If you think exercising sucks, you are not alone. I have been exercising for 15 years and I have gone through plenty of periods where I just dreaded going to the gym. Fortunately, my commitment motivated me to find creative ways (though some may be obvious) to make exercise more enjoyable for myself. Here are a few of my favorite tricks that I’ve learned along the way to make exercising NOT suck:
1. Listen to Good Music – For the music lovers (and likers and indifferenters) out there, this is such a simple way to get yourself out of your head (“I can’t do this,” “This is so boring,” “Maybe I’ll just do half of my workout today”) and just moving. What kind of music works best? It’s different for everyone, but while there are literally thousands of “workout mixes” readily available online, I recommend going through your own music library and picking some dated albums that remind you of a time in your life when you were happy, something that when you hear it you can’t help but smile or that brings you to a different time in your life.
2. Watch Some Trashy TV – I am one of those weird people who doesn’t have cable or watch much TV at all. And this is why I actually enjoy doing cardio at the gym… I get to watch all of the scandalous, addictive shows that my heart desires there! If you don’t have TVs at your gym, try watching on your phone or on a tablet or iPad. Seriously. The trashier, the better.
3. Do It in Nature – When the weather is kind (and this opinion varies person to person), try exercising outside! The fresh air is invigorating, the sunlight is good for you, and the scenery is superior to what you see in the gym (though *cough* there are a few trainers and members that make the view a little awe-inspiring).
4. Get a Workout Buddy – Everything is better with a friend, especially exercising. Having someone to workout with is not only a nice distraction, but it’s also a great motivating factor and provides built-in accountability (you’ll go if they go)!
5. Dress to Not Stress – There’s nothing worse than needing to pull, yank and adjust your clothes with every step you take, so do yourself a favor… invest in some comfortable workout gear! Tops and bottoms that fit comfortably are crucial, and don’t forget good sports bra and great sneakers.
6. Set Goals You Can Actually Accomplish – What feels better than telling yourself, “Ok, this week I’m going to move my body for 10 minutes on Wednesday and Sunday” and actually doing it? When your goals are small (because too lofty can be too overwhelming) and realistic (sure you may fantasize about getting up at 4:45am Mon-Fri to get in a 2 hour-long workout in, but will you?) you have a better chance of accomplishing them! Ask yourself “What do I want to do?” and “What seems reasonable?”
7. Find YOUR Trainer – When you find the RIGHT trainer for YOU, exercise can go from dreadful to inspiring! Your trainer will get the way you operate. She or he will encourage you, teach you, respect your boundaries, and hold the space for you to grow (or shrink). If you hate boot camp, find a trainer who prefers to train people gently, and vice-versa. Want a body transformation? Try a trainer who has gone through the same kinds of changes. Like to laugh, find a trainer with a good sense of humor. Similar to the workout buddy, a trainer that’s a goof fit for you can totally shift your experience!
8. Forget About Losing Weight – What?!? Yup. Just forget about it. If your only reason to exercise is to lose weight, chances are exercising will feel like work instead of pleasure. How in the F do I do that? I know. I’ve been there and it’s a tough shift. The key is being present with how you feel both during and after your workout. If you can make that feeling your motivation instead of the scale, you, my friend, are on the path to sustainable exercise!
9. Get Body-Positive – Lately I’ve found little that makes me feel better about myself than the body-positive movement. Finally, people are coming together and saying, “All bodies are loveable, acceptable and beautiful,” and the people saying it are literally of every shape, size, color and ability. How will this make exercising not suck? Well, if you aren’t preoccupied with hating on your body, you’ll have more energy to devote to, say, enjoying moving it!
10. Self-Care – This one is so important. When exercising is an act of self-care, you are nourishing your Whole Self (body, mind, spirit). Rigid goals become gentler, time moves more peacefully, it becomes easier to be present, and progress comes from love, not fear. Sounds good, huh? It is!
What do you do to make exercising not suck? Comment below!