Many thanks to Amy, of Feasibly Fit Mom for today’s guest post! She is a certified personal trainer and fitness boot camp owner and her blog features workouts, news, recipes and tips for motherhood and beyond. Be sure to click over and visit!
Some days we bounce out of bed, ready to attack the track, work the weights and kill the kettlebells. And then there are the days that we struggle to find time, energy or motivation to get the dog out for a walk or make it to our favorite yoga class.
Here are some tips passed along to me by my clients or I’ve found useful. Remember, it takes just one of these to get you movin’ on any given day! Whatever works, right?
1. Change into your workout clothes.
Change into your your running tights, sports bra, yoga pants…whatever. If you exercise first thing in the morning, set out your clothes the night before. Wake up, get dressed and brush your teeth.
Conversely, if you work out during the day or after work, set out or pack your clothes. Change into them about a half hour before you are going to exercise. I do not wear workout clothes as my “street clothes” because changing into my workout clothes creates an association: “I am going to work out.” The act of putting on a pair of comfy pants is an easy first step towards the treadmill.
2. Schedule it into your day
We’re all busy, right? And you’ve heard it before: If it’s important, schedule it into your day. You probably mentally review the day ahead each evening, so go ahead and jot it down. Not just exercise, but what type of exercise. (E.g. 30 min. upper body circuit, or 20 min. HIIT, or 90 min. Vinyasa yoga class).
Ideally, you’ll narrow it down to the hour that you’ll start. Or, in my case, I tie it to an activity I know will happen: nap time, my husband coming home, my mom coming over to babysit. Sure, the cleaning or blogging or my nap may not happen, but “Today, I am opting for exercise…” as Workout Mommy declared in my favorite post of hers.
3. Don’t schedule it into your day
Wait, isn’t that the opposite of the tip above? Yes, and sometimes our schedules look too jam-packed to even consider a workout. But things fall-through, friends stop by, soccer practice gets canceled or our husbands bring home takeout for dinner.
Take advantage of this window of time and squeeze in whatever you can. Accumulate your exercise throughout the day this way. Several minutes of focus are worth more than a distracted workout, any day. Have a go-to list of exercises or DVD for these times. I keep a schedule of our gym’s and local yoga studios’ class schedules with me for this reason.
4. Focus on and plan each second of your workout
When you do have those nuggets of time, make sure those minutes really are “your time.” It isn’t found time if you’re attempting to clean, answer email or read to your kids. If you focus, a 20 minute cardio stint or lower body workout is plenty to feel the burn.
With your go-to exercises, plan each second of the workout: Rests, water breaks and transitions. With these quick workouts, try to group your standing exercises all together, group the ones with weights or resistance bands (or any equipment) and do all your floor work at the same time.
5. Do it for “just 5 minutes”
Similar to the tip on getting dressed in workout clothes, this one is a mental game. As you know, lots of times we just have to get started to build momentum. This goes for cardio workouts as well as strength training. If you’re not in the mood to workout, tell yourself you’ll do it just for five minutes so you can say you tried.
This also works for days that you’re feeling sore or are recovering from injury. Obviously if it hurts, stop immediately, but sometimes sore muscles feel better after some movement; so do knees, hips and ankles. If it’s boredom you’re fighting, check out these 5 minute workouts I put together.
6. Focus on internal motivators
We all have reasons we exercise, many of these are external, but some come from inside us and get to who we are. Some reasons we might exercise are to: feel healthy, take care of our bodies, feel sexy, keep depression at bay, feel empowered, feel stronger. Try to focus on the positive internal motivators: Saying “If I don’t exercise today, I’ll feel fat and unhappy” certainly doesn’t feel good. Try to re-frame it: “When I finish exercising, I’ll have succeeded and will feel so strong!”
While focusing on internal motivations is “taking the high road,” I personally don’t think it’s realistic to be internally motivated all the time, with anything. It should be the foundation of why we exercise, eat healthy and treat ourselves with respect, but sometimes it’s about the skinny jeans, no?
7. Focus on external motivators
This is the reason we are led to believe we exercise: The skinny jeans, the bathing suit, the class reunion, the triathlon, the figure competition. Even health-related reasons like the cholesterol test, blood sugar levels and heart disease risks are external motivators. Again, nothing wrong with these, but to be focused solely on these reasons for exercise can set us up for disappointment. We may not always reach the goals we set when we think we should.
However, it can be a great boost of confidence the first time we wear a smaller size, place in a 5k or get a compliment on our toned arms. When we do experience disappointment in one of these areas, it’s important to have a support network we can lean on.
8. Phone a friend
In addition to encouraging us by noticing the results of our exercise and healthy eating efforts, friends can also be great help by providing us a “kick in the pants” when we need it. Maybe you’ve been complaining that nothing fits, you don’t have time to workout or so-and-so looks so good because they can afford a personal trainer and you can’t. Um, those are excuses, and a good friend will call you on it.
A good friend can also be your workout buddy or accountability partner. Some of my best friends have started out as gym buddies, hiking friends or yoga practice partners. Even if you like to workout alone, having someone who asks about your workouts or you can call to help motivate you, is another way to be sure you’ll exercise today.
Above all, have fun and get out there and do it! What are your favorite ways to motivate?
Amy Sullivan, www.feasiblyfitmom.com
(Photo credit: kevindooley)