I will be the first one to admit it. When I committed myself to losing weight, I swore to myself that I would not exercise. I would cut the calories, eat the nasty health-food, and surrender my twinkies; but you could not convince me to walk out my front door and take a jog around the block. Not happening. I lost weight without it. You bet I lost weight. But then I plateaued. Hard. I could not, for the life of me, get that scale to move a millimeter in my favor. I finally sucked up my pride and went to the stupid spin class. And guess what? The scale started moving again. I was wrong. Without exercise, I wouldn’t have made it to or maintained my goal weight. So, here are the secrets for learning to love working out.
1. Find something you can stand to do
I didn’t say find something you love. Odds are, if you already did love something in the realm of fitness, you wouldn’t be here. So, find something you can tolerate without being miserable. Try new things. Jump on a bike, join a fitness class at your gym, hop in the pool—if it gets your heart rate up, it counts. Once you find the thing that you can do consistently and build upon, stick to it. Find the thing that you will not make excuses for. In fact, find something that you could willingly use as an excuse for something else!
2. Get good equipment
You know those 10-year-old basketball shorts that are a few sizes too small with the cracked elastic band? Not. Good. Enough. No one who feels like they need to squeeze into old gym clothes and hop on a rusty old bike in their garbage in their worn-out sneakers is going to feel great about making time to work out every day. You’re adding a level of misery to an already semi-miserable process for no good reason. Control the things you can control. Invest in yourself. Get some decent shoes, some supportive clothing, and decent equipment. You’ll be amazed at the world of difference it will make in your exercise routine.
3. Don’t rely on anyone else
If your gym buddy calls you up and says they can’t make it to morning spin class and you hit the snooze button, you’ve got some reevaluating to do. Never let anyone else’s schedule determine whether or not you are going to work out. You need to be able to kick yourself in the pants, walk out the door, and get your sweat on without anyone else pulling you off the couch to do so. You made the decision to change your lifestyle. Own up to it. Do the work. Find a way to self-motivate every day if you need to.
4. Schedule it
Have you been telling yourself for years that you will exercise and start eating right when you can get around to it? How has that been working out for you? Probably not great. Hello, that’s why you are here in the first place. You schedule a time to go to work (because you have to), you schedule a time to eat (because you have to), now schedule a time to sweat (because—surprise—you have to). Make yourself accountable by the clock. The faster you can set a schedule for yourself and build a habit, the faster you’ll start to actually look forward to getting your sweat on.
5. Reward yourself
Give yourself something to work toward. Is it a dark, diet, caffeinated beverage? A TV show? Maybe you’re really into your cross-stitching. Whatever it is that you already love and are doing every day—take advantage of it as a source of motivation. Give yourself the ultimatum. “If I go work out right now, I can have [insert your reward here].” Personally, I tell myself every morning that I cannot eat until I exercise for the day. (This is also a great strategy if you are trying intermittent fasting).
6. Set a goal
There are plenty of physical challenges out there that you can work toward and help you in learning to love working out. If you have an Apple watch, check out the monthly challenges on your activity app. The Strava fitness app has even more challenges that you can choose to participate in. Strava also has plenty of running, walking, and cycling challenges that you can choose to join. Don’t be afraid to start small. Your first goals may be as simple as training to do 1 good push up or getting out and walking a mile every day for a month.
7. Measure your progress
Everyone hates before pictures. Tracking your progress is WAY easier than a before picture. On day one, you may only be able to run for 30 seconds before throwing in the towel. Great. You did something. Now, keep working toward your goals and track your progress. You know better than anyone that seeing a noticeable difference when you start your journey can be hard. But you also know that the payout is well worth it. Just like you measure your weight loss progress in pounds, measure your fitness progress in miles, weight, time, and consistency. If you don’t already have an app that will do this for you, grab a notebook and write down your starting point today.
We all have a little bit of competitiveness in us. Channel it into your workouts. Make it a game and compete against yourself and your friends. Peloton, Apple, Strava, Fitocracy, and StepBet are all great apps for competing. If you are always playing, you always have something to lose. Get to the top of your leaderboard and don’t give up until you are there.
9. Make it engaging
Maybe the loud, aggressive, group fitness classes that are your cup of tea. Maybe you just need to jump on your stationary bike and watch your favorite show for an hour. Whether you need a distraction or a cheerleader, make sure your workout is engaging. Keep your mind occupied and your feet moving. Your workout will go by faster if you’re constantly engaged and keeping your mind occupied.
10. Buddy up
As your life is realigned to being healthy and fit, you’ll find that you want to surround yourself with fit and healthy people who are passionate about your sport. Find a local running group on Facebook, a fitness class at your gym, or a cycling group that regularly races together. Fitness is as much social as it is physical. Once you have a friendly face you can count on seeing out on your ride or at the gym, the idea of getting up in the first place becomes less intimidating.
Learning to Love Working Out
At the end of the day, your motivation to work out is going to depend on you being a grown-up. I said it. I bet you can think of 10,000 things you’d rather do than wake up to go to work every day. But why do you do it? Cause you NEED to in order to survive. News flash: your health is just as important as your finances. So, learn to love it. Find the discipline in there somewhere. You’ll be amazed at how fast you will become hooked once you give yourself a fighting chance at learning to love working out.