I hate working out in the traditional sense for so many reasons.
- I’m way too self-conscious. I go to the gym and worry if my shirt is riding up and showing off my glow-in-the-dark stomach. Or if that hot guy is checking me out, “How does my hair look? Am I turning red? Oh my god, what if he’s laughing at me?” So not productive.
- I’m way too competitive (my family will attest to this). Instead of focusing on doing what I need to do at the level I need to do it, I’m sneaking a peek at the girl on the treadmill next to me to see how fast she’s running. I can go faster than her! Or, that person just lifted 10 pounds on that machine. I’ll lift 15! Again, not productive and a good way to get injured.
- I lose motivation if no one is watching. Once I realize that the gym is not the best option for me (see above) I decide to get a couple workout videos and some weights and just work out at home. After a week or so, I start to wonder why Jillian Michaels won’t give me a break when I’m begging her to. Then I start cursing at her. And then, after a particularly long day at work, I decide to watch a little tv before working out. Before I know it, the weights are gathering dust in the corner, and my exercise plan has become a distant memory.
- I don’t really know where to start. I know I need to exercise but I don’t know which exercises will be the best for me. Or how many reps or sets to do. Or how long to run, or should I walk? Before I know it, I’ve got twelve different blogs open, all telling me different things, and I’m so overwhelmed that I decide to figure it out tomorrow. Or the next day. Or maybe next month after I’m done with that other thing.
I know I need to do more than think about working out to get the benefits of working out. Thinking about a run through the park is not going to get my heart rate up. Considering doing some crunches is not going to get me flat abs.
Logically, I know that working out is going to make me feel better and look better, but how do I start? If all my previous attempts have failed, how do I pick myself up yet again and succeed this time? Or the next time? Or the time after that?
If any of this sounds like something you’ve thought or said or had nightmares about, you’re not alone! I’m not going to pretend to have all the answers. But I have been struggling with this problem for years and have figured out a lot of the dos and don’ts the hard way so you can learn them the easy way.
DO stop worrying about everyone else!
Believe it or not, you are the only person thinking about how you look and what you’re doing. The other people in the gym or at the park will not be thinking about you when they get home because they have their own lives and insecurities to obsess over! Stop making your workout time about them!
That said, if feeling attractive or stylish makes you want to get out more, then use that! I definitely feel better during my workout when I feel like I look good, so I have tons of clothes just for exercising that are brightly colored and high-tech-athletic looking. They may not actually make me perform better, but they make me feel better so they’re totally worth it!
DON’T compete with people who aren’t competing with you!
The people around you don’t care how much you’re lifting or how fast you’re going (unless you’re blocking the sidewalk…don’t be that guy). See above re: they have their own lives to worry about. Stop paying attention to what they’re doing and focus on you.
Easier said than done, I know. Find some way to distract yourself. Put in your headphones and crank up the tunes (my running playlist is below) or your favorite podcast. Pick something in front of you and try to move it with your mind. Bonus: While your brain is busy rocking out or trying to summon your inner Harry Potter, it won’t be paying as much attention to how tired or sore you are!
DO find something active that you enjoyed doing as a kid!
Were you that kid that rode their bike around the block over and over again? Maybe you were on the soccer or baseball team or enjoyed a game of kickball during recess? Whatever your thing was, who says you can’t still enjoy those things now?!
When I wasn’t busy playing house, I liked games that involved running (but no airborne projectiles…soccer and I were not a good fit!). I remember being faster than several of the boys in my third-grade class and feeling a sense of pride every time I passed them in gym class. Now, I get passed more often than I do the passing, but I still enjoy that feeling of going fast!
DON’T expect it to get easier!
“You’ve gotta want it bad, ’cause it’s gonna put up a fight.” ~ The American President
Granted, he was talking about democracy, but the same holds true for fitness. If you want to continue seeing results from your sweat sessions, you are going to have to work harder over time. While you can do the exact same workout every day, you will need to do more reps or lift heavier weights eventually if you want to get stronger.
When the five-pound weights or the one mile run start to feel easy, your body is telling you that it’s ready for a new challenge. Get some heavier weights, run a little further, or switch it up entirely!
Just like you grow and change throughout your life, your work out needs to grow and change as well, which leads us to…
DO change it up!
Just because you picked a particular workout to begin with, doesn’t mean that’s the only thing you can ever do! In fact, mixing it up can provide better results and keep you from getting bored.
If you’ve been doing a lot of cardio, try some strength training. If you’ve always got loud music playing when you sweat, find a yoga class and slow things down. There are tons of options out there, so go try something new!
DON’T make excuses!
Yes, there are a million other things that need your attention. But guess what, your health and well being are more important than all of them! If you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of anything else. Choose to spend some time on you!