So you’re not a workout person. The idea of lifting weights doesn’t put a smile on your face, and you’d rather clean your entire house than go for a jog – I feel you. That was me about 1 year ago. Then, things changed and I’m going to share with you what happened.
Luckily, even the least workout oriented person can get motivated with few strategies. Trust me, if I can do it, you can do it. I understand that motivating yourself to work out can be a huge challenge; you get home from a long day and you think “hand me the remote” not “hand me the dumbbell”. But we also all know that living an active life is important, and will make us happier in the long run (apologies for the accidental pun…if you can spot it). So how can we motivate ourselves? I want to offer you more strategies than just “joining a fun new fitness trend” or “getting an app”- all ideas I have heard countless times that never worked for me. Below is a quick synopsis of my laziness and the strategies that I’ve used over the past year to make this working out thing work for me. I am confident these will work for you, too – trust me, you can’t out-lazy Melissa Maker.
My Working Out Rollercoaster
For about 17 years, I’ve had an on-again, off-again (and almost all hate) relationship with the gym. I started working out in high school with some friends at a local women’s gym. I despised it; the smell, the equipment, many of the rude people there but I went because I was obsessed with my weight. I never saw results, so eventually I gave up. When I was about to finish high school, I was dating a personal trainer who helped me with a workout program and I was able to work out at the gym we both worked at, free of charge. Still weight-obsessed, I didn’t get the results I wanted and felt dissuaded to continue, despite seeing all the fit people (and boyfriend) breeze through the gym doors. In university, I worked out at the student gym – but all of the kinestheology students were in way better shape than me and I was too lazy to walk across campus to get there. Oh well. After that, I started working full time, so it was the perfect excuse to never work out. I gained a bit of weight and wasn’t happy about it, but had zero motivation to do anything. Over the years since opening my businesses, I’ve tried everything from Pilates (love, but so expensive), to Yoga (love, just got bored with the same routine), to Zumba (hated, 30 70 year old ladies were kicking my ass), swimming (ruins my hair and way too much maintenance LOL), boxing (the gym was too dirty – oy vey)….and the list goes on. Seriously, there are about 20 more things I tried and never made work. Do you see? Every single thing had an excuse. So I found myself in a rut; I knew I was getting older and I want to feel strong and healthy and be fit and mobile for my entire life. However if I don’t work at it, nothing will ever happen. I had to make a choice – I had to do it differently this time. I had to make a plan and stick to it. Here’s how I called my own bluff and got over the web of lies and excuses surrounding my working out issues:
If you get ready for the gym before the time comes, you’ll have one less excuse for not going. Being prepared for a workout can also help you optimize it in important ways. Here’s what I do to eliminate any last-minute preparedness issues from my artillery of excuses.
Schedule It In
Scheduling in your workout ahead of time, and I mean days in advance, can really help you stay on track. Perhaps your gym asks you to register for a class online ahead of time (my gym requires you to do this via an app). At first I thought it was whack, but now I love it. It keeps me accountable and makes me think about my workouts as they pertain to my schedule ahead of time. Once I schedule a class via the app, it automatically goes into my phone’s calendar, and if something comes up during the week I’ll either move the workout or book the other appointment around my workout. What gets scheduled, gets done. If your gym doesn’t require it, make it a requirement for yourself. Put it in your calendar and make it non-negotiable. Further, if you can do this for a month it will start to become routine, and that’s your golden ticket.
Prep the Night Before
Pack or lay out everything: clothing, snacks, toiletries. Have it kitted out and ready to go so that you can slip into your clothing quickly and get moving. This helps me in the early morning when I *really* don’t want to leave the house (especially in the winter). My stuff’s already out, so I have no excuse to skip a workout. I gather my workout socks, a pair of underwear, weightlifting gloves, sports bra, heart rate monitor, tank and leggings and pile them on my bathroom counter before bed. When I get up the next morning to go to the bathroom (at 6:20 nonetheless), I brush and wash up, change and walk to my kitchen to grab a pre-work out snack. By the time I leave my bedroom, I am in gym mode.
Eat Before You Go
Don’t eat like a horse, but have a healthy snack. I usually have a few crackers and a teaspoon of nut butter or a small fruit and 8 almonds. No food means no energy and you’ll be one miserable son of a gun at the gym. Plus, an extra snack is excitement enough for me to go to the gym. Ha! #truecolours
Eliminate the Slip-Ups
Making a little mistake here and there (in working out terms, that means missing a gym visit or three), isn’t a big deal, but it will become one if there’s no way to get back on track. So, here are some of the common traps to falling out of a workout routine, and how I have chosen to avoid them.
The Dangers of a Workout Buddy
Buddy or no buddy? Frankly, I don’t rely on a workout buddy. I rely on myself, because I know how easy it is for me to agree with someone who doesn’t want to go to the gym on one day. And once that happens, I am easily thrown off track. But, there are people at my gym who work out together religiously and it works well for them. So do it if it makes sense for you but beware of the trap: if you are easily swayed by someone’s desire to not attend the gym, don’t pair up with them. Count on yourself.
Get Back on Track After a Break
Getting back on track after being sick or on holiday is very difficult but very important. This was a giant sinkhole for me in the old days; I’d get a cold and it was bye, Felicia to my gym routine, for good. In May while travelling for 3 weeks, despite packing my gear and telling myself I’d do it, I worked out twice. I had every intention of doing it the same frequency I did at home, but you know what, it just didn’t happen. To make sure I didn’t fall out of the pattern when I got back, before I got home from the trip I booked myself a month’s worth of classes just to make sure I didn’t have an excuse. And when I started going back, I needed a few classes to ‘catch up’ but after that I was back to my old self and my old routine. It felt so good to do that, because in the past, I’d just not go. So when you feel yourself in a slump, whether it be from a vacation or a cold, make a plan for getting out of it and back on track as soon as possible.
