Most people I know don’t like to work out. I have to talk myself into it almost every day. But these tricks can help you every day make exercise a habit. You may not look forward to it, but you’ll be working out every day.
Cool workout clothes. They always say that if you look good, you feel good. And having at least one great-looking workout outfit will make you feel spectacular. Every time you get a glimpse of yourself in the mirror, you’ll say, “Darn, I look good!” You’ll look forward to putting on your spiffy workout clothes and doing your workout.
Look beyond the workout. You’ll feel wonderful when you finish your workout. You may not want to start your workout because you know it’ll be hard, so look ahead a half hour. Yes, your hair may be a mess when you’re done, and you may stink to high heaven. But you’ll feel amazing! Your cheeks will be flushed, your eyes will be bright and you’ll feel like you can take on a whole football team and win!
Your cool workout clothes and your sneakers will be staring you in the face. And you don’t want your free weights to get lonely, do you? And if you work out at home like I do, you only have to push “play” to start. No commute time or anything. And you’ll be done and feel amazing (see #2. above) in no time.
Set tiny, achievable goals each day. If your workout has a set of 10 pushups and you’ve been doing them on your knees, do one full pushup. Or if you’ve been using 3 pound weights for curls, try a set with your 5-pounders. Or try jogging for a half-minute when you’ve been marching. Pretty soon you’ll be doing the full workout, and you’ll have to buy heavier weights!
I have a (mostly) sedentary job. I work at a computer, so I’m sitting most of the day. When you reach a certain age … you expect to get stiff and for things to fall asleep if you stay in one position for too long. And when you have bad knees and bad hips, you KNOW that you’re going to be stiff when you get up. But it doesn’t have to be that way, if you’re diligent.
Get up every hour and walk around for a couple of minutes. It doesn’t have to be a long march around the block, or a hike in the woods. Just for a couple of minutes. I walk to the front of the shop and back a couple of times (our miniscule shop is less than 500 square feet). That’s all it takes for me to feel looser. But on nice days, I might take the phone with me and walk outside a little bit. A little Vitamin D helps too! If your hips feel especially tight, stretch out those hip flexors, like the stretch in the photo. I feel this where my hand is. And take a drink of water every time you sit back down – you’ll need to get up in about an hour! So, how does getting up and moving around help?
Get up and move around to loosen things up! Yes, it works. The hips are definitely looser and the knees are working better.
Get rid of the clouds in your head. You’ll think better.
That problem you’ve been pondering has had a chance to settle itself in your brain without you consciously thinking about it.
That email you were waiting for has probably reached your inbox.
You’ll have a better outlook on things. The world of doom and gloom might look cheerier after a short walk. You may see something to make you smile. You’ll at least gain some perspective after a change of scenery.
I hope you try it. Set a timer for an hour each time you sit down if you lose track of time. Your hips and knees will thank you.
It’s Monday morning, and my brain is whirling. Feed the dogs, feed the lizard, make my lunch. Boil water for coffee. DON’T SPILL IT! Wait… the lizard isn’t eating his bugs… wait … wait … wait … Would you eat already? I have to water the plants … I have to wash my hair … I have to …
Just wait. Stop. Why am I stressing? I love my little lizard. He’s just waking up. Other stuff can just wait. Focus on the important things. My family. The dogs are fine. My sister and I are fine. I’ll get to work when I get there.
The answer is to think about nothing!
So often our minds are spinning out of control, we’re anxious and stressed about things that are unimportant. It’s easy to lose focus.
When that happens to me, especially on Mondays, I have to just stop and take a couple of minutes and close my eyes. Think about absolutely nothing. Just nothing. If my mind wanders, I consciously bring it back to nothing. People call this “meditation.” I call it thinking about nothing.
“Meditation” has gotten a bad rap in modern society. People hear the word and they see yogis in long skirts sitting in the lotus position with their hands on knees. Or they think of hippies in the ’60s with tie-dyed t-shirts, tattered jeans and barefoot at Woodstock.
But meditation has helped me to focus. When I clear my mind, important tasks become clearer.
