I’m writing this post while sat in Bergerac Airport, so apologies for the lack of pretty pictures! I took a few nice shots in France, I’ll upload them once I’ve had a chance to unwind.
This post was inspired from a request to write something ‘for people who hate exercising, both indoors and outdoors’. It is quite difficult for me to suggest what exercises a person should do, as we all have unique bodies with different talents and preferences. Some people may thrive on solo cross country runs, others may love team sports. Although not probably what the person had in mind, the closest satisfactory answer I can give is 10 tips on getting yourself motivated. I truly believe that no one ‘hates’ exercise, we just hate the build up to it and may not have found what is most enjoyable for us. The hardest part is motivation, not the exercises themselves. I can count on one hand the times I’ve regretted a workout, which was usually down to pushing myself when I’ve been ill or too tired. Exercise releases endorphins, you’ll always get a buzz after getting sweaty!
These are tips that I live by, they really help keep me on track.
1. Buy Yourself A Nice Workout Outfit
If you look good, you’ll perform well. There is nothing worse than jumping around in a shapeless t-shirt from 10 years ago, or constantly unpicking the wedgie from your leggings that don’t fit properly. It is horribly demoralising when you feel insecure about your appearance, so make sure you feel confident! A nice pair of trainers or a fresh sports bra can inject real enthusiasm into your workouts. If you feel like a total rock star when you take that bathroom selfie at the gym, your energy levels will be through the roof.
A good gym outfit doesn’t need to be expensive. Before I went to France I bought some absolute killer leggings from H&M which I am dying to try out. I’ve bought out of season Nike and Under Armour tops through Sports Direct in the past, and Forever 21 have a really good range which is dirt cheap. Treat yourself to a nice item that looks good, fits well and doesn’t break the bank. I promise it will brighten your mood, and it will motivate you to workout as you’ll be desperate to give it a test drive.
2. A Good Playlist
I never appreciated the value of a good playlist when exercising until quite recently. I would rarely take headphones to the gym, barely paying attention to the background music. Once I started listening to my own music, I realised how much it was affecting my mood and performance. I was browsing through workout playlists on my phone, and decided to try out ‘Rap Workout’ just for a laugh. Honestly, I loved it. I would never listen to rap music outside of the gym, but I felt like such a badass in the moment that I found myself pushing through reps like I had never done before. It took me to a different place mentally and gave me the motivation I needed. I now listen to playlists with popular club tracks, or if the sun is out it’ll be Tropical House. It’s so hard to resist having a little dance between sets when your favourite track comes on. Exercise shouldn’t be a punishment, find enjoyment in the movements. If you can slut drop in a club, you can squat at home!
3. Find Ways To Negotiate With Yourself
Some of us need a solid reason to exercise instead of curling up on the sofa and binge-watching Netflix series. The long term promise of abs can feel out of reach, and so this is where short-term rewards come into play. When it comes to nutrition, small breaks from your diet plan are good and can be beneficial for many reasons. However, when it comes to exercise and fitness, I would never reward exercise with a cheat meal. It is a well known fact that you can’t outrun a bad diet. It won’t be sustainable to reward yourself with a bag of chips every time you do a tough workout. There are better ways to reward dedication and discipline that support your goals.
For example…. You could strike a deal with yourself that if you stick to your workout calendar for an entire month, once you have completed it you will treat yourself to some wireless headphones. This positive reinforcement will help you stick to your goals, the benefit of your dedication will be tangible, and you’ll now be able to listen to your great playlists with ease! It is such a simple way to motivate yourself. It doesn’t have to be headphones, it can be anything you want, just choose rewards that correlate with and complement your goals.
I’m not suggesting you need to reward yourself every time you do well; exercising will become a habit and you won’t feel the need to negotiate with yourself. But when you have those moments when you really can’t see what the point is, take control and give yourself a reason.
4. Change Scenery
If you are stuck in a rut, change the scenery! Sometimes we can get bored by the same workouts and environment. Take a different running route, enrol in a different spinning class, or even change up how you travel to work by cycling or skateboarding.
