I've lost count of the times I open an email that says, “I hate working out but I want to be fit.” It's so relatable.
I have a love-hate relationship with exercise.
Like you, I love the idea of exercise. Of course, I also love the feeling I get when I DO exercise. We can all appreciate the fact that exercise can transform, make us healthier, and even help us lose weight.
As much as I love those things, I hate that it takes up part of my day. Having sore muscles, getting sweaty, or paying money to exercise aren't things I love. But as much as some of us hate exercise, we know that we must get in some physical activity on a daily basis. Not only for weight loss, but for physical and mental wellness.
Just 15 minutes each day can lengthen your life by three years. Exercise helps reduce blood pressure, maintain your weight, stabilize your blood sugar and helps fight depression.Joseph Mercola
Maybe that sounds crazy but the health benefits extend beyond physical fitness. I have worked out on and off most of my life, I even exercised through six pregnancies. I have encouraged others to work out as well because I know that it's so important to get your heart rate up on a daily basis.
What is the Best Workout?
You may have heard that the best workout is the one you'll stick to, right? So how do you get started and what do you do if you hate working out but you want to be fit? What have you tried that you didn't like and why? Over the years I've heard women say (and I've experienced this too) that going to the gym makes them feel uncomfortable. That is understandable, especially after my children were born, sometimes it was hard to get back to workout class knowing my bodyweight wasn't what it used to be.
Procrastination won't get you anywhere, so if you don't like going to the gym consider working out at home.
You can do so much at home using your own body weight. Add these to your list:
- sprints in your backyard
- any kind of dance or Zumba
Remember, a workout can be a game of volleyball with your family or lifting weights in your garage. You don't have to have a home gym to work out. My family built up muscle doing pull-ups in the doorway of my kitchen! My oldest daughter started to build up her upper body at home by hanging from the chin-up bar until she could pull herself up one time and then she continued to work her way up from there.
If you're short on space, consider a yoga mat in your living room or a fold-up rebounder that can be pulled out for some cardio fitness. Try HIIT routines; there are plenty for free on Youtube. You might find that you enjoy interval training as it packs a lot of work into a shorter period of time.
At Home vs. Gym
If you want to build muscle, however, you might find that you don't have room for everything you need. In this case, you might want to go for a gym membership. You may even consider hiring a personal trainer. That can be expensive, which can be one more reason to hate working out, so if you have a friend or coworker who enjoys working out, challenge one another to keep going or have a friendly competition.
Keep in mind you don't have to work out in a gym or at home, you can join classes like ballroom dancing, or Tai Chi or other martial arts (like Taekwondo) to get fit.
My experience and my love/hate relationship with exercise
Part of my life I've spent working out at the gym and part of it I have worked out at home. I have tried almost every form of exercise that's been popular in the last 20 years! For me, the key to being consistent with exercise is to make it something that you are doing for fun so you don't see it as exercise.
Here are a few things I don't like about the gym and/or working out at home and some solutions that I have found:
- Time! My number one problem with working out is giving up time when I have so many other important things I'd rather be doing. I have learned to reason with myself on this one. If I don't workout then I may be out of shape which could lead to illness or other problems which will cost me time in the future. In the past I have tried to find the perfect time to workout, but weeks go by and I still hadn't found it. Finally, I realized, the perfect time may never happen! I decided to just make it a priority and fit it in. The earlier int he day I do it, the better chance I'll fit it in and cut back on something else, like social media or television.
- People… I know this sounds so anti-social, but you know those people, the perfume wearers, the grunters, the heavy breather next to you, the person having a full blown phone argument right next to you, or the ones who use the equipment you need forever…. (solution? work out at home, or use earbuds to listen to a podcast or music)
- Getting sweaty – there's not a lot that can be done about it, if you are working out effectively, you're going to sweat. Hey, that's great though because it means your body is working and you are getting the job done! I like to wear fabrics that breathe well and allow sweat to evaporate quickly.
- Doing it right or looking like a nerd. Am I the only person who carries my written workout plan with me around the gym? Even if I've been following a workout routine for a while, I still carry my “plan” so that I can keep up with my progress, you know, reps, weights, etc.? I have only once noticed another person carrying a workout plan on paper. My solution is to focus on just doing it, getting the workout done and not going overboard with planning it.