If I’m having a hard time clearing my mind to think of nothing – if there are too many extraneous thoughts running through my mind, then I’ll picture a beautiful sunset or a single flower.
After a couple of minutes I can open my eyes and the day is clear. The tasks are lined up in the right order and I can be productive.
The best position for meditation
Do you have to sit cross-legged to meditate? Nope. Just sit in a comfortable position so that you can totally relax. It’s traditional to have your hands palms-up on your knees to be receptive to good things, and I like that. Sometimes I’ll sit in a chair. Sometimes I’ll sit on the floor. Most often I’ll sit on a low stool or yoga block so that I can sit cross-legged and my knees are comfortable.
I work out in the late afternoon. Many advocate an early-morning workout since distractions may be fewer, but late afternoon works for me. And it turns out that I may have inadvertently stumbled onto the most effective workout time!
Better sleep when working out later. Studies have shown that those who lift weights later have better sleep than those who exercise earlier.
Those who work out later have more muscle growth and better endurance.
A study in Journal of Strength Conditioning Research found that those who exercise later lowered their blood pressure by 15% more than those who work out earlier.
A study from The New England University of Birmingham found that those who work out in the evening can go 20 percent longer and at a higher intensity. So, more calories burned!
Your body will be ready to work out later in the day! Studies have found that cortisol levels (which inhibit muscle growth) are higher in the morning, but testosterone levels (which boost muscle growth) are higher in the evening.
So, I’ve been on the right track all along.
But that’s not to say that you shouldn’t work out if the best time for you is the morning. Any workout is better than none!
7 early morning things to jump-start your weight-loss journey:
1. Get plenty of sleep! You’ll be full of energy, which will help you stay on track. If you’re tired, you’re more likely to reach for whatever’s easiest, like those chocolate chip cookies.
2. Catch some rays – just a bit. Sunshine helps increase your energy level which boosts your metabolism. Don’t lie in the sun, just lift your face to the sunshine as you walk to your car. And when you reach your destination, do it again. It’ll lift your spirits and boost your metabolism.
3. Eat protein – lean protein also helps boost your metabolism! Egg whites are great for breakfast.
4. Drink water with your breakfast (after coffee…) more water helps fight bloat!
5. Pack snacks – pack healthy snacks for your day. A few almonds, celery or carrot sticks will help you avoid the vending machine. 10 almonds are just as satisfying as a fun-size candy bar – and much healthier. A little thought saves a trip to the vending machine!
6. Get moving – try to fit in 20 minutes of exercise early – another metabolism booster! And just think how virtuous you’ll feel, having exercised before work. You’ll even have more energy before lunch.
7. Walk part of the way to work. Add to your exercise regime! And take a flight or two of stairs instead of the elevator the entire way.
You know how I just told you to find a workout you love and you’ll be more likely to do it? Well, I don’t do that. I found results that I love and do the workout program that created them!
Reality check here – I hate working out. No, really! I’d much rather be reading a book than sweating and squatting. I’d rather be training my dogs than doing lunges. I’d rather be writing … anything … than doing bicep curls.
But I do it because I love to eat. I do it because I do love to train my dogs. I love to run agility with my dogs. I love to hike in new destinations. I love being able to run up and down the stairs five hundred times because I forgot … whatever … or I have loads of laundry to do.
And I love not having knee pain, back pain, hip pain. I stumbled in my dog agility class the other night. (I’m not the most graceful person, and some of the moves our instructor had us doing were a little complicated.) I didn’t fall, but I could feel the stress on my knees, ankles and shins. I thought to myself – well, tomorrow’s going to be an Aleve day! But it wasn’t. No pain.
Of course, I do like seeing more definition in my arms and abs. I like that my pants are feeling looser in the hips and tummy.
And it just takes 30 minutes a day in the basement for me to do an insane workout. Yup, a lot of days I don’t feel like working out, but I do it because it is just 30 minutes. I know that I’ll feel virtuous for having exercised. And that shower afterward feels SO good!
