I would rather sit through an episode of Teletubbies than do a workout. My exercise is clumsy, painful, sweaty, and one more thing I have to do in a day that is already too full of responsibilities.
Despite all of these drawbacks, I exercise five days a week, including yoga workouts, and have done so since I was in my mid-20s.
I am a bookworm, a writer, a musician, a daughter, a wife, but I am not an athlete. In fact, if you took a good look at me, you might think I work out five times a month if I’m lucky. In other words, since I am the last person you might pick to have exercise experience, the things that have let me keep up my exercise may just be useful to a wide variety of people who find exercise as challenging as I do.
Here are 5 motivations I’ve used to make exercise work for me:
1. Stick to a Schedule
I schedule time for my exercise, just like I schedule a doctor’s or hair appointment. Whenever I am starting a new kind of exercise, I try to make this schedule as unbreakable as possible. This commitment helps to eventually make the exercise a habit, and habits are much easier to keep than burdens. Once I have the habit of my exercise established, I allow myself to be more flexible about my exercise schedule, but I maintain as much consistency as possible.
2. Create variety
I strive for variety in exercise. Sometimes, I walk on the treadmill. Other times, I use the elliptical machine. Still other days, I create my own exercise using an app called “Sworkit” or do an exercise video. I also do yoga at a local center. Besides working different muscle groups, mixing things up helps me stay just interested enough in what I am doing to keep it up.
3. Promote Discipline
I view my exercise as a commitment to me. Because I know I need to do my exercise, I discipline myself to keep doing it. Sometimes, that discipline is the only thing that keeps me doing my exercise. If I waffle, I remind myself of the benefits to me exercise has. These benefits include stress-reduction, as well as weight management and muscle development.
4. Ditch Perfectionism
I don’t expect to be an athlete. I have never been good at sports, so approaching my exercise knowing my best is not great takes the pressure off me. I am not trying to be the best runner in the gym or the most flexible person in yoga class. By making my exercise something I do only for me, the only competition I have is with myself, and that is much less pressure than trying to be the best athlete in the gym. Perfectionism has no place in any exercise program I have a chance to keep up.
5. Have a Reward System
The reward system also helps me keep exercising when I would rather give up. Whether I allow myself to eat my favorite food or spend time with a good book because I did my exercise, the occasional reward also helps me keep my interest in exercising. Of course, my biggest reward is better health and less stress!
For those of you who would put exercise at the bottom of any to-do list, I hope these tips from my own experiences are of some help.
Now, it’s your turn. What works for you when it comes to exercising and keeping it up?