This is the first of several posts on fitness and health, and it’s 6 ways to stay motivated to workout. I’m not an exercise or health coach. I’m not even where I want to be with my body. But I’m getting there, one day at a time, and on this post, I want to tell you what keeps my motivation levels high.
1. It has to be your choice.
For the longest time, I tried a lot of different things – and kept failing – in order to maintain or lose weight. I was really active in high school and then I went to college and it was worse and worse every year, leading up to probably my unhealthiest ever – the internship year. After that came a couple of different jobs and the start of my “adult” life and I was not the healthiest eater. Never went beyond the obesity line, but was certainly close.
It was only about 5-6 years ago, right after I started blogging and started discovering healthy recipes website and all, that I began trying new healthy recipes, and my own healthier takes on my favorite ones. And in the beginning of 2016, I fully dedicated myself to a nutritional change. I’m not vegan, not vegetarian, I eat meat, fish, eggs. But I also don’t eat anything fried (unless there’s no other good option at my job – I have lunch there every day), don’t use butter or olive oil to cook – I use coconut oil instead and only when it’s absolutely irreplaceable, I reduce butter and sugar to the max on every baked good, and so many more changes, that I will be talking about in a future blog post.
In terms of exercise, I’ve always gone on and off with several different programs. Did not stick with one. It was only in October 2015, when a gym opened close to home (my boyfriend owns two gyms but they’re women’s only and we wouldn’t be able to workout together there) and I joined with my boyfriend, that it clicked for me.
With all this, what I want you to know is that you are the one in charge. If you don’t really decide to do it, you won’t. No one can force you to do it, no one can shame to do it. You have to choose.
There’s nothing more powerful that a decided will.
2. Failing to plan is planning to fail.
Benjamin Franklin was completely right. You need to make time on your schedule to work on yourself. Plan your workout time slot, plan your meals – especially the snacks you eat during the day – and plan rest time. A lot of us don’t know how to rest properly, and a good night of sleep, or a couple of hours reading a book, strolling around in the park or grabbing a cup of coffee with friends in the sun, are just as important as work or a workout.
One thing that really helps me is to prepare my gym bag the night before. I usually workout right after work or later in the night (9pm) and I wake up extra early to go to work. I guarantee that I’m not in the mood to prepare my gym bag at 6.30am. Do this – and even bring it to your car the night before – and you’re halfway there.
3. If you’re going to the gym, just go!
If preparing the gym bag is half the work, actually going to the gym – if you’re working out at a facility – is 45% of the rest.
Getting yourself to the gym does something to your mind. If you’re already there, even if you’re not in the mood, will make you at least do something, even if it’s a quick and easy workout. Today was a quick and easy one, tomorrow may be a tougher one. Even after a quick and easy workout, you’ll feel happy for doing it, and it will boost your motivation to work harder the next day.
4. Start slow.
You don’t want to go from being a couch potato to running a marathon, or even going to the gym every day for tough classes or workouts. Like I said on #3, shorter and easier workouts will snowball and boost your morale, but you need to get your body accustomed. One of the things that kept happening to me in the past was that I would start a program, do it on high intensity, and then would have crazy soreness the next day. And I would stop because, who likes pain, right?
Start slow. Maybe 3 times a week. Then up the intensity. And only after that, start going more often.
5. Educate yourself or hire a Personal Trainer
I’m so lucky (in so many ways!) to have my boyfriend, but one of them is that he is my own Personal Trainer. I’ve learned so much with him about health and fitness and he’s the one that explained everything at the gym and told me what I should do. Knowing a bit of something you’re interested in, often leads to wanting to know more and more, so I started reading and searching for a lot of things related to this.
When you’re starting to work out, you’re probably not going to be excellent at it. And there’s a good chance that you’ll do more than you should and end up hurting yourself. In the beginning, I advise you to ask someone for help (i.e. Personal Trainer or a friend that knows more about it than yourself), or at least, search online for good references on exercise. Nowadays there are a lot of great fitness coaches that have Instagram accounts with great workout videos, and they’re often quite accessible if you have questions. It’s only a matter to search in order to take an educated step towards a good workout plan. I will be writing a post on my favorite ones, look out for that in the next couple of weeks.
6. Enjoy yourself and don’t give importance to what you think others are thinking of you
This has to be the most important of the 6.
Yes, it’s a lot of work. Yes, you’ll have a lot of pain in the process. Yes, some days you will feel like you were run over by a truck. But you absolutely need to enjoy the process. Or you won’t keep at it. I can promise you that.
There are probably thousands of different classes, machines, programs, ways to workout. If you don’t like running or if you can’t do high impact exercises, then don’t! You don’t have to do it because the person right next to you at the gym is running a marathon in the treadmill! I don’t even know how many times I was the only one walking while everyone else at the gym was running at a high pace.
Maybe you’ll get where you want to be by doing spinning classes. Maybe by lifting weights. Maybe you won’t even have to add burpees to your routine (I don’t, and I hate them! There’s a lot of alternative exercises!). And that’s okay. Everyone is different and everyone is doing their own thing.
A couple of months ago, I wrote something on my Instagram after having a close encounter at the gym:
To the person at the gym that just mocked my big a$$ water bottle: people like you are the reason why it took me years to enter a gym. My insecurities came from not being happy with my body and the thought that someone could mock me, froze me to the bone. Today, more than a year of being fully commited to being healthier and going to the gym at least 5 times a week, I see you and you’re mocking the bottle I chose to bring. I don’t care and I don’t care about you. But if before I would probably be depleted of energy to even continue my workout, today I stared at you until you felt ashamed enough to leave (he wasn’t close enough to respectfully talk to him without being loud enough to embarass him and the hell I would be stopping the treadmill). People like you don’t belong in the gym. People like should stay at home. Or seek therapy. #strogertoday #dontbeajerk #dontbeanass #proudofmybottle #dontcare #gym #gympower
One of the things that kept me away from the gym for years was what I thought others were thinking of me. It’s not easy to overcome those thoughts. But seriously, we all have issues, we all have problems, we all have insecurities, and no one is better than the other. Keep that in mind whenever you think that someone is looking at your body, or at the way you’re doing an exercise, or at your big a$$ bottle.
I was not easy. But right now, I really don’t care of what others are thinking. Most of the times, I don’t even notice people around me. I use my time at the gym as my escape from the world; it’s ME time. And I have fun. I’ve found myself multiple times singing out loud (thankfully not obnoxiously loud) the music that I’m listening to when I’m running on the treadmill. Because I’m having fun. And why not?
That’s it for today! Hope you enjoyed it and it was useful. Look out for more posts on fitness in the next few days and follow me on Instagram or Facebook if you want to take a peek on my daily updates! 😉
Thank you for staying all the way to the end! You rock! 🙂