Part 1: Workout Motivation, Tips, & Tricks

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NOTE: Once I start writing, the words just keep coming. I don’t usually talk much in person–I’m better at listening–so perhaps that’s why I have so many extra words swirling around in my head and ready to spill out onto the page (or keyboard). With that said, I’ve decided to break this post into four parts that will be easier to digest and keep you moving 😉

PART ONE: Getting Motivated (this post)
PART TWO: Home Workouts and Equipment
PART THREE: Reasons to Choose a Gym
PART FOUR: Get Moving

PART ONE: Getting Motivated

Up until a year ago, I’ve been dragging myself out of bed before the sun rises (somewhere between 4:00 a.m. and 5:30 a.m.) since 1999 to do an early-morning workout. You’d think that after that much time, getting up would be easy…it’s not; at least not for me. Actually, it’s gotten harder. Quite often you’ll hear people saying that it takes only 21 days to build a habit, well 19 years later, I’m still fighting this one. To the outside world, it may look like I have no trouble being motivated since I’ve been dedicated to fitness for so many years and have made it an important part of my life, but I still struggle. So, today I’m sharing some of the tips, tricks, and workouts that have helped me to stay fit and exercise consistently for almost 20 years.

Morning vs. Evening
You’ll find arguments for both sides when trying to determine which one is better. The more important thing here is to choose whichever one fits into your schedule and is something you can stick to. I find that the trouble with early-morning workouts, is the older I get, the more I love my bed! But the trouble with evening workouts, is that at the end of a long day, all I want to do is go home and relax. Unfortunately, most of us are limited to those two times if we want to make fitness a part of our lives (unless you’re a personal trainer, have enough time during lunch, or have a flexible office schedule). So, before we go further, think about what time of day you can commit to and then schedule it.

If you decide mornings are better, here are some things I’ve found helpful for getting out of bed and getting motivated for morning workouts:

  • Wear your workout clothes to bed (clean ones!)–when you wake up already dressed, you’ve got one less argument to use to convince yourself to stay in bed (if you don’t wear them to bed, at least lay them out so that in the morning you don’t have to decide on what to wear and create another opportunity for talking yourself out of it).
  • Don’t even allow yourself to start the stay-in-bed monologue in your head…get up before you have time to think.
  • Make plans to workout with a friend–you have to be more accountable when someone is waiting for you.
  • Make your first activity easy and think about that (i.e. just 5 minutes of rebounding or yoga is easy to think about and look forward to; a nice start to the day to get the blood flowing, move the body, and awaken your senses)…then build on that.
  • Don’t workout at home (unless you don’t have trouble being motivated in the morning; driving a few minutes in the car will give you time to wake up and being in the right gym environment will put you in the right frame of mind).
  • Pack your gym bag the night before so that in the morning, all you have to do is get out of bed and grab your bag (because you’re already dressed if you used the first tip!).
  • Shift your mindset to focus on how good you will feel when you’ve accomplished your workout and set your day on the right path.

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If you think after work is your ideal time to hit the gym or fit exercise into your day, here’s what’s helped me for staying motivated for evening workouts:

  • Change at work and go straight to a class or the gym–just eliminate the temptation of changing from work clothes to loungewear by not going home before working out.
  • If you do go home first, change immediately! Then either get started with your home workout or drive to the gym.
  • Attend a group fitness class–put it on the schedule and commit to it.
  • Create a dedicated space that is set up to be motivating if you’ll be working out at home after work–don’t put the treadmill right next to the bed!
    Note: I know I said don’t workout at home in the morning, but if you have to, this tip is also critical for staying motivated for your morning home workouts.
  • Choose something fun–workouts do not have to be miserable; the most important thing is to just move your body! If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it…so move around, bend, stretch, flex, play a sport, join a class, flip tires, jump on a trampoline–just find something that you enjoy and do that.
  • Break your workout up into sections–when I get home after a long day, I often don’t want to workout. So, I’ll focus on just getting starting…I’ll think about 10 minutes on the rebounder, which sounds like I can knock it out quick and see how I feel. Once I’m started, I’ll think about the next section, 10 minutes of total body movements (burpees, squat jumps, pushups, etc.). And once again, I can feel like those 10 minutes will be easy to just keep going and knock out. Finally, I’ll think about 10 minutes of stretching…easy after everything else I’ve done. Then, when it’s all over, it’s been a good 30 minute workout session that I’m satisfied with.

Schedule it!
One of the challenges I’ve found to working out is trying to balance and juggle everything I need and want to do in my day. For example, as my Crohn’s has progressed and I’ve learned to listen to my body more, I find that I’m less-stressed and calmer throughout the day if I have an hour in the morning to work on something I’m truly passionate about (you might be thinking workout here…but actually, my passion is writing). So if I spend my morning drinking coffee and writing, I must get my workout in after work. I find that if I actually schedule both those things on the calendar and view them as appointments I can’t miss, then it’s easier to stick with. If it’s important to you, put it on the calendar.

Don’t feel like it has to be all or nothing. You don’t have go from not working out to working out five days per week for one hour a day…just start with one day or two and build up from that.
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How many years have you been dedicated to making fitness a part of your everyday life?

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