Do you hate to work out? The thought of exercise sends you running to the store until it’s too late to work out? You know that exercise is good for you … and you really, really meant to go for a run this morning, but the kids were naughty, the dog threw up …
Yes, exercise is good for you. It’s good for your heart, it helps bring down your stress level, you’ve even heard that it’s good for your brain (that part is true, too, by the way!). But you hate running and jumping.
That’s OK. The key is to find an exercise program that you enjoy. Do you like music? Do you love to dance? Terrific! There are loads of dance-based workouts available. You like music but still don’t like jumping around? There are even ballet-based workouts.
Do the martial arts intrigue you, but you don’t want to fight anyone? Me neither. There are some great martial arts-based exercise programs. Chances are if you check out a local Krav Maga studio, they’ll have a fitness-type class in their schedule. A serious workout with martial arts flair.
Do you like the idea of yoga, but not all the touchy-feely stuff? Call a few local yoga studios and chances are you’ll find the perfect class for you.
The point is, whatever your interests are, you’ll find a workout that you’ll love. Need suggestions? Contact me!
Some days you just don’t feel it. Me too. You don’t feel like getting sweaty. You’re tired. Your legs are tired. You’d rather be reading. You’d rather be listening to music. You’d rather be playing with your dog. (I know, I advocate playing with your dog over almost anything else, but …) But working out is something I have to do at least 5 days a week. What tricks do I use?
First, if I’m feeling especially frumpy I put on my good workout clothes. Silly, right? Good workout clothes? Isn’t that a contradiction? Nope. If I feel like I look good doing those lunges, it makes it better. So, put on those leggings! Put on that body-hugging top that makes the most of what you’ve got! You’ll feel great, and more likely to do the workout. And if you look like that inspiring trainer you saw on Facebook, you may just get a better workout!
Next, promise yourself 8 minutes. Just start. 8 minutes is nothing! Then it’s 10 minutes, 15, 25 and then you’re done! It just takes 30 minutes a day. That’s it!
And if you don’t work out for yourself, do it for those around you! Yes, when you’re done, you’ll feel great. You’ll feel virtuous! But you’ll also be more patient. You’ll be nicer to those around you. You’ll have more time for the family. Work out for everyone else as well as yourself!
The body achieves what the mind believes. Strong stuff. How much is really in your mind? Can you achieve anything you believe?
I think you have to temper that with a short dose of reality. I know I’m never going to be a rock star. For one thing, I can’t carry a tune. Wait – that doesn’t stop a lot of “rock stars” I hear on the radio. For another, I don’t play the guitar. Hmmm, again, not a prerequisite. And, I’m 60 years old. Well, I guess stranger things have happened. I’ll have to work on a look.
But, really. The mind is incredibly powerful. Let’s think about something a little less esoteric. Say, my goal is to do 10 regular pushups. No girlie pushups on my knees. No – real pushups on my toes. And my starting point is that I can’t do any from my toes. No problem. Do 20 pushups on my knees. And 10 with one leg straight, the other knee on the floor. And switch to the other knee. The next day, I’ll do more, and try one pushup on my toes. The key is to practice every single day. Eventually I know I’ll get stronger and I’ll be able to reach my goal. And then I’ll make a new goal.
Are you bored with your routine? Then it might be time to switch it up! I was doing one kind of workout for months. I enjoyed it, but I kept resisting going downstairs to push “play.” I found one excuse after another until there just wasn’t time to work out. And that led to bad eating habits, too. My portions got bigger, the foods were not as healthy. It was a downward spiral.
So I decided, “I’m an accountability coach. I should be able to figure this out!” I switched to a different workout program. And I started following the nutritional guidelines for that program. And 3 weeks later, I’ve lost 4 pounds and am not bored. I need more carbohydrates than this meal program allows, to be happy, so I’ll add more from time to time. I don’t snack, as a rule, so that’s a plus.
I don’t like this workout program as much as the one that I had been doing, and that could be a problem. It’s harder on my knees, and that’s another problem. But I’ll modify the moves that I feel are bad, and just keep pushing “play.” And then when I get bored, perhaps I’ll rediscover that first workout and stay motivated!