Deborah asked me what I might say about tricks and motivations for exercising. I thought it was a neat thing to consider, so here’s what I have.
#1: Tie your shoes. This is a flat out theft from Matthew McConaughey’s recent article in Men’s Health. The notion is simple. Just make that first step towards doing the workout and getting out there. I take it a step further. Because I work out very early in the morning, I do my prep before going to bed. I throw my gym clothes, my towel, and my iPod in my bag, and put the bag by the door. I set the alarm (because I can’t naturally wake at 4:30AM). Getting my stuff together means I’m one step closer to hitting the gym.
(Tracy hates this guy). This image used without permission of Men’s Health magazine. I’m just trying to point people to an article I liked, dammit.
#2: Buy a pedometer. If you’re not running regularly (or cycling, or something with some serious distance and calorie burning involved), a really sneaky great motivational trick is to buy a pedometer and live your life such that you get 10000 steps a day from walking. Why? Because if you do that religiously every day for 10 weeks, and with a decent diet and caloric intake level, you shed 10% of your bodyfat without any other effort. Seeing that 10,000 number on my pedometer is a great trick to keep me moving.
#3: Write it down. Okay, you don’t have to buy a special book to write down your workouts in, but even if you take a notebook, throw dates down, and throw down what you plan to do for a given week, it is a STRONG motivator. Seeing a plan motivates you to attempt to execute the plan. Missing on your plan is a negative (but effective) reinforcement to remind you what you’re shooting at, accomplishment-wise. The key here is to plan realistically. If you are a couch captain, and you’re saying, “I’m going to write in here that I’ll work out seven days a week for two hours a day, and that I’m going to go from bench pressing two gallons of milk at a time to benching 500 before the end of the month,” well guess what? You’re going to fail. Start medium, and build up.
#4: Make it Fun. This should be so obvious, but it’s not. You kinda have ta WANT to do the exercise. Right? I know that sounds stupid. Especially to people just starting out with central motivations that might be different than wanting to be fit and healthy. (Let me sidebar myself for a moment: if your motivation is about LOOKING better above-and-beyond wanting to FEEL better and PERFORM better, this might be a problem in and of itself.)
“Make it fun” means mixing up your routine. Do you run the same 3 mile course every day? Sick of it? Pick somewhere new. Or, make a new training goal, like saying, “I’m going to run between this mailbox and that parked car as fast as humanly possible.” Whatever.
It means trying some new ways to exercise. On that Celebrity Fit Club thing, one of the people went to a fitness class that used stripping as a means of getting fit. Originally, I thought, “this is just stupid.” But then, when I saw what was involved in actually swinging around that pole, I thought, “can *I* do that?”
(Sorry to everyone who just accidentally flashed on the notion of me being a stripper. Not a chance.)
Last point on this one. Y’know what’d be fun? Adult Dodge Ball.
#5: Consistency Trumps Volume. If you can GUARANTEE you’ll exercise 2 times a week at the same time of day EVERY week for the next few months, that’s WAY better than being able to sneak in two or three workouts at random times. I say that because one part of trying to get fit involves developing new habits. Surprise surprise. Repetition breeds success. Those nuns were on to something, I guess. Just in the sense that exercise habits must be built, it’s better to try and pick a consistent method and time frame, because you’re more likely to stick with it.
#6: Do a time audit. Can’t find time to work out? People say that to me always. How can you get to the gym (or out running) four times a week? Well, when the mileage starts getting up there, it’s a challenge for most everyone, but in general, and for fitness levels only, if you can manage to scare up an hour per session and have three or four sessions a week, that’s great. Where do you find it?
*Get up an hour earlier. Of course, this also means going to bed one hour earlier.
*Kill three TV shows a week. Face it. You will NEVER need to know forensic science, and if you do, CSI already knows you and has contacted you to ask what you think about a plot with a guy who likes to poop in his oversized diapers.
*Schedule family exercise. My 2.85 year old likes to jump around and dance. Well, oddly, that’s aerobic activity. She loves to fidget with dumbells (she REFUSES to use the 2 lbs, and only wants the 5s and 10s. Aieee). Any exercise (hike, skiing, bike ride, etc) where you can sneak the whole family out to do it is a great exercise.
#7: Make a Power Poster. I said this on the food motivation one, too. My power posters have all kinds of really fit people doing really fit things. I have two up at work (little 11×17 posters) and one huge posterboard up at home. It’s really hard to want to do snail-things when I’m looking at all these fit people. It reminds me to stay focused and motivated on my interests in fitness.
I dunno. Seven seems like a great number for now. Anyone want to add a few ideas for YOUR motivation to exercise?