Ah, yes. Exercise. I know that many people feel the same as me: it’s hard.
I am not a fitness enthusiast, working out does not spark joy, exercise has always been a struggle for me. Most of the time, it feels like a necessary means to an end.
However, I believe that there are ways to make working out suck less. Tips and tricks and hacks to make things a little better.
Here are my methods! We do what we can with what we’ve got.
Do what you like. Experiment with different styles of exercise and find a good fit! If you hate running, don’t! There are so many ways to move your body, from treadmill walking to yoga to weight lifting to YouTube videos to Tabata.
Do it when you like. If you’re a person who can’t function properly in the morning and dreads AM workouts, don’t try to force yourself! It can result in half-assing and injuries. Accommodate your needs, schedule something in the evening or afternoon. Listen to your body and adjust.
Wear what you like. Some people find it really helpful to pick out a cute outfit and look put-together. Me, on the other hand, wants to be as comfortable as possible. There’s no wrong answer! I just recommend setting out what you want to wear ahead of time, so that it’s as easy as possible to get changed and ready to go.
Keep track. I record all of my workouts afterwards in a calendar with stickers. This is an excellent way to visualize, and is especially cool to review at the end of the year. 🙂
Something is better than nothing. The most important thing for me to keep in mind: 50% is better than 0%. We are not always feeling it or pushing ourselves or even want to do anything at all. But just doing something—the bare minimum—is better than nothing. A little bit goes a long way.
Dedication > Motivation. No one is motivated all the time. Dedication and discipline, however, are the tools to keep going even when working out is the very last thing you want to do in the world.
Reframe. I’m obviously horrible at this, but it’s usually helpful to reframe exercise in a more positive narrative. Think of it as moving your body or doing yourself a favor, rather than a horrible chore with rooted in patriarchal values. Re-think: it’s a kindness for you.
Create a challenge
I’m a challenge person. (Well, most of the time I’m a challenge quitter, LOL.) A lot of people are similar, who thrive in an environment with a to-do list, goals, and a clear end in sight. Some people also really gravitate toward competition. For me, having at least one other person around for accountability is huge.
I’ve been doing a hodgepodge 75 Medium challenge, first with my husband. Now, my parents have gotten involved with their own version. Make your own or join in! You never know—sometimes a challenge push is what you need.
Take a class
I’m someone who prefers to be tricked into exercising. I’m convinced that I fell out of fitness post-school because I no longer had the sports teams that literally dominated my life (and my heart rate) since my toddler years.
Fitness classes are a work-around. You still know you’re working out, but it’s usually designed to be fun. I absolutely love dance classes. Zumba is fun, and I hear spin is a torture that people seem to enjoy. Yoga is so good for you, along with Pilates. If I had a recreation center close, I’d 100000% be a member.
Adult dance classes are harder to find in my rural area, but when they spring up I pounce! I even asked my community center to see if there were other women who were interested in tap classes and there are; now a class is coming in January! So I guess, don’t be afraid to shoot your shot too.
Similarly, there can be opportunities to play on adult sports teams. I love this option. Once Chad and I played on a once-weekly coed volleyball team and it was ridiculous, fun, and an epic workout. I’m still looking for a softball team. 🙂
As a new treadmill person, I’ve had to really dig deep to discover what works best to make long walks more bearable—especially transitioning from outdoor walks where things are pretty visually exciting (thanks Colorado!) to the bleak interior of my messy garage.
- Don’t look at the clock
- Take a water/bathroom break in the other room when you’re over half-way done
- Listen to something! Fun cardio music, a new album (I’ve jammed to both Taylor’s Red and Adele’s 30), a podcast (The Garcia Diaries is my ride-or-die, of course), or an audio book (I speed up the tempo a little bit and it’s great!)
- If you’re going for a slower walk, you can physically read a book or magazine. I did this for 90 minutes straight and it barely felt like any time passed, though I read a great chunk in my book. (I kept the speed at 1.5. Not fast, but steps are steps and movement is movement! That adds up over 90 minutes.)
- Don’t be afraid to scroll. I like to do massive time-wasters, like stories on Instagram, Twitter, Like to Know It, or online window shopping. I like that when I work out and scroll, I’m less interested in my feeds later and prefer to read or be more engaged in other activities.
- Split up your time with aids/distractions. You don’t have to only listen to music or only an audio book. I like to mix and match and go with what feels right. A few minutes of this, a few of that.