But this is deceiving. Just last week, I was talking to a friend and he made a comment about me "working out all the time." And I'm thinking, "If you only knew...."
Because the truth is, right now, I only exercise an average of 3 days a week. Sometimes it's twice. And occasionally it's only once. Part of that is my health limitations. With major hormonal imbalances and adrenal dysfunction, I have to be careful about doing too much. This is frustrating as hell, but I have to listen to my body in order to heal.
Another reason for this abbreviated workout schedule is my recent move from Austin to Dallas and a trip to LA for the Radiance Retreat. Those kind of things take a lot out of me, and it takes a while to get into a regular routine again. And then there's my work --- there's always something to do: blogs, emails, workouts, client programs, sales pages, launch planning, filming workouts for my Sweat & Strength Club, coaching, admin tasks.... I love it, but it's overwhelming at times.
And this is all fine. I don't have to work out every single day to be fit. I don't have to completely wreck myself at the gym, lying in a puddle of sweat at the end. And this is what I want to emphasize to people. It doesn't have to be all-or-nothing. Don't let this misconception keep you from getting started or keeping a healthy lifestyle going.
It doesn't have to miserable.
It doesn't have to last for hours.
Even if you've failed to stick with a workout plan many times before, you can still turn things around with these tips and actually become someone who works out.
1. Make It Fun or Gameify It.
* Grab a calendar (or print one out online) and mark each day you fit in movement (a strength workout, a walk, cardio, getting in X number of total steps, a class, even housework or yardwork, etc.) with a check mark or X. Try to create a streak of consecutive days with a reward for hitting certain milestones.
* Buy cute workout clothing. Look good, feel good, do good! I can't be the only one who gets so excited to wear a new pair of capris or a tank that I just have to go to the gym right away! ;-) Plus, if you buy stuff that actually fits you well versus wearing a baggy t-shirt and shorts, you'll feel more comfortable in general.
* Experiment with new toys ̶ Valslides, a TRX suspension trainer, kettlebells, superbands, barbells, sandbags.
* Pretend you're being chased by zombies with the Zombies, Run! app. Or add up all of your miles of walking, running, or biking as you go and pretend that you're making your way to a specific location, like from one end of your state to the other or from your house to the beach or lake.
Check out my blog post on spicing up your workouts here.
2. Plan and Schedule It.
One mistake that we all tend to make is allowing our days to become consumed with the minutia of life --- all the errands, kids' activities, television, social media, work obligations, shopping, commutes, and whatnot. Of course this is going to crowd out the things that we leave off our schedule. There will always be a reason to put it off, and then, before you know it, it's 9pm and time to wind down for the day. And if we dread our workouts for whatever reason, all the more reason to procrastinate.
So plan your workouts for the week with specific days and times. And know ahead of time of what you're going to do when you get to the gym. The more efficient your workout (versus just wandering around from machine to machine and wasting time) the easier it'll be to fit it in. And it'll be one less excuse to skip it if you know that you'll be in and out in 20 minutes (or whatever).
Be realistic when planning, though. If you haven't worked out in a while, start with 2-3 times a week. Anything more can be a bonus. If you expect yourself to exercise 6 days a week, and you find yourself "only" fitting in 3 most weeks, it's easy to feel like a failure. But if you plan for 3 workouts and hit it on the nose, that feels like a win. And wins build momentum to keep going.
Check out my blog post on motivation here to read more.
3. Do Something You Actually Enjoy.
Way too many people spend way too much time doing things they hate for the sake of results. And as a result, they burn out or quit altogether. Because hating what you do is just not sustainable. Past experiences also shape how we view exercise. And if every time we "fall off the wagon," our only memories of exercise are pain, intense soreness, and loathing, is it any wonder that we struggle every time?
There are so many modes of exercise available that there's no reason why exercise has to suck. We've got weights, running, walking, cycling, swimming, dancing, kickboxing, yoga, hiking, rock climbing, martial arts, gymnastics, pilates, barre, Spartan training, golfing, sports, and on and on....
You can also join an adult sports league --- soccer, kickball, volleyball, basketball, softball, and more. Or have a dance party in your living room. Or pretend you're on American Ninja Warrior and play around on a playground (monkey bars, anyone?).
4. Recruit a Workout Buddy.
Choose one or more people you can depend on to show up for workouts and drag your ass out of bed or off of the couch and get to the gym on a regular basis.
No one in your immediate circle who works out? Look on Meetup.com for a fitness group and meet new, like-minded people.
Make fitness a social affair. Go for a hike with friends or your furbaby. Get your coffee to go and take walk with friends. Be adventurous and take gymnastics or pole-dancing classes. Set up a Skype date with a far-off friend and workout "together."
5. Think "Be-Do-Have," Not "Have-Do-Be."
We so often think that in order to be something (a person who works out), we have to first have something (motivation) to do something (take action). The truth is that we need to first be something (or at least, act as if) in order to do something (take action!), and then to have something (a fit body and motivation).
The most effective way to change our bodies is to change our minds first.
The "Act As If" tool is one that I personally use both on myself and with clients is simple, but it's not always easy to carry out. But it’s the act of practicing that brings success. Getting the reps in, so to speak.
This means to act as if we are already the future us we envision. We are that lean, fit person who likes to eat salads and lean protein. We are that strong, confident woman in the gym who’s got her shit together. We are that accomplished (fill in the blank) that kicks ass.
Not just think like that person, but make the same kind of choices. Work through problems with the same mindset and tactics. Continually learn and grow and improve. The "Act As If" tool jolts us out of our long-held habits and ways of thinking to get us to examine our actions in real time instead of just reacting as we always do and getting the same result (ie spinning our wheels).
Check out my blog post on the 5 habits of people who get results here.