbow-greasing your way to supreme fitness, here are five mantras I have learned to live by in pursuit of a healthier, stronger body, mind and soul.
1. Use Exercise as Your Daily Moment of Zen
Exercise is one of the best natural remedies for stress and clearing your mind. Activities like running and yoga cause your body to increase your breathing rate and focus on that instead of any stressors you have encountered during your day. Yoga also employs use of meditative states, allowing you to focus what is weighing you down that day and clear the negative thoughts out of your mind while replacing them with serenity and relaxing thoughts and emotions.
2. Realize Why You Exercise in the First Place
Most people do not realize that while any exercise can benefit the body, straying from your routine can do more harm than good. In fact, taking more than one rest day off in between exercise days can actually cause your body to revert back to a lower fitness level and lose all of your progress. Additionally, exercise regimens have various health benefits such as preventing diabetes and obesity, and maintaining healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels too.
3. Grin and Bear it
Motivation is one of the hardest things to gain momentum with when you are starting any new routine. If you start out your new routine too strong, it can often lead to “burning out” and you will inevitably fail at your goal of fitness and health. Instead, I have focused on the small things, such as finishing a new work out each day and celebrating after each full week of exercise by gifting myself with a rest day. Often times, setting mini goals helps a lot in the beginning stages of starting anything new because they are more easily and quickly attainable leading to feelings of success and increasing motivation. Grinning and bearing through the annoyance, struggle, or loss of motivation to stick to working out may hurt at the time, but when you reflect on your progress a few months down the road, it will be so worth it!
4. Switch it Up
When people set fitness goals such as “running 6 miles every day on the treadmill,” the goals are often proven hard to stick to. The reason why? THEY ARE BORING! Make sure to switch up your workout routines often enough that you don’t get bored during them to encourage sticking to your work out schedule. Try doing a HIIT cardio routine like Betty Rocker’s HIIT Circuits every other day instead of constantly running on the treadmill – you will save your knees a bit of wear and tear too! Switching up routines consistently doesn’t give your body and muscles any time to get complacent and used to the workouts. New routines keep your body working hard and gaining strength, tone and stamina while holding your interest too. If all else fails, any work out can be jazzed up by switching inside workouts to outside or by adding a pump-up workout playlist to your iPod!
5. Make it a Part of Your Social Routine
One of the easiest ways to motivate yourself to exercise is to do it with friends! Creating workout routines that fit around multiple friends’ schedules makes it easy to motivate each other and hold your friends accountable for each time you plan to get together. Being held accountable by your friends will make you more likely to stick to the routine because – let’s be completely honest – your friends will know if you skip out, and it will probably the hot topic of your next ladies night or lunch date. Easy ways to work out with friends while making time for social lives are through taking classes like Zumba or weight training at local or campus gyms, meeting up for a mid morning walk after dropping off kids at school, or even meet up at a friend’s house and do a group work out along to a fun or quirky work out DVD!
I know that #5 is super easy to get you motivated – I work out daily with my boyfriend along to Tony Horton’s P90 Workout circa the 2000’s and during it we constantly keep the mood light and muscle through the routines by laughing at the terrible music tracks, funny quips Tony says, and the flubs in the filming of each routine. He also keeps me honest when I have rough days, and I return that honesty to him, especially on days when he is exhausted from work and his course-load and could really use the workout time to de-stress instead of just sleeping it off!