Your workout may be easier with a friend

Your workout may be easier with a friend to cheer you on.
Working out with a friend makes it easier.

Your workout may be easier with a friend. After all, you’ll be sharing the misery. What’s that old saying – “Misery loves company?” Is that because if it’s shared it doesn’t feel like torture? Or because you can laugh at each other’s funny faces as you grimace through the hard parts? 

You’re doing the work

Exercise, unless you’re doing specific pairs exercises, though, is a solitary endeavor. When you run, it’s your legs doing the work. Not someone else’s. It’s you who is lifting that heavy weight. You’re the one who is struggling to stay on her feet as you near the finish line. And you are the only one responsible for your success – or your failure.

A friend’s motivation can help

But a friend can really keep you motivated on your fitness journey. It’s not easy at the best of times to stay on the straight and narrow path of an exercise program. Someone to talk to, to commiserate with, can help you stick with your plan. You may hate the same exercises, and dread when a certain yoga pose is coming up in the flow. And you can agree that the best part of a workout is the final stretch and cool-down.

You don’t even have to be together

But in these days of pandemic separation, how do you exercise with a friend? Many gyms have closed. You’re nervous about being out of breath with a mask on. You don’t even want to be close to other people. 

To get the support of a friend, though, you don’t actually have to exercise together or even do the same workout. You can both exercise and then arrange to get on a Zoom or Facetime call at a specific time to talk about your respective workouts. That might even be more fun than exercising together – because it’s really hard to talk if your workout is effective! You’ll have the accountability we all need to stick to an exercise program. And it’s fun to complain with someone who knows exactly what you’re experiencing.

Important for support and accountability

I wrote about the importance of having your friends and family support your healthy lifestyle plan a while ago. It’s still important to have that support and accountability. Your friends and family are your support system, which we all need to be happy and resilient these days. Yes, it’s possible to go it alone. You can stick to any plan you design. But it’s easier with others.

Commitment is easy

I’ll use losing weight as an example, but the same truth holds for nearly every undertaking. They say that losing weight takes real commitment. So you hesitate because, well, commitment. But commitment is easy.

Where do you want to be?

When the path offered to you is the best way to get to where you want to be, it’s easy to stay committed to that path. When your reason for taking that path is so important to you that it keeps you up at night, has you researching solutions at all hours of the day, and distracts you so much that you find it difficult to focus on other things, commitment is easy.

If the vision you have for your life involves playing with kids, grandkids, dogs or even cats, commitment to your weight loss path is easy. If you want to work in your garden or even sit comfortably in a chair, if you have that focused picture in your brain, commitment to losing weight is easy.

Those triceps are not going to work themselves. When I realized that I really wanted my arms to be toned, commitment to that was easy.

My grandmother had triceps that I did not want. Really did not want. I realized that at an early age, when she was probably no older than I am now (65). I wanted toned arms, not wiggly jiggly arms. Commitment to that was easy. So most every workout I do now has a section that focuses on triceps (triceps kickback exercise pictured).

If your reason for undertaking that journey is so overwhelming that there is no other option than to take it, then there’s no question of your commitment.But if you think to yourself that it would just be “nice,” then you won’t be committed to that goal.

Do you have the reason to commit?

So, think about your reasons to undertake that journey. Are they all-consuming, or just “nice?” If they’re just nice, this is probably not the time for you to start. If you have questions, if you’re not certain, then certainly you’ll fail.

On the other hand, if your reason is so huge that it takes up most of your brain, it’s time to focus. Recognize that no one else will do this for you. (I wrote about this a while ago.) Time to plan. Start to think of a concrete method to get you to where you want to be. 

Once you have a reason and a plan, there’s no stopping you! It’s time to put that plan into action.

Next step: set goals. I find that it’s best to lay out my ultimate goal – what the final picture looks like. Then set intermediate goals. These goals must be challenging, but achievable. And they must be written down. If you see your goals in your own handwriting, they’re yours. You have an investment in them. 

Start brainstorming. What do you REALLY want?

How do I motivate myself to work out?

You know that I don’t like to work out. I’ve said it before and I’ll most likely say it again. If I didn’t have to do it, I wouldn’t. So how do I motivate myself to work out?

I’ve talked about getting motivated before, about losing motivation, about getting motivated to start exercising, but I’ve been at this a while. What does it take to get me off the couch?

There are 3 things I think about when I need to get myself motivated:

1. It’ll be over before I know it.

How do I motivate myself to exercise when I don't want to

Once I start, I know that it’ll be over. 45 minutes is nothing. Some workouts are just 30 minutes. Once I push “play,” I let the instructor take over my brain. I release all thought and simply focus on the moves.

Unless the dogs get into it. Then I push “pause” and deal with them. Then I push “play” again.

The exercise programs I choose usually have very upbeat music, so it’s easy for me to get lost in the music and the movements and just concentrate on holding my stomach in, keeping my back straight, using the proper muscles – the workout itself.

2. If I don’t workout, then I’ll have to …

I know that I’ll feel guilty if I don’t work out, so I tell myself that if I don’t work out, I’ll have to do something that I don’t want to do even more. Like cleaning out the pantry. Or my desk. Something even lower on my list of things I don’t like to do.

In this case, exercising is the lesser of 2 evils. So I exercise.

3. That shower is going to feel so good!

The third thing I say when I want to motivate myself to work out is to promise myself a reward. Yes, that steamy shower with the fragrant body wash is a reward. It’s the incentive I give myself for getting as sweaty as possible. Any reward will do, but it’s a reward I give myself almost every day so I can’t go too crazy!

And that’s how I motivate myself to do something I really don’t want to do. Easy.