How I motivate myself to exercise when I really can't be arsed
Hasn't lockdown and this whole coronavirus sitch made working out just that little bit harder? I remember when I saw people, at the beginning, posting about lockdown 'glow ups'. Glow ups?! GLOW UPS?! Hun, if I survive lockdown without talking to my plants and clearing my savings account by buying endless useless crap I'll be chuffed, let alone a complete physical transformation! But seriously, as if we didn't have enough to adjust to and deal with, we've had to find ways to motivate ourselves to keep moving, or get moving for some, whilst the gyms are closed.
At a time when comfort eating really lives up to its name and having the excuse that the gyms aren't open as a green light to kick back and relax, how have I kept myself so motivated to exercise? Well, darling, I'm just about to tell you.
The most important thing I have learned about exercise is that, above all, I need to enjoy it. Life is too short to be clock watching every second of a work out. Clock watching is strictly reserved for cooking when I'm very hangry. So, with this in mind, understanding what I do and do not enjoy has been an important exercise for me (no pun intended).
I (and I cannot stress this enough) HATE repetition. I cannot be doing with the same circuit, sequence or routine over and over again weeks and months on end. I think that's why I go off running after a while because there are only so many new routes I can take and my mind, before I even set off, is screaming 'BORINGGGGG!' By now, I know what I enjoy and what I certainly do not. I won't lie, I'm a complete sucker for a fitness class. Boxfit or body combat? Let's get punching (just let me conjure up images of people that annoy me first). Body pump? Pass me the weights. HIIT classes? Get that timer started. But, I have to say, not all classes lure me into the room. Spin? Can't think of anything less boring than sitting in the same place for 45 minutes while my arse gradually goes numb. Zumba? No chance - unlike Kaiserchief's profess in their song, I was not born to be a dancer. Swimming? Bit dull going back and forth really, isn't it?
One size doesn't fit all when it comes to exercise and that's why we are lucky to have so many options available to us nowadays - even more so now with everything going virtual. You want something that puts a smile on your face (as much as exercise can) so if you haven't found anything you enjoy just yet, keep searching.
Some people love structure but, as we have already established, I hate repetition (says the girl who dates the same kind of guys and gets the same result...) This means that I'm not afraid to mix up my weekly workout schedule. I like to hit my brain with a few surprises, keep it on it's feet, ya know? When it thinks, 'hey, it's a Monday which will mean I'm doing HIIT', I like to be like 'surprise, Hun! Not this week!' It thanks me in the long run when I'm not bored to death, praying for the session to end.
Another very important lesson I've learned is to let go of the expectation that every workout session is going to be a 10/10 training day or the day I smash my PB. Every day is different and there are so many factors that can have an impact on my performance - from how much sleep I had the night before and what I ate and drank that day, to where I am in my menstrual cycle. Talking of periods (yes, PERIODS - ya know, those things we whisper like it's a naughty word), I never realised until recently just how much of an impact it can have on your ability to exercise. Seriously, research it. We should, according to some experts, be tailoring our workouts to where we are in our cycle rather than working against it. So, let's take the pressure off ourselves and learn to adapt to how we are feeling, that's what I say. Can only cope with a 3 mile run today? Better than sacking it off completely, isn't it?
Signing up to classes with a friend is another great way to get my arse moving. Being held accountable for needing to be somewhere at a specific time helps to give me that extra little push to get out the door. I don't know about you, but I really hate letting people down. So, organising plans with friends means I'm much more likely to stick to the arrangements. Plus, I enjoy having someone to laugh with when I end up doing something incredibly clumsy like fall over a kettlebell (yes, I've done that before).
And finally, as simple as this sounds, I try to remember the benefits. Exercise really is good for us (just in case you didn't get the memo) and even if we only get moving for 30 minutes, it will have lasting benefits on our body. Love yourself enough to want to keep your heart, lungs and all your other vital organs healthy. And don't get me started on the benefits for your mental health. Open up your arms and embrace that seratonin, kids.
I'm not going to lecture you about how good exercise is for you because I know it's easier for some to embrace physical activity than others. But hopefully my advice gives you the little nudge you need next time you're struggling to motivate yourself. And hey, the more we exercise the more we can eat, right? That's what I like to tell myself anyway.