Top Ten Tips to Get the most Out of Your Workout
“Change happens when you’re uncomfortable. Are you going to quit, or are you going to get uncomfortable? That’s what I thought.” Jillian Michael’s points at me through the television set reminding me daily that anything worthwhile is going to take work. If I want results, I have to put in the effort, not just with a workout plan, but in every aspect of my life.
Here are some tips that I have found helpful to keep me motivated and accountable for my own health and fitness.
Tip 1: Make fitness a part of your daily routine. As a teacher in college, my peers and I learned the benefit of procedures and routines for students. When students have clear expectations, the environment is primed for them to learn. It’s the same for our bodies. When we train ourselves to perform certain activities, they become a part of what we do. For example, if you are accustomed to eating lunch at noon, but if you forget your lunch one day, it’s inevitable that around twelve, your belly is going to start grumbling and that nagging hungry feeling is going to come. Set a time and decide on what days you will work out at the beginning of the week and stick with it. Let’s be honest, if you don’t plan it, it won’t happen
Tip 2: Make exercise a priority. Research has proven over and over again how beneficial exercise is not only to your physical health, but also to your mental health. I don’t need research to give me the statistics either. For me, the proof is in the pudding so to speak. When I exercise, my joint and muscle pain is less. It’s counterintuitive, but it’s true. I have the beginning stages of arthritis, but when I stay moving, I actually have less pain. In addition, my well-being is better. In essence, I’m a nicer Michelle. I never pretend to be a morning person, but I workout in the morning because my kids are asleep and it’s the only time I have. The best advice I can give someone who doesn’t know me is to wait until after I’ve begun working out to have a conversation with me.
Tip 3: Overcome excuses. There will always be a reason not to do something. Almost every morning I feel too tired. I imagine pushing the snooze button and sleeping for another hour, but I don’t. I’ve had people ask me to try to help them by contacting them to keep them accountable. Sometimes it works for the first couple of days, but inevitably something deters them from their plan. One time it was a sunburn. The following day the excuse was still the sunburn. The next day it was the fact that they the person hadn’t worked out the two previous days, so she should likely wait until the next Monday. One excuse can lead to others. If you are feeling a little badly for whatever reason, I still recommend light exercise. You can just modify it for the day, but don’t abandon the routine entirely if you can help it.
Tip 4: Make yourself accountable. There are many different ways to hold yourself accountable. You could get a workout partner. My jogging partner is my German Shepherd. She always does her “business” on our morning jogs, so I tell myself that it’s imperative that I take her. At least I tell myself that. A human workout partner works just as well if not better, and with a human, you won’t have to stop for them to do their “business.” If that doesn’t work, ask someone to text or call you to confirm whether or not you’ve done your workout. For some, having a gym membership can also be beneficial. When you spend money on something, it can make you feel more compelled to make use of the money you’ve spent. If that doesn’t work, you can make a calendar and give yourself a star every day you keep your workout routine. That is the teacher in me talking.
Tip 5: Use positive self talk. It’s so easy to be critical of ourselves. We’re all guilty of putting ourselves down. This is an area that I have really had to work on improving, and as always, I continue to be a work in progress. I am by nature a perfectionist, so in the past, I have been really mean to myself. Then I saw a quote that really resonated with me. “If you wouldn’t say it to your daughter, don’t say it to yourself.” Reread that last line; it’s powerful. On a daily basis, remind yourself of the things you are good at, achievements you’ve made, and things you are proud of. Accept your flaws as parts of you that make you unique and give yourself credit for all the amazing things you do.
Tip 6: Set goals you have control over. I am a believer in setting lofty goals and having high expectations. That being said, I know how disappointing it is to work hard and fall short. While failing to meet your goals is a learning experience, in the case of fitness I find it more beneficial to make the end goal one you can control and allow the physical results to speak for themselves. When I add anything to my fitness program, my goal is not to lose weight or inches. I have no control over that. What I can control is how often I workout and how hard I exert myself. Instead of having a goal to lose ten pounds in four weeks, make your goal to workout for a half hour or more at least six days a week. You might be surprised to discover that after that time, you have lost some weight. But be careful, weight is deceiving. When I tell others how much I weigh, they are often surprised. As you build muscle, your weight may remain constant, but you will look and feel more toned. I don’t weigh myself often. Instead, I focus on how I look and feel and how my clothes fit.
Tip 7: Focus on you and resist the urge to compare yourself to others. One of the most detrimental things you can do is compare yourself to others. I have also fallen victim wishing I had attributes of someone else. I have always been self conscious of my legs. They aren’t as long and thin as I would like. No matter what I try, I have never been able to accomplish the thin leg look, so I’ve come to accept the thinker legs I have, and to be honest, some people tell me they like my legs. So sometimes, what we see as a flaw in ourselves, someone else sees as a attribute. I’ve had women approach me and say they want to look like me and I explain to them that they should’t aim to look like me. Instead, they should focus on being the best version of themselves. The grass always seems greener on the other side.
Tip 8: Learn from failures. From personal experience, I know that I have gained a lot of wisdom from mistakes I’ve made. My shortcomings help me see what I want and don’t want to repeat for the future. So if you don’t workout for a week, don’t assume you’ve failed and give up. Instead, pick yourself up, and start putting in the work. Then the next time you consider taking a workout vacation, remember how it felt the last time and don’t repeat the same mistake. We are all a work-in-progress.
Tip 9: Reward yourself, but not with food. Get excited when you achieve your goals! Treat yourself to something special, and although it’s tempting, try not to let the treat be food. It’s so easy to think that since you completed a tough workout, you should be able to eat lots of extra food. I challenge you to not fall into that trap. If you continue to eat the same, but work out, you should still see results, but if you continuously reward yourself with extra food because you exercised, all your hard work will be negated. Brainstorm other ways to treat yourself. Personally, I would reward myself with a twenty minute nap or maybe a new bikini...whatever works for you.
Tip 10: Make the workout work for you. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. For any workout plan to be most effective, it has to make sense for your lifestyle. You might have to try different plans, you might fail a few times, but I have faith that if you commit to making lasting fitness changes, you will benefit in the long run.
If there was an easy to way to stay fit, everyone would do it. That’s just not the case. So, get out there, forget about being perfect, put in the work and watch yourself transform.
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