I always thought that there were just some people who love exercise. Like they were either born that way or came from families who were really committed to fitness and learned super young. But you see, I’m neither of those! I definitely wasn’t born with an exercise gene and no one I knew growing up was committed to fitness, unless you count lifting the remote as a workout. So, I figured I was doomed to a life of drudgery, self-punishment, and white knuckle will power when it came to working out. And guess what I discovered… if you think of exercise in that way, you’ll never stick to it! Have you discovered that too? If so, it’s really not your fault that you haven’t been able to establish a good workout routine. You’ve just been going about it in the wrong way. So, I’m here to tell you the secret, the key to not only getting your workouts in but to actually even look forward to them. You have to make exercise fun! Here are a few tips to help you do just that!
Trash the Idea of Right and Wrong
Listen I’ve read the articles too. You know the ones about what exercises you should do for your age, gender, body type, weight loss goals, etc., etc., ad nauseum! It’s flat out overwhelming and leads a person to believe that if you aren’t into that particular form of exercise there’s just no point. This simply isn’t true! The most important thing is that you get your body moving consistently, like every day. And the truth is, even if HIIT is supposed to be the best fitness program ever for your demographic and goals, if you hate it or simply aren’t ready to go there, you’re not going to do it!
Moving your body in any way that you enjoy and will do consistently is the right exercise for you! It doesn’t have to be a structured workout. It doesn’t have to be what everyone else is doing. Give yourself a break! If you’re moving your body, you’re doing it right!
Yes, y’all… I know schmalleging isn’t a word! That’s just what I do when I think something is silly, I poke a little fun at it.
There’s this myth going around out there that exercise needs to be challenging. Ok, here’s the thing, there is some truth to this one. But… and this is a big but… if your fitness regimen is too challenging you just aren’t going to do it. Starting with something that feels comfortable, familiar, and fun is the key to building a lifelong habit. Why? You may ask. Well, because you’re doing something new and your brain is not a fan of new! I’m sure you’ve noticed how much we all despise change. You aren’t alone, we humans are hard wired this way.
You can trick your brain into being cool with your new habit by not making it super challenging. If it seems all mellow, fun, and exciting you’ll be more likely to do it and less likely to dread it. Once you get easy exercise into your daily life your brain will accept it. It’ll even create new neural pathways that put working out on auto pilot. THEN you can up the challenge factor!
Point here… start simple! You don’t have to be out of breath and sore for a week after working out. Get your brain comfortable with your new habit. Lure it into acceptance before making it challenging.
How Many Hours a Day???
Here’s what never worked for me… hitting the gym for 2 hours a day! Right?!?! I was honestly confused about why I couldn’t get my work out in consistently and was literally trying to do it for 2 HOURS every day! Right… that’s just unrealistic! I’m pretty sure we can all agree on that!
But can we also agree that 30 minutes a day might be unrealistic for some? Here’s the thing, that’s 100% true! So, let me help you get off the hook on this one. The science says that 30 minutes a day OR 150 – 180 minutes a week (broken into 3 sessions or more) is what’s necessary for your health. Some of you may need to read that again, it’s ok, I’ll wait. Please notice that it doesn’t say 1 30-minute session. It simply says 30 minutes a day. Research has shown that you can get the same health benefits from 3 10-minute sessions as 1 30-minute. PLUS… you start to lose benefits if you try to get that 180 minutes into only 2 days a week.
The most important thing is that you move your body every single day. So even if all you have time for is a 10-minute dance party in your kitchen… do it! And even if that’s all you do that day and you don’t get in your full 30 minutes that’s ok! The big question is… are you spending more time moving your body than you were before? If you are, that’s a HUGE win! Pat yourself on the back!
Expand your Horizons
Did you notice that “dance party in the kitchen” reference above? Did you know that totally counts as exercise? I’m betting that for many of you the answer is no!
Often when we think of working out, we think of something very formal. Maybe a class or a run comes to mind. Are you imagining CrossFit and Soul Cycle when I talk about exercise? Well, it’s time to expand your horizons!
The whole point of exercise is just to get you moving, get that blood flowing, increase those happy hormones and decrease the icky stress ones. That means you can do basically anything that gets you off the couch and be-bopping around. At first this can even be simply expanding on things you already do, like walking. Heck, even deep cleaning can count as exercise. Definitely a dance party counts, even if you’re at the club with your friends (just skip the alcohol, repeat after me, we don’t drink alcohol while we workout)!
