You look out your window and think, “I’d hate to get my new trainers wet in this rain”. You’re working late and feel torn by the choice between a quick stop-off at the gym or settling onto the sofa just in time for a spot of TV. Your stomach’s rumbling and you’re far too hungry to manage your planned lunchtime workout. If you’re guilty of making these or any other exercise-evading excuses, use these 12 positive reinforcements to keep your workout regime on track.
1. Know that every workout missed is a rest day lost. Just as you make it into the office five days a week, or care for your children seven days a week, make a fixed agreement with yourself to meet a weekly exercise quota. If, for whatever reason, you can’t make Monday’s workout, Wednesday’s rest day becomes your make-up workout day. All the better if that makes you more reluctant to miss Monday’s.
2. Watch your fittest girl crush on YouTube. If I’m ever tempted to choose a Family Size Dairy Milk in place of a circuits session, I mull over my decision while watching She Wolf by Shakira. 20 seconds in and I’m already reaching for my trainers.
3. Surround yourself with plenty of social media #fitspiration. My feed regulars include @kaylaitsines, @DeliciouslyElla, @catbradleyyoga, @thebodycoach, @ballerinaproject_, @kaliburns and @sweatybetty, all of whom fill my screen with pictures, advice and mottos to keep me motivated. Better yet, contribute to others’ feeds with your own #fitspiration and become a fit role model – suddenly it’s not just you depending on today’s workout.
4. Suffering with a case of general exercise boredom? Refresh your workout wardrobe so you’re eager to put your new kit to use. If you’re excited about getting dressed for a workout, you’re more likely to attend every session. Of course, a case of credit card debt is no solution, but wearing that pyjama top from 10 years ago simply won’t do either.
5. Make exercise a date, even if it’s only with yourself. I personally love exercising with friends, and find it a great way to catch up while burning calories instead of consuming them. But if you prefer to work out in solitude, map out your commitments on a calendar and make that alone time non-negotiable – just as you would a meeting or dinner date.
6. Book a class or sign up to an event. If you’re the flaky type and find that number 5 doesn’t work, up the ante by making a financial commitment. If you pay in advance for a class, there’s all the more obligation to get your money’s worth. Signing up for an event works too, giving you a fixed date in your calendar to train for – or else risk wasting the money you invested to sign up.
7. View exercise as a tool and not an obstacle for your work. Even I’m guilty of saying I’m too busy at work to squeeze in a lunchtime workout, but I have a much more productive afternoon every time I make it happen. There’s a reason for that. Exercise stimulates epinephrine and oxytocin production – hormones responsible for making you more attentive and reinforcing a positive attitude. Spreadsheet dramas? Get to the bottom of it with an active lunch break.
8. Plan rewards. Exercise doesn’t have to be a thankless task. Show your body a little appreciation for its hard work with small treats like a glass of chocolate milk after your workout. Don’t overdo it or you’ll negate your calories burned, but a bit of balance will help you keep up the momentum. Plus, post-workout is the best time to enjoy a sweet treat because your cells need the glucose and your metabolism is firing faster than ever.
9. Get your kit on and step outside. I often find I’m least excited about my workout when I’ve been stuck inside all day. The stuffy air makes me feel drowsy and low in energy, but there’s nothing like a dose of fresh air to reinvigorate the senses.
10. Try new things and do what you enjoy. Repeating the same old routine for weeks on end is bound to become boring, and even worse it will result in stagnant results as your body adapts to familiar demands. Keep an eye out for new gyms and studios, free classes and special events to stay inspired. And don’t feel like exercise has to be a chore. I’m personally a spin and bootcamp fanatic, but you’ll rarely see me in an aerobics class because I’m not much for waving my arms around. You, however, may be an undiscovered Zumba machine. You’ll have to experiment to find out…
11. Celebrate your progress and set new goals. If you don’t have a goal in mind, it can be hard to remember what you’re training for. I keep a note of personal bests across various exercises and activities so I can dedicate each workout to bettering at least one thing. When you’re just a kilo or two away from hitting that 40kg squat target, you’ll be counting down to your gym session…
12. Choose a convenient workout destination. In the past I’ve kept a locker at the gym with various belongings I need to collect throughout the week. This necessitates a visit to the gym, and encourages you to work out once you’re there! If you can’t do that, make sure it’s en route to your office or home so you can’t blame location when you’re on the fence about exercising. Alternatively, turn your commute into a workout. I’ve recently moved jobs to West London and have to travel all the way home to East London, but when I’m short on time I pack a rucksack and hop off at Westminster to jog the remaining 10K. A workout and commute in one!