Not many people ask me for workout advice. Every so often I’ll get a question or two about running, because that’s what I’m most public about, but beyond that I don’t get much inquiry into my workout routine.
But I have had people ask me the hardest part of getting in shape, and the answer is always the same: motivation.
The physical exertion that comes from good exercise can be a lot when you’re just starting or returning after an absence. But that is normal. The hard part isn’t even the next day, or the day after. No, it seems like people start to lose the motivation after about two or three weeks.
So how do you (I) keep the good habits flowing?
1. Realize that you and only you are responsible for your well-being. You have to eat right; you have to motivate yourself. It can’t hurt to have friends, family or personal trainer giving you words of encouragement, but those people won’t always be there.
I have my own set of goals in mind, and I work hard to achieve them. Daily. I definitely have off-days when I don’t feel like doing anything at all, but my motivation comes from how good I feel the day after the workout: stronger.
2. It only takes a couple of seconds to convince yourself you don’t need to workout today. So on days when I’m possibly skipping a workout, I try to give it about 10 minutes of thought before I decide.
I stand up (because lazy decisions are almost always made when you’re sitting down), I move around a little, I drink some water; anything to get the blood flowing.
3. Keep your goals simple, and keep a checklist (written or mental). You may already know this, but you’re not going to reach all of your fitness goals in two months. Unless you’re under 21 or have amazing genetics.
So try not to do too much at once; start with something simple for about 20 minutes a day. You can easily build up more once you have a baseline to start with.
4. Understand the difference between feeling tired and being lazy. There is a difference. Some days I’m super motivated to workout, but then by the end of the day I have realized it just isn’t happening. Your body needs rest, and if you don’t rest then your body can’t repair.
5. Pick up an exercise that you can commit to daily. Personally, I like skipping rope. It’s easy and inexpensive, and I don’t need much but an area large enough to swing the rope.
Try to exercise by time, not repetition. I can do 100 jumping jacks, but that doesn’t take me more than two minutes. I try to at least do 10 minutes or more each day.
In 2014, you can improve your fitness. You could spend $50 a month on a gym (and that’s fine, if you go), but you can get the same results from a $5 jump rope, push-ups and a lot of motivation.