I was going to start off this post by rambling about the plethora of benefits that come with physical activity. But I thought about it for five seconds and realized that I’m pretty sure that wouldn’t be news to anyone. The hard part about exercise is that whole DOING it part.
As healthy as exercise is, forcing yourself to do something you dread on a regular basis isn’t. But I really believe that everyone can get to a place that it doesn’t feel like a chore. It might take a bit of trial and error to find a way to make moving something you look forward to, but as someone who used to NOT enjoy exercise, I promise that it’s possible. These are the strategies that work well for me at this point in my life!
I know some people love sitting down on Monday and pencilling in specific workouts for the rest of the week. I can totally see the advantage of having it all planned out ahead of time, but I’ve realized that it’s not the game plan for me. There isn’t much rhyme or reason to it but different workout styles appeal to me on different days. Sometimes I’m in the mood for a fast and furious circuit and other times a long slow jog is the only idea that floats my boat. I don’t find myself dreading workouts when I give myself the freedom to call the shots daily.
It can also be really hard to predict muscle soreness and deciding on workouts one day at a time lets me adapt to it as it comes. If I wake up with screaming legs, I just do a workout that focuses on upper body and give my legs the rest they need.
2. I try to decide in the morning when I’ll get my exercise in
This funny thing happened when I finished school this semester and I had waaaay more free time on my hands: I found myself working out less often. After a bit of reflection I realized that when I’m busy at school, I have to figure out at the beginning of the day when I’m going to get my exercise or else it definitely won’t happen. But at the beginning of summer vacation with absolutely no plans on my agenda, I just figured I’d get to it later on sometime. But then 9 o’clock would roll around and I’d realize “oh… I never did work out today”. So nowadays, when I wake up, I think about when physical activity would best fit into the day and mentally pencil it in.
3. I don’t fear rest days.
Even though most days I look forward to working out, there are days when it doesn’t sound appealing. And on those days, I very simply don’t. I know this probably doesn’t mean much if you’re in a place that EVERYDAY is an I-don’t-feel-like-exercising kind of day. But in either case, don’t think of yourself as weak for not working out every.single.day! Rest is so important both physically and to avoid burnout.
Other days just have TOO much going on and trying to squeeze in a workout is just an added stress more than anything. And similarly, when that’s the case, I don’t sweat it! I don’t live to exercise… I exercise so that I can feel great living. Cancelling plans to work out would sort of go against that mentality.
4. I try to dissociate exercise and food.
I’m sometimes tempted to have an extra hard or long workout the day after I’ve eaten a lot more than usual or had a second serving of dessert or whatever it may be. But I think that type of logic is really conducive to seeing exercise as punishment. And what a sad thought that is! I know it’s really cliche but I think having a body that allows for physical activity is such a privilege. Doesn’t it seem backward to think of it as atonement for yesterday’s sins?
So when I do indulge a little extra, I do my best to wake up the next morning and simply resume my normal routine. Everything balances out in the end.
5. I don’t discount the benefits of low-impact activity
Aside from workouts, some days my movement is limited to going back and forth between my living room and kitchen. Other days I hardly sit down and walk a few kilometres at Costco (only partially kidding) and get an arm workout during baking experiments (also only partially kidding).
When I’ve been writing “working out” and “physical activity” in this post, I don’t necessarily mean going to the gym for an hour. I really just mean moving your body. If for you that is best done in a gym setting, then do it! But if you prefer to do that by walking in a forest, dancing, cutting the grass or whatever else, that’s awesome too!
6. I don’t try to emulate someone else’s exercise routine.
I follow a lot of bloggers that work out first thing in the morning before even eating breakfast. I was so gung-ho about the idea when it first came to mind. “It’ll be done before I even realize that I’m awake!” But I tried it a few times and realized that it was not for me. Even though I’m a morning person, everything felt harder than it usually does and I was just sort of mad that I was missing out on the leisurely morning routine that I really cherish. I might give it another shot someday and feel totally differently but for now I stick to later workouts and that is a-okay with me.
The same goes for all of these tips; just because they work for me doesn’t mean they’re best for you. And there is nothing wrong with that! You are your own built-in guinea pig so I encourage you to experiment and find a way to fall in love with moving!
In your experience, what works best for you?