Pick times that work for you and your schedule
You won’t all of a sudden become a morning person just because you want to start working out in the morning. If you set yourself up for a class or time slot that doesn’t fir your schedule or energy level, you won’t go. And if you do, you’ll rue the gym the whole time you are there. Rather, pick a time that suits your schedule and your energy level so you have less reason to say ‘no’ to going. Go when you most feel like it and when you know you have the time to.
Easiest way to disappoint yourself? Set your goals way too high.
Set Achievable Goals
Most people don’t look like IG models after working out for 3 months. What I have decided is to drop the garbage about ‘looking a certain way’ after a certain amount of time at the gym. All I know is, when I am sweating and my heart is beating like crazy, I am pushing my body to do challenging things and that is building up my strength, bones, muscles and stamina and that in and of itself is worth it. If I burn a few calories, great (on average I’ll burn about 300-400 per class, which is fine but nothing extraordinary). I realized that pushing myself to be an Olympian isn’t what I like to do (those people look way more buff than I do and burn way, way more calories per class than me), but attending the class and at least breaking a sweat is good enough. Anything else and I start to make myself crazy; my focus is just on feeling healthy and strong and showing up. Nothing else.
Don’t Look at Instagram
Don’t look at IG pictures of transformation stories – want the quickest way to be demotivated or feel like crap about yourself? Look up transformation stories or fitness models on IG. Just do what you can do, be proud of your OWN accomplishments and let other people focus on their own thing. The same goes for comparing yourself to other people at the gym. I go because I want to feel good and proud of myself, not because I want to look like someone else. Delete those profiles if you know what’s good for you. They’re toxic for your mind.
Don’t Over Track Progress
What I mean is, don’t become numbers-obsessed. It’s not worth the craziness – they wanted me to weigh and measure in for a body composition every two weeks and I got so nervous (why?) and worked up about the numbers. It was crazy-making. I’ll do one maybe once every 3 months just to see where I am at, but I feel comfortable at that interval. If you know it’s going to make you to constantly track numbers or make you feel worse about yourself, just don’t do it. Your focus should just be on getting there, enjoying yourself and being proud of what you can do, not the numbers.
Don’t blame the gym
If you’re trying to lose weight, remember that about 80% of your weight loss (or gain) efforts come from the kitchen and not the gym. Get the idea of going to the gym to lose weight out of your brain. The two are fourth cousins; hardly related. Go to the gym because you want to feel good and be strong. If you want to lose weight, look at what you’re eating.
Find the Fun
I used to think there wasn’t ANY fun in working out, it was literally the most miserable thing anyone could do. But that’s changed and now I’ve found several ways to bring joy into my fitness mix.
Get Workout Clothes You Love
Get clothes that you like, look good in, are comfortable and fit properly – bras, shoes, leggings etc. Save a bit and treat yourself to something you know you’ll be proud to wear. For example, I updated my sports bras because my old ones had me jiggling around like a pole dancer (no thanks). I bought proper ankle socks with rubber ankle grips so they wouldn’t slip off and sink under my heel while working out (blister city), and I bought a good pair of weight lifting gloves from the Nike outlet because having calloused hands is never en vogue. For workout clothing, I like to wait until things go on sale and then go nuts – my go-to place is the Gap. I really like their fitness gear. My old stuff was not cute and didn’t serve the purpose I needed it to. Now when I go to the gym, I am properly supported for the workout I do and look good while I am doing it.
Make Friends at The Gym
People at the gym are there because they are similar-minded to you; they like working out when you do, and well, they like working out. I’m not saying you have to go for coffee with these people, but smile, wave or say ‘good morning’ to people you see at the gym on the regular. It’s so nice to walk into my gym and see the same old morning regulars. We all know each other, enjoy quickly catching up and giving each other ‘the look’ while the trainer is killing us with some insane workout. We also encourage each other. I don’t see any of them outside of the gym, but between the trainers who I have come to know, the girl that works at the front desk and my morning people, I have my own little tribe at the gym and I really like it. This totally helps me get there and be happy at 7 AM.
Be Amazed at Your Body
When I am doing hideous weighted walking lunges, or a sleigh pull, or push ups, or a 500 meter row, rather than cursing in my head and waiting until the last rep, I tell myself how amazing it is that my body works the way it does and how much strength I’ve built up. Rather than being miserable while doing it (which is my old MO), I know now to focus on feeling great about myself instead. It really does help. I am truly proud of what I can now do at the gym.
Find What You Enjoy
Find what you truly LOVE doing (or at least, like doing). As I shared above, I have tried many, many types of classes and programs. Eventually, after joining a monster gym in my area (they liked to get 50 people into one class…), I bailed and decided to try a small boutique gym by my house, albeit more expensive. As it turned out, I really love going there. It’s small, not too busy, and the classes are amazing – they are challenging and only allow up to 5 people per class. The classes are strength and cardio focused. They involve kettle bells, rowing machines, treadmills, lifting large amounts of weight, pushing sleds, jumping on boxes, climbing ropes, you name it. While it’s not what I envisioned I would do, I have come to really enjoy these classes and I don’t really want to do anything else. My point is, it can be a long journey until you find the right fitness style for you, but it’s an important journey to go on. You may end up with a workout you love and are excited about doing – and that’s amazing.
Let me know your workout journey and what has and has not worked for you!