Wednesday, July 22, 2015

How to make exercise a part of your life

Ever have those days when you're not in the mood to workout? How about those seasons in life where it takes so much energy to push past the workout dread? Exercise is a word some people despise and other people praise. But a workout out doesn't have to be a chore. It can be an experience you can enjoy and perhaps even learn to love.

When I initially got seriously into running about a year and a half ago, I never thought I would come to love it as much as I do now. Running my first half marathon taught me so much about myself and how much I appreciate the body and my health. Having my health is something I don't want to take for granted, and working out has pushed me in ways I didn't even realize were possible. With that said, I also understand that running might not be for everyone. And that's okay! As Amy Poehler puts it, "Good for you, not for me."  Such a good reminder when we're caught in a comparison mode OR in agony over the whys if we don't like something. 

But today I want to talk about stepping into a routine. Finding an activity you enjoy and allowing it to become a part of your life. So step one of working out is about finding something that's going to give you movement and you like (or could like) doing. Exercise sometimes comes with this negative connotation, but it doesn't necessarily mean you have to spend an hour running on a treadmill or elliptical to have a good workout. One activity I have come to love is kayaking. In fact I took a friend out last weekend on her first kayak experience and she told me how amazed she was. There was sun, water, and exercise. To top it all off it was something we could do together. 

So think about what would be some activities you would want to commit to. I personally love having variety. It helps give my body a rest and keeps things more interesting. Usually my activities range from running, biking, kayaking, yoga, or dancing. And that doesn't mean I complete them all in one week, but it does allow me choices, especially if I'm burning myself out of one. So step one is having a selection of activities you would want to try.

Once you have an idea of what you want, I have found it much easier having a plan of action. Deciding which workouts I will commit to during the week. Like anything we do, or don't do for that matter, we have a chance to form habits. The first way to form a habit in exercise is being consistent with your workouts. Going in with a description of what you will do on what days of the week helps keep yourself accountable and reach your goals. One thing I do if I'm stuck in a rut is tell someone, like my husband, what I plan to do the following day. That way I hold myself accountable to others when they ask how my runs, rides, etc., went.  It gives me motivation, especially during those times I'm feeling the workout blues. 

As you practice consistency with your days it's also important (at least initially) to aim for consistent times of day. For example, I do best when I workout in the mornings. Personally if I wait later in the day I run the risk of not doing it all together. Not to mention I enjoy the awesome feeling of starting a day getting a good sweat out of the way. When I practiced consistency with my days and times of my workouts, I found my body and mind responded in positive ways and I began to crave that experience. After all, working out carries numerous benefits, including a natural way to release endorphins. Chemicals released in your body after a work out, responsible for boosts in mood, and reduces your perception of pain. Studies have shown working out helps alleviate depression, ward off anxiety, and enhances positive experiences. So as you incorporate exercise into a weekly routine, you start to form a habit and can become an observer of yourself. Seeing all the positive benefits you personally experience as a result. 

When you get in your groove maybe think about signing up for something that requires training. As I mentioned earlier, when I started running I signed up for a half marathon, which gave me something to work towards. Whether it be a community bike ride, running race, or pilates class, find something that will give you a carrot on the stick accountability and keep you motivated. Be sure to reward yourself as you reach your goals! There's nothing like some positive reinforcement to keep things moving forward. And remember, listen to your body!

What are your thoughts on exercise? What do you like to do for workouts? How do you get through your workout dreads and stay motivated? 


  1. I got into the habit of changing into my gym clothes immediately after work. That way, even if I relax for a little while, I know I am still going to the gym. You are a lot less likely to put it off or make an excuse if you are already ready to go :)

    1. Totally true! Such as great idea. That way you're all set and ready to go without having fight through the battle of gathering everything together. Instead you can have more accountability. Good suggestion!

  2. Great tips here, Ash! I definitely agree that you have to find a routine that works for you doing something you enjoy. Exercise is NOT enjoyable and sustained if its a chore. It works well for me to mix things up with my runs and have my gear all ready for me in the morning so when my alarm goes off all I have to do is get ready quick before heading out.

    1. Absolutely! Movement is key when it unlocks the door to what you enjoy. So many people believe working out has to be a dread when you you can find something that works for you and go with it. I agree with the AM routine. Having everything ready to go makes it much easier and starts your day off right.