5. Utilise Social Media
I could talk for hours about the benefits social media has had on my wellbeing and fitness. Social media gets such bad press for giving people body image issues or triggering disorders, but very rarely does anyone talk about the good it can do. I follow a variety of fitness influencers, PT’s, and vegan chefs/bloggers. Every morning when I scroll through Instagram I am greeted by gorgeous healthy breakfasts, new ideas for my workouts, and inspiring words from people who have had the same struggles as me. I don’t want to see people participating in weird eating competitions that involve inhaling forty burgers in an hour. I want to see content that inspires me everyday and involves me in communities of likeminded people. And not everyone I follow has a perfectly toned physique! Some of my favourites are just real people who have the same ups and downs as their followers.
Unfollow pages that trigger bad habits, and follow inspirational people who motivate you and give you new ideas.
6. Exercise With Others
Be accountable. If you organise to go for a run with a friend, you have the added incentive to stick with it otherwise you’ll be letting someone down if you cancel. Signing up to a class will have a similar effect too: no one wants to be that person who calls at the last minute to cancel a slot, especially if you don’t have a genuine reason. Involving other people in your goals will help you keep going. There have been so many times when I’ve been getting dressed for rugby training while it is pouring with rain, and I feel deflated. A small part of me wants to stay at home, but I go anyway because I don’t want to let my team mates down. Once I’m there I have an amazing time anyway, it is a great tactic for discipline!
7. Take Photos
Take photos of your body: front, side and back.
Whether these photos stay secretly stored on your laptop or get shared online, it really doesn’t matter. What is important is that you track changes. When you see your own body every day, it is very difficult to notice change because it will be gradual. I mentioned in a previous post about tracking calories how you should find different ways to track progress, and this another way to do that. If you’re struggling to see the point in all those squats, you will do once you see how your leg muscles are more defined four weeks later.
8. Get A Notepad: Measure Success and Schedule
Use a fancy app or buy yourself a snazzy notepad, and start writing down your progress. You’ll find pleasure in the process if last week you could hold a plank for 30 seconds and this week you could hold it for 45 seconds. Fitness isn’t just about aesthetic goals, it is about the amazing things your body can do. Be proud of your capabilities! Every time you beat a personal best that notepad will demonstrate why you are doing this.
Not only can you record progress, but you can also set weekly goals. Sit down on a Sunday afternoon with your personal calendar, and schedule in your workouts. Writing it all down is like making a contract with yourself. Don’t just vaguely say ‘I will workout four times this week’. Inevitably sessions will get delayed until the last minute, and when you’ve got that BBQ on Saturday you’ll end up skipping it. Be honest with yourself and set realistic goals: ‘I will workout from home on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday because Wednesday I have dinner plans. I’ll go swimming with my friend early Saturday morning, and I won’t schedule any workouts for the rest of the weekend because I know I’m busy and I won’t make time for it’. Easy!
9. Seize Every Opportunity
Say yes to everything. If your mum invites you to a boot camp class, go. If your sister is part of a sports team, ask to go with her to a session. Sign up to that free yoga class your work colleagues go to. I can’t tell you what type of exercise you’ll like, everyone is different. The only way you’ll figure it out is by trying things, and you might surprise yourself. I never thought I’d go from ballet to rugby, and if I hadn’t taken the opportunity offered by a friend I may never have realised how much I love the sport.
Don’t be embarrassed about being a newbie, people aren’t looking to tear you down. Most of time they are just excited to share their passion.
10. Just Turn Up
Be brave, put your trainers on and walk out the door and the rest will figure itself out. Nobody ‘dislikes’ exercise (the release of endorphins afterwards is always great), we dislike having to push ourselves past that lethargic feeling prior to exercise. You don’t feel crappy when you are doing the workout. You feel crappy when you’re sat at home after a hard day at work, and you’re feeling overwhelmed with stress and exercise seems like the last thing you should be worrying about. Working out gives me such a clear head, if I’m in bad mood it gives me a chance to switch off from everything. Every time you choose to sweat over sitting, it will get easier and easier until you don’t even think about it.
So if you are feeling sulky about putting your gym gear on, have a stern word with yourself and just start. After a few minutes of warming up you’ll have broken through the mental barrier and you’ll wonder why you were ever worrying about it in the first place. The hardest part is making the initial step; be brave and you’ll feel amazing.
I hope these 10 tips have inspired those of you who struggle to exercise, and have given you ideas on how to remain disciplined. Please share and subscribe to my mailing list!