Workout Tip #5: Get Motivated!

Motivation…whether it’s to clean our room or mow our lawn, it’s not easy and to be honest, it’s probably not the same for everyone. But, motivation has to be at the root of successful workouts. As I mentioned in a previous post, you can’t even start to exercise if you don’t get to the gym, get off the couch, etc. I know it sounds very mental and working out is supposed to be physical, but inspiration is just as important as perspiration when it comes to losing weight (my apologies to Thomas Edison).

Admittedly, I am to the point now where I am simply motivated as a matter of fact. I don’t say this to brag, but I don’t really think about it; I simply do it. But, it wasn’t always that way. Unless working out has become a life habit, motivation remains an important component. So, here are a few of my suggested motivational tips (note: I’ve not actually used all of these, but figure they’d be good). Today I’m going to discuss more short term tips and next week, I’ll write part two which will detail more long term motivational tips.

Short Term:

Visualize it– Visualize what you want to accomplish at that very moment. If your goal is to go to the gym, then don’t let yourself even consider going home to sit on the couch. Keep focused and see yourself at the gym, on the bike, etc.

Filter out the noise– Life is really busy and it’s easy to think that all the little things pulling at us are more important than working out. Remove the deadlines, the home stress, and everything else from your mind. Exercise (which helps focus anyway) should be a big priority, which means that the little things vying for our daily attentions should not lead us to avoid exercise.

Remind yourself of the immediate benefits– I overheard a guy at the YMCA say how he’s never (except when sick) left the YMCA feeling worse than when he came in. He meant that although it may have been a pain to drag himself in, he always felt better after exercising. I can completely affirm his statement. Remind yourself of the immediate, great feeling that you get when you workout.

More coming next week, so check back!

Workout Tip#3: Just Show Up

Heath Road was the point of no return. If, on my way to the YMCA, I could cross the threshold of Health Road, I knew a solid workout was in my future. Heath Road was important because a left turn followed by a quick right turn onto Wilson Mills Rd. led to my old house. So, after a full day as a high school teacher, the choice was difficult: turn onto Heath and end up on the couch or in front of the computer or keep going to the YMCA. Usually, I just went forward, but occasionally the pull of doing nothing was too much.

The point of this post? Sometimes the most important thing you can do regarding your exercise program is just show up. I’ve never gotten to the YMCA and just left. When I was there, I figured I should workout, even if it wasn’t for a terribly long time. I think that is true for most people. Just getting to the gym to work out is half the battle.

In fact, this is why I prefer to work out at the gym and not at home: because my house has a variety of uses, the gym has one. At home, I’m constantly distracted with other choices and temptations. I don’t always “show up” like I do when I go to the YMCA. There, it’s pretty much working out or nothing. At home, it’s working out or eating or the computer or the TV or the dishes or…you get the point.

To be successful at fitness, you may have to identify the “Heath Roads” in your life. What is keeping you from getting to the gym and working out?

I Like Them, Just Not Enough to…

A co-worker told a story today about a child who assured her mother that she liked brussel sprouts. The mother enthusiastically served them as a side dish at dinner, but noticed they were left on her daughter’s plate as she was clearing the table. She gently asked her daughter, “Didn’t you say you liked brussel sprouts?”

“Yes,” the girl replied, “just not enough to eat them.”

This story made me laugh when he told it this morning and it also got me thinking. While we often say that we value something, how much do we really value it? Enough to change? Enough to live it?

When it comes to health and fitness, it seems too many of us are like the little girl. We really like health, wellness, and fitness, but just not enough to actually embrace them and practice them. Too often health becomes about eating some fad food or trying some fad diet. Wellness becomes about reading a few articles or from a corporate standpoint sending a few token emails. Fitness is reduced to buying a new music player and having the right clothes.

I don’t want to sound too preachy or judgmental. In fact, I’ve been one of the biggest offenders and a pretty big hypocrite. I’ve been “into” health for 15 years (I started at age 15) and could tell you a lot about diet, health, wellness, and fitness. And, oh yeah, it was an important part of my identity. Except, I didn’t practice what I preached. I was the thrice divorced marriage counselor or the environmentalist whose company polluted the rivers. So, while I try to avoid being judgmental, I feel that I need to speak on the topic.

I’m all for concrete ways to change, so here are some suggestions to go from “liking” the brussel sprouts to actually “liking them enough to eat them.”

1. Be food smart- Don’t embrace the latest fad diet, but build eating habits that are sustainable for a lifetime. If a diet seems to good to be true, it is. And ask yourself, “could I do this for the next 50 years?” If the answer is no, you should probably move on.

2. Create a healthy lifestyle- This is related to number one. I always think back to a friend’s dad who lost a lot of weight on a low carb diet and said how happy he was he lost the weight so he could go back to eating normal again. I have a hunch he gained it all back. If you change your lifestyle to one of health and fitness, you’ll be more likely to lose the weight and keep it off.

3. Exercise is for life; learn to love it- My stepdaughter, fatigued by loads of homework, was shocked to learn that you never stop going to school. She thought somehow when you left high school and college it all ended. Too many people take that view with exercise and see it as a temporary unpleasantness to be endured. In reality, it has to be an important part of a healthy lifestyle…for life. That’s why you need to find activities you love or learn to love them.

4. Substance first, style second- Basically, if you look and smell good enough to avoid hitting the showers after a workout, get back to work. You’re not at the gym, the track, the club, etc. to look like a pampered prince or princess. You’re there to lose weight, build muscle, and/or get fit. You should be sweaty and smell at least a little raw. Crank up the intensity at the gym to earn that hot body you can show off nice and clean at a later time.

So, there are a few suggestions to actually live a healthy lifestyle. It takes work, but liking it enough to actually do it is worth it in the end.