Staying motivated with your exercise routine
-Marni Rakes-Sumbal, M.S.
Your alarm goes off at 5:30 a.m. For the past 5 days, without hesitation, you got out of bed, put on your running shorts and headed to gym for a quality workout. But today, however, you are in a slump and you are frustrated. No motivation to exercise. You think to yourself, all of that Iron Girl training down the drain.
Not to worry! Even the most dedicated athletes, professional or not, has his/her good and bad days. Maybe you are bored with routine, stressed from work or tired from trying to squeeze in 36 hours into a 24 hour day. Whatever the reason, use the following tips to stay motivated with your old or new exercise routine.
1. Set realistic and practical, short term and long term goals.
Ex. Short term - Walk 2 miles a day, at least 4 days a week for the next 3 weeks. Do 100 crunches a day, first thing in the morning for the next 10 days. Long term - Participate in an Iron Girl 5K race and finish in less than 40 minutes. Participate in a 10K race in 2 months.
2. Be consistent before changing your routine.
Ex. Strength train for 3 days a week, 2 sets of 10 repetitions. After 2 weeks, increase weight by 5-10 lbs and perform 3 sets of 12-15 reps. Ex. Walk 45 min. a day for 2 weeks. For the next 2 weeks, jog for 20 min, then walk for 25 min.. For the next 2 weeks, run for 15 min., walk for 15 min, then run for 15 min. Try to exercise at least 5 times per week.
3. Vary your workout routine every few days, and every few weeks, to prevent boredom.
Ex. Participate in spin classes, aerobic classes and yoga classes during the week. Alternate between circuit training and weight training. Use the treadmill, stationary bike, rowing machine and elliptical instead of just walking on the treadmill.
4. Choose activities which you enjoy.
Ex. Participate in a kick boxing class instead of running on the treadmill. Walk on the beach or by a lake first thing in the morning instead of going to the gym right after work. Play tennis instead of weight training. Go to spin class at night instead of riding your bike first thing in the morning.
5. Make physical activity part of your routine but be flexible with your routine.
Ex. Exercise first thing in the morning when excuses are minimal. If you are too tired to go to the gym one morning, do a few sets of crunches, squats and jumping jacks before you leave for work. Schedule workouts like you would schedule any important task in your life. If you don't feel like working out on Monday, enjoy the day off and look forward to Tuesday for a fresh and revitalized body.
6. Get creative with your activity.
Ex. Walk during lunch breaks. Walk up and down stairs instead of using an elevator. Keep a set of gym clothes and shoes in your car for a quick stop at the gym after work or a jog at a park on your way home from work. Do weight training during commercial breaks when you watch TV. Involve your kids and go for a walk, hike or bike ride. Read magazines or watch your favorite TV show when you ride the stationary bike or walk/run on the treadmill. Come to work early and walk around the building for 30 min.
7. Involve friends and develop a support system.
Set goals with your friends. Sign up for races together. Share your strengths and weakness and help each other overcome obstacles.
8. Boost the intensity of your workouts.
Ex. Add intervals of high intensity and low intensity during workouts. Don't be afraid to sweat and increase the heart rate. Quality workouts can be a mix of long workouts (1 hour spin classes at the gym) or short workouts (3 x 4 min run, w/ 5 min walk). To reap the many benefits of exercise, workouts do not have to be 100% hard, strenuous and vigorous all the time. Challenge yourself to get out of your comfort zone as you workout at an intensity which is comfortable.