Rediscover What Matters
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It happens to all of us: you stumble home from work tired and hungry with little on your mind besides binge-watching the latest season of a favorite series. Maybe you don’t want to fight traffic. Or you’re discouraged because you don't see dramatic results. How do you find the resolve to keep hitting the gym? The key is to adopt fresh strategies that will help you become, and stay, more motivated.
Don’t walk into the gym and attempt to tackle every machine, work every muscle, and join every class. Give yourself permission to build a few simple routines that you can accomplish in an hour. Work alternate muscles to maximize efficiency, and don’t forget to blast some cardio.
Sticking with a consistent time of the day can increase your chances of getting to the gym. Many people find it easier to exercise first thing, before work and family demands take hold. Others prefer to use their workouts to wind down and transition at the end of the day. Find out what works best for you, and stick with it.
Big-wave surfing legend Laird Hamilton summed it up nicely: “Make sure your worst enemy doesn’t live between your own two ears.” Turn off the negative voices in your head that make you feel like quitting. They have nothing to contribute and can hold you back from achieving your goals. Use Pinterest, Instagram, and other resources to post inspirational quotes, photographs, and notes to yourself. If you dream about cycling Ireland’s Ring of Kerry, use videos and other visual tools to amp up your time on the stationary bike.
Research shows that working out with a supportive partner can help you stay motivated. It doesn’t need to be a close friend or loved one, just someone with whom you enjoy exercising and whose health commitment is strong. If you prefer group support, consider joining a yoga class or group training with others on a set schedule.
For most of us, the gym experience isn’t about developing a fitness model’s hard body; it’s about feeling healthier and gaining physical confidence. Notice how much better you feel after working out. How you can dash up two flights of stairs or chase your kids around without getting winded. Exercise can deliver the benefits of improved sleep, reduced health risks, and mood elevation. Pat yourself on the back each time you make the effort.
Try not to follow the same routine for each gym visit. Not only will you become bored, but when you only work certain muscle groups, others may be ignored. A variety of activities is challenging, inspiring, and fun. If the treadmill feels tedious, take it up a notch with a SPARC class or kickboxing. When the weather beckons, take your workout to the park and try biking, jogging, or swimming for a change of pace.
Struggling to get through your workout? Think about the steamy shower that awaits your muscles when you’re finished, or the new running shoes you bought for training. Don’t make the mistake of using rich foods as a reward, but do consider treating yourself to an indulgent post-workout massage or the latest fitness tracker
If you feel frustrated and disappointed that you’re not exercising as much as you’d like, or angry that you’re not seeing changes in your body, take a deep breath. Yes, ideally you’ll hit the gym every other day, for at least an hour. But if you cannot maintain that schedule, don’t beat yourself up. Go when you can. Lace up your sneakers and take a walk. Do sit-ups while you watch TV at home. Don’t give up. Something is better than nothing.
You may feel lethargic before working out, but afterward, you’ll feel energized (thank you, endorphins). After all, the term “motivation” comes from the Latin word “movere,” meaning “to move.”