Like many other females on this planet, I tend to waver along a fine line with my desire to have the most perfectly fit and toned body and my desire to eat an entire pizza to my face. It’s a confusing emotion because whilst food is delicious and wonderful and I can quite literally discuss my top 3 favorite cheeses (goat, cheddar, mozz FTW) with anyone who is willing to partake, I also really do enjoy the feeling of a great workout and how I feel when I’m being super on top of everything in the food and gym department.
One of the hardest adjustments for me when I first started working after college was finding the time/motivation/both to haul ass to the gym (as previously discussed here). Realistically my ideal night after work would include a bangin’ dinner and binge watching a new show lying horizontally on my couch, but I also knew that there was just no way around NOT working out. I had to somehow make it happen, and eventually I thought of and executed several VERY simple hacks that got me into a regular routine. I will say that this is a bit more feminine of a list, but guys can definitely adopt some if not all of the below.
1. Using Pinterest
Pinterest really helped me find some visual motivation for working out.
On my way home from work, I would peruse the health/fitness boards for some actual fitspiration and workouts to try on my own. I made this a secret board so that everyone who follows me won’t have to deal with thousands of different health and fitness pins – that’s just annoying. Nevertheless, one of the hardest parts of working out is that you get to the gym and then have NO clue what to do.
Pinterest has been a great tool for me to not only discover new workouts but also to keep my mind on track for when I got home so that I actually made it to the gym. After a solid hour of pinning workouts, informational pieces about cardio and tips on what to eat before/after working out I was actually mildly excited about the gym. By mildly excited, I mean not completely dreading it… but you get the point. Eventually I was able to build various workout routines for different parts of the body and not walk into the gym looking like a deer in headlights.
2. Music Selection
Music is a fundamental part of your workout. It can really make or break it that hour.
True story: Upon arriving at the gym only to discover that I had forgotten headphones, I have turned around and went back home to get them. Everyone has their own taste in music and their own preference for what they listen to while working out but I found that EDM really took my workouts (especially runs) to the next level. I’m a huge dance music person, and I know it’s not for everyone but hear me out. On iTunes you can download FREE PODCASTS that are hour long mixes from world famous DJs. Once I started listening to the podcasts at the gym I never had to skip a song on a playlist ever again or update my workout playlist EVER AGAIN. It was great – the music was just there, and every song was a surprise because I didn’t choose the songs. These podcasts are usually radio shows from Sirius XM/Electric Area and BPM. Plus, dance music/EDM/house/whatever you want to call it is great because it’s HIGH ENERGY and really can push you without realizing it.
It is music that makes you want to move, and I highly recommend it.
My personal recommendations for iTunes podcast subscriptions are: Hardwell on Air, Tiesto’s Club Life, Sander van Dorn Identity and Nicky Romero’s Protocol Radio. They are updated weekly and I’ll mention again that they are FREE.
3. Frequently changing up your workout
Frequently changing it up will help you not get bored of your workouts.
When you get bored of doing the same thing not only does your body get used to it and it not work as hard but you are more likely to skip out, or at least I was. This is where planning your workouts ahead comes in handy – if you usually run on the treadmill, walk on a 15 incline at 2.0 or jump on the bike for 30 minutes.
If you usually do squats and lunges try deadlifting or using the leg press. You need to keep your body challenged and not rest on your laurels when it comes to working out… or else before you know it 6 months have gone by and you don’t even remember the name of your gym. If you do the same exact thing all the time and it works for you, by all means continue. I’m just making a simple suggestion.
4. Commit to a minimum and maximum amount of days
This is a big one that REALLY got me into the swing of things and helped me make the “am I working out tonight?” into the “when I am working out tonight”.
I said to myself: “Self, you are going to TRY to get to the gym 5 out of these 7 days a week but minimally you will work out AT LEAST 3 days.” Shockingly this system worked.
It helped me stop being disappointed in myself for not going to the gym EVERY SINGLE DAY (which is kind of unrealistic anyway) and also managed to make me average at about 4 days a week. Four days a week is GREAT. It’s healthy and it’s not obsessive.
If I had a busy week, I was satisfied with 3 days. Most experts will say that you should get at least 3 days of physical activity so I didn’t feel any guilt whatsoever in not exceeding that sometimes, and feeling guilty about not working out really never actually motivated me… it just made me feel bad about it. If it was a great week where I had a lot of time and energy to make it 5 days, that was awesome too. Eventually I really didn’t even need to tell myself the min./max. thing because I just got used to it. I swear this really worked!!
5. Find a workout partner that is basically on your level
I used to work out with my friend Bianca who was the MOST AMAZING workout buddy because she was all business, no talking, hardcore and we both were at pretty much the same level of lifting and she taught me a ton of new things. Bianca is now a full-time nurse who works obscene hours and is a saint to this earth so we can no longer work out that much together which is kind of upsetting.
I didn’t think I was ever going to find a workout buddy that could fill the void that Bianca left me but LO AND BEHOLD I did. I’m looking at you Libby! This time around I was the one showing Libby all the moves at the gym and it was great because it made me do everything with much more care and precision. Also, Libby is one of the greatest people on this earth and a pleasure to spend an hour/hour and a half with. We balance each other out perfectly because she brings me back down to earth when I want to go full-on Jillian Michaels and I make her do one more set at a higher weight. Sometimes she throws weights at me but really it’s been a great workout partnership.
Here’s a mini sub-list to finding a great workout buddy:
- Make sure you go to the same gym. I have A LOT of friends who I love working out with but it’s honestly annoying when you have to alternate between gyms because nobody actually wants to do that and most likely nobody actually will.
- Make sure your schedules are somewhat cohesive so that you can make it to the gym together at least 2 days a week.
- Make sure you have similar goals – if you have a friend who’s training for a bodybuilding competition and you’re training for a half marathon you’re not going to really be doing much of the same workouts or even really be there for the same amount of time.
6. Convince yourself you actually like working out until it becomes true
This one is particularly important.
You know how it’s scientifically proven that if you smile your mood elevates? Or have you ever heard of the saying “Fake it till you make it”? This falls along those lines… if you tell yourself consistently that you HATE working out, you’re going to really just continue to hate working out. BUT if you pretend that you LIKE working out and continually tell yourself that you do, you will eventually be able to tolerate it enough to make it a regular part of your routine and maybe actually kind of like it.
Some people are just lucky and genuinely enjoy it but if you’re like me and you would much rather eat 5 loaves of the multigrain bread slathered with butter at The Cheesecake Factory rather than put on the sneakers and haul ass to the gym… then try pretending you like working out until it actually happens.