- Sore muscles. You know that feeling when you come home from leg day and you can't get upstairs to your bedroom, so you just go ahead and sleep on the couch? Try soaking in a tub with Epsom salts and some essential oils to reduce the soreness. Remember, with time the pain lessens, so stick with it.
- Keeping my motivation. It's so easy to justify not doing my workout. There are just so many important things that need to be done! This may fall along the lines of time, but sometimes even when I have time, I just don't want to. If I schedule my workouts and preplan my consequences, then I stay more motivated. Scroll down to see my solution to “lack of motivation”
Encouraging my kids to exercise is one of the most important things I can do as a mom. My youngest ran her first 5k at age five.
Here are my top tips for enjoying your workouts:
- Workout with a friend, your spouse, or your kids. Whoever you choose, preferably it will be someone who is also very committed to their health! You can keep each other motivated and you will find it easier to get up and go when you know someone is waiting on you. I often workout by myself, but I prefer working out with a friend. I have worked out with my kids a lot.
- Set goals for your own fitness. The first time I set a fitness goal was when I wanted to complete my first 5k. Setting goals to compete against yourself are the best type of goals.
- Make it a habit. Don't just try to “stay motivated” but get specific. Routine = Consistency = Success. See below.
- Mix up your routine. Try different things. Make it fun! Getting burned out on the treadmill? Why not swim, play tennis, do yoga, pilates, or a Bodypump class? Keeping it fresh will help you stay motivated to as much as anything!
After I set my goals I have to make a way to follow through with them. It's NOT simply to “stay motivated“… people who specifically state when and where their new behaviors are going to happen are much more likely to stick to their goals. Since I am discussing exercise, let's say you want to start an exercise habit this week. You’ll be more likely to stick to that goal if you plan out when and where you are going to exercise each day. For me it goes like this, “tomorrow morning I am going to work out at the gym before breakfast” or “tomorrow afternoon I plan to attend a yoga class.”
Building flexibility within structure. I am a very rigid structured person. Sometimes if things don't go according to my plan I lose traction. I have been working with the idea that the “structure” is to work out five times per week. The flexibility is that if one morning I can't make it at 5 a.m. I can always go in the afternoon to a dance class instead of my usual workout or do a high-intensity power walk around my neighborhood.
Sometimes things don't go according to plan, especially in my afternoon workouts. Using if/then for planning out when and where you will perform a specific behavior turns your environment into a trigger for action. The time and place trigger your behavior, not your level of motivation—>if I miss exercising tonight, I will get up an hour earlier to make it up tomorrow. This strategy works amazingly for me.
Deciding in advance when & where you will take specific actions to reach a goal can double or triple your chances for success ~ Halvorson
For me it goes, if I start thinking of eating off plan because I'm sad, I will take a 5-minute prayer walk and drink water BEFORE I let myself give in.
Working out first thing in the morning is my way of being consistent. When I wake up I don't really want to go work out, but I just start getting ready to do it and I just don't listen to whatever my brain starts telling me about why I should stay home. I just focus on going through the motions until I'm at the gym. The next thing I know, I'm feeling glad that I followed through.
Also, if you are going to work out in the morning, take the time before you go to bed to lay out your gym clothes, your keys and membership card, a bottle of water, your shoes, etc. I have had this become an excuse before when I really didn't want to go in the first place. “I can't find my shoes or fill-in-the-blank, so I will just go tomorrow.” No, no, no! You must plan for success.
Update 2021: This year I hired a swim instructor and along with my thirteen-year-old daughter, I started learning to swim properly for the first time. I knew how to swim, but not with proper form. Let me tell you, this is a full-body workout! If you want cardio to prevent heart disease, start swimming laps. If you're an exercise hater, just keep trying different ways to move until you find something you love. For me, doing the same thing all the time is monotonous and that prevents me from being consistent. Also, working out with a loved one keeps you accountable.
When you cross the finish line, you get the most amazing feeling…Rebecca
My daughters, my mom and aunt, a family friend, and I all ran a 5k to benefit Alzheimer's Research. This was their very first 5k. I was so proud of them for completing it with me. Now you know how I get myself to work out, it's your turn to let me know your strategy! Let's talk about it in the Healthologist community.
By the way if you want to be able to get up and go work out in the morning it's imperative to get a good night's sleep. I write a lot about good sleep hygiene so take a minute to read about it!