This is not an article on the benefits of exercise. My guess is you could list those yourself. I get asked all the time how I stay motivated to work out. What I’m giving you is my one hand approach – a “D” for each digit – to help you motivate yourself to work out. You really do have the power. It’s all in your hands.
Decide you are worth the investment. If you are like most people, you are busy. There are only so many hours in the day and you have a myriad of tasks and responsibilities. And there is only one of you. So how do you make exercise a priority? Decide. That’s it! Just make the decision to work out most days of the week. Sounds easy and in a way it is. Once you make up your mind the rest is simply a matter of planning.
Determine what it will take for you to stick with it. Consider your personality. Are you a life of the party type and enjoy a lot of people a lot of the time? If so, you will be more faithful exercising in a group setting. Try a Zumba or Kickboxing class. The fast pace, the music and the people will make your workout feel more like a party.
Or, are you like me and cherish your alone time? Go solo for power walks or a run. Most of the time you will enjoy working out alone but an occasional workout session with a friend is fun, too. On my own I pray, meditate or work through a troubling or challenging situation. I always take my cell phone and take a picture when something catches my attention. Often these images inspire me in my writing.
Develop a support system among family, friends and like-minded folks. Let your family know how important it is for you to workout. Chances are they’ll be supportive and your commitment will likely influence them to form the habit too.
Find a friend or two already invested in weekly exercise. Many runners meet with others on a weekly basis to run or cross train together. Instead of a lunch date with a friend, meet at a local park for a speed walk or circuit training. This is multitasking that makes sense. You get your workout in and your friend tank filled simultaneously. I meet with a friend once a week for a run. Admittedly it’s hard to hold a conversation and keep a decent running pace so we take scattered walk breaks when we’re swapping good stories.
Read print and online magazines geared to your workout of choice. (I like this one.) Enlist facebook friends to support your healthy lifestyle. There are many accountability and support groups for all types of exercise. If you can’t find one that fits the bill, start a facebook page or group yourself!
Dress appropriately for your specific workout. Go ahead and buy a couple of outfits that are comfortable and flattering. Don’t put yourself on hold. Often the big name sports retailers have coupons in the newspaper. Target and WalMart have affordable workout clothing. (I often find good deals on fitness attire here and here.) Save money on clothing so you can invest more in the right pair of shoes for your sport and for your feet.
Simply getting dressed to workout will help you get out the door. Or pop in a DVD, clear out some space in your family room and get moving. There are so many DVD’s to choose from no matter what type exercise you enjoy. (I like this one and this one.)
Do it even when you are not in the mood. Stop thinking about doing it and do it. I’ve been working out consistently for a few years now and there are times when I just don’t feel like doing it. I consider whether I really need an extra rest day or if I’m just feeling lazy and unmotivated. Usually it’s the latter. So I give myself a pep talk and stop thinking up reasons that I don’t want to run or strength train (my workouts of choice). I quit thinking about it and just do it.
Ignore your excuses, get dressed and get moving. I never regret a workout but always regret the ones I skipped for no good reason. Sure, there are times when you need to listen to your body; and other times when you need to shush it and show it who’s boss.
I asked my facebook friends what prevents them from weekly workouts. Their responses are after the bullet points. My suggestions follow.
- not enough time/work schedule
On your days off get in 45 minutes of cardio.
On your work days, keep it short and simple with a 20 minute workout using hand weights. You can do this while watching TV.
Do you walk your dog? Walk yourself along with him. Aim for 20 minutes.
- no one to watch the kids
Go old school and play “gym class” in the yard. Do jumping jacks, push-ups, sit-ups and toss in some squats and lunges.
Find a friend who will watch your kids for an hour while you go to the gym, bike or run. Trade off the second hour so she can do the same. Your kids will get a two hour play date and you’ll get in a workout.
Take the kids to the park. Briskly push a stroller while the younger ones ride bikes or scooters. I see young moms doing this all the time in the park where I run.
Get in some circuit training while keeping an eye on the kids as they enjoy the playground area.
- too hot
Jump in a pool and swim laps or do underwater resistance.
Rise early before the heat climbs or work out in the cooler evening. My favorite park stays open until 8:45 p.m. in the summer.
Take a spin class at your local gym. Mine has fans blowing in the spin room.
- matching exercise to personality type
Try different types of workouts to see what sticks. You’ll return to what you enjoy.
My friend, Shona Neff – the Personality Mechanic – writes about personality types and exercise here.
The 5-D’s to motivate yourself to workout:
Decide, Determine, Develop, Dress, Do (click to tweet)
Come back tomorrow for a “quick fix workout” that combines cardio and resistance in just a few minutes time. In the meantime, get a little spiritual inspiration to build some muscle here.
So tell me what you think. Will my 5-D approach help you motivate yourself to get moving? Thus far, what has been your biggest motivation zapper?
5-D plan – © 2012 Melanie Dorsey