Recharge Your Exercise Motivation
More Weight-Loss Motivation TipsYou Think: "Classes like Spinning and boot camp seem too intense for me."
Rethink: "That guy in bike shorts doesn't look so tough."
"Usually, we're afraid of the unknown," Petrie says, so testing the waters first will eventually allow you to dive in. Observe a class from the warm-up and beyond rather than peek in at the midpoint, when the action is sweatiest and most intimidating.
Redo: Go at your own pace
"The great thing about Spinning is that you control your experience," says instructor Kimberly Fowler, founder of YAS Fitness Centers in California. "If the instructor tells you to turn up the resistance, go to where you feel you can keep up; then if you get tired, lower it." (Psst! Those classmates who look like Lance Armstrong are probably doing the same.) In any group exercise class, your main goal is to get the hang of it, so aim for form over speed.You Think: "Exercising at home is my only option: blechhh."
Rethink: "There's no place like home -- to get a hot body."
First, identify what would give you the willpower to stay off the couch, "then make a plan to get you in the right frame of mind to commit to exercise," Petrie says. Put your workout clothes on so you know that exercising is the next thing to do after you fulfill your obligations, he says, whether those involve feeding the cat after work or taking the kids to school in the morning. Then create a workout schedule with built-in accountability: Recruit a friend to do fitness DVDs with on specific days or join a walking or running club (rrca.org) that meets regularly.
Redo: Order takeout
Beam a trainer to your living room for a fraction of the in-gym cost. At sites like fitorbit.com ($9.99 a week and up), trainers give you the drill-sergeant (or cheerleader or buddy) treatment by means of e-mail and their personal Web pages. Even celeb trainers, like Kim Lyons (kimlyons.com), formerly of The Biggest Loser, see clients via Internet sites. You can also get a customized routine and diet from FITNESS's online Personal Trainer that progressively challenges you on your way to Slimville ($39.99 for three months, $8.99 a month thereafter; or the free 10-day trial).
Rethink: "Who'll be eliminated tonight on The Bachelorette?"
"Dedicate your treadmill time to doing things that you normally can't, such as watching your favorite TV show or listening to a new playlist or podcast," Petrie says. Start a few minutes before showtime so you'll be inspired to push past the 30-minute barrier to see how the episode ends.
Redo: Save the rest for last
Plan your workout so the end is all downhill, so to speak. In a study at the Department of Health and Exercise Science at the College of New Jersey in Ewing, treadmillers who did higher-intensity followed by lower-intensity exercise burned more fat and felt that their workouts were less stressful than when the order was reversed. Try it yourself on any cardio machine with this 45-minute plan from Los Angeles-based personal trainer Michael Berg.
The first 25 minutes: Warm up for five minutes at an easy pace. Then increase your speed to a moderate intensity, and for the next 20 minutes, up the incline or resistance 1 percent every two minutes.
The last 20 minutes: Lower the setting to an incline or resistance level that's comfortable but slightly challenging and do it for 15 minutes. Follow with a five-minute cool-down at an easy pace with the incline set on zero.You Think: "I simply can't shake the after-work energy slump to exercise."
Rethink: "Just 10 minutes."
"There's a difference between being mentally tired and being physically tired," the University of Kentucky's Miller says. "Doing something physical will actually help combat some of the mental fatigue." Try Miller's trick to get your noggin on board: Tell yourself that you're not going to do more than 10 minutes of exercise. Often this leads to extending the time once you get into it, he notes. In a study at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, doing 10 minutes of moderate exercise, such as light pedaling on a stationary bike, was enough to improve mood and fatigue levels.
Redo: Stack the deck in your favor
Make the path home go through your gym, Miller suggests; not only will the sight of exercisers spark you to move, but you'll capitalize on the momentum of not having parked yourself on the recliner post-work. Also, have an alternative workout you can switch to if you're not feeling up to your usual routine or if you miss a class: Leave a workout DVD in the player at home or keep your yoga mat at the ready. Women in a study at Columbia University who had a written plan B exercised twice as much as those who didn't.
Originally published in FITNESS magazine, June 2010.
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