Stop putting things on the staircase and taking them up in batches later. Y’all I just saw stair baskets in a catalog for the first time… who knew this is a thing. Go up and down the stairs a few extra times. Check out some new fitness class or videos, go window shopping, find out what your friends are doing and join them!
There are just so many good options. The most important thing is that you’re moving your body in a way you usually don’t.
This is one of my very favorite tips to make exercise fun! I’m a kill to birds with one stone kind of gal so anytime I can get anything in my schedule to do double duty I’m super excited about it.
Exercising with your friends or in a class environment is a great way to make it fun and create accountability! If your friends aren’t into fitness, well, you can share this post with them and help them reframe the whole thing into something fun. Or you could just ask them to join you in a fun activity or adventure (think paddle boarding or skiing… both totally count).
But if they’re really set against it, no worries, most gyms and city recreation centers offer classes at many skill levels. Or for a less expensive and more social option you can check out meetup in your area. You can find a group doing practically anything you can imagine. Plus, if you head to a class or meetup, you’re bound to make some new friends as well. I mean, I’m not saying you need to replace your old couch potato friends, I’m saying the more the merrier! Exercise classes and meetups can be a great way to make friends as an adult which is always tough to begin with.
Exercising with other people just flat out feels good. Oh, and that 2 birds one stone thing I mentioned at the beginning… well it isn’t just about connecting with your friends. It’s about connecting period. Connection is one of the biggest factors in life and health expectancy! Exercising with other people is good for your body, mind, and soul. So, maybe I should’ve said 3 birds, one stone???
Reframe your Goals
Sometimes we get disheartened with exercise. You know, like when the scale isn’t moving, or we aren’t progressing as quickly as we’d like to! Oh… just me… didn’t think so!
Setting unrealistic goals or ones that don’t inspire us to continue on in the journey is undermining to our health in so many ways. This is true whether we’re talking about exercise or simply goals in general, so it’s time to put a stop to it.
If your exercise goals are losing weight, changing your appearance, or running a marathon (and you’re a beginner). You need to change your goal.
Break Up with your Scale & Measuring Tape
Weight loss is very erratic especially when exercising since this causes changes in body composition. Ever hear that muscle weighs more than fat? Well it doesn’t, but it does take up less space. That means if you’re building muscle (which is a common side effect of exercise) you’re likely to drop a size even if you haven’t lost a pound. Toss the scale, it’s unreliable, undermining, and SO not your friend! It isn’t an indication of your health or your progress!
Likewise get rid of the tape measure. While this is a better way of measuring progress it can still be misleading and it’s nearly impossible to measure the exact same place every week or month (or even from minute to minute). Why is running a marathon not the greatest goal? Well, it’s just too far out for a beginner. Try to break it down into something more do-able… you know, jog a block. Or maybe even, walk a block. Start where you’re at and focus on the next accomplishment not the hugest goal you can imagine.
Try These Alternatives
So, you may be wondering what some goals are you could set for yourself so you can measure your progress. Check these out…
- You’re doing your workout.
- Your workout is easier.
- You can do your workout with less modifications.
- You have energy to play with your kids.
- You’re intuitively eating healthier.
- Your energy level has increased.
- You seem to have more time on your hands (yes this is a real benefit of exercise).
- Your sleep is more restful.
- You feel accomplished.
- Your clothes fit better.
- You look forward to your workout and do it every day.
I could seriously go on all day! There are just so many options here. Chose something small. Make your goal the very next step. It’s SUPER fun to hit goals, even if they’re little ones!
Celebrate your Wins… as in ALL of Them
Now… here’s the most important tip of them all! When you hit those goals, no matter how small they are CELEBRATE them! Celebrate yourself!
Listen, we often think we need to accomplish something huge like losing 10 lbs or running a 5k to celebrate. This is just nonsense. Let me tell you why. You’re defining “big” wrong! If you don’t workout and now you do, that’s HUGE! That’s so incredibly big and important! And it deserves to be celebrated! If you can go up the stairs without being winded, you’ve changed your body and increased your health and life span. Again, HUGE!!! Stop defining big by comparing yourself to what others are capable of doing. Define big this way… “better than I was before!” Growth is hard! Anytime you do something, anything, that makes you better than you were before that’s ENORMOUS and deserves acknowledgement! Be proud of yourself! Few things feel better in life! Few things are more fun than celebrating ourselves and our accomplishments!
You’ve got this… close your computer and go do something fun to move your body!
What’s your favorite fun exercise?