How I Stay Motivated to Exercise

Top: Danskin Yoga; Bottoms: Active by Old Navy

Top: Danskin Yoga; Compression Pants: Active by Old Navy

 

I don’t have all the answers, but I know that creating habits help me stick to things that are important to me.  Like exercise.  These are 3 simple habits I’ve created that really help me stay motivated to workout.  I’ve found what works for me, but everyone is different.  Try one of these approaches if you feel a lack of motivation to exercise.

Exercise in the A.M. – I am not the type of girl to bounce out of bed at 6:00 a.m. like a warmed-up cheerleader, smile plastered on my face.  But I do vastly prefer to workout in the early morning.  Personally, I’ve found that in the past when I told myself I’d workout in the evening, I’d find any excuse not to – I had to cook dinner, I had to unwind, I had to help my daughter with her homework.  At 6 o’clock in the morning, there is nothing holding me back. Working out in the morning also enables me to check exercise off my “to-do” list, and I don’t have to think about it the rest of the day.

Invest in Workout Clothes – I’m not one to blatantly endorse mindless shopping. But when it comes to exercising, good workout clothes are not only incredibly practical, they can serve to help motivate you. If you try to stretch or get into a yoga position wearing baggy pants, it may not be as comfortable or as easy. I find that wearing form fitting exercise clothing is my favorite way to do Pilates and Yoga, that way I don’t have to worry about clothing pulling or hanging in awkward ways. Also, if I’m going to workout in the morning, I like to keep my clothes right by the bed so there is no excuse.  These are my favorite type of workout pants right now.

Mindfully Reflecting on How Far I’ve Come – This isn’t just a space filler.  This is really important.  Sometimes I just don’t want to pull out my yoga mat, but you know what?  Then I think about times in my life when I was less fit and more uncomfortable in my body and less flexible.  I don’t want to go down that road again.  I enjoy the health my body has.  I feel comfortable in my clothes and I enjoy seeing what my body can accomplish.

How do you stay motivated to exercise?

7 Ways I Lost Weight Naturally

An apple a day can help keep the pounds away

An apple a day can help keep the pounds away

Last winter, I packed on about 8 pounds – a lot for a medium build woman.  This 8 pounds was in addition to weight that I already wanted to lose.  Facing the scale is never easy, but in April, for the first time in a few months, I forced myself to see what I weighed.  It was then that I decided I was going to get my health back on track.

Since April, I’ve dropped over 25 pounds and about 12 inches. I am back to what I weighed as a freshman in college.  I feel so much better.  These are a few things I did to get myself in shape.

1) Delaying breakfast time – This might seem crazy since we know it’s healthy to have breakfast.  My issue was that I wake up by 6 a.m. and had breakfast, and then was starving by 10:00 and would have a snack.  Now I have lemon water and coffee at 6 a.m. and drink a green smoothie or yogurt at the office around 9 a.m., and I am full until lunch.  This was huge for me.

2) Portion control – When I forced myself to start portioning out my food and looking at what 300 calories was, I was shocked with how out of touch I’d become with my portions.  I had to re-learn healthy portions and it helped tremendously.

3) Hydration – Everyone seems to tell us to drink more water, but frankly sometimes water is just boring.  So in addition to drinking more water, I drink fruit-infused water and herbal tea with stevia.  It especially helps curb cravings in the afternoons.

4) Lots of veggies….and fresh fruit too– If you’re not a veggie lover, learn to become one!  I recently read an article that said we can train our brains to crave healthy food.  I actually do crave healthy foods more than junk and I really believe it’s because that’s what I’ve eaten for so long.  Vegetables are great for having a lot of volume for very few calories.  That means they really fill you up – more bang for your caloric buck. Fresh fruit is great for a sweet tooth as well as to give you a load of vitamins and antioxidants.  Fruit such as a whole orange gives you volume to fill you up without a lot of calories.  A fresh organic apple is something I have nearly everyday.

5) Moderate exercise – You have to find something you can actually stick to, and I did – Pilates.  I typically workout for 20-25 minutes about 5 days a week.  Nothing insane, but my body is so much more toned and strong for it.

6) Cutting out the whites – Which means no-no to breads, sugar, and most starches (such as white potatoes, pasta, and rice).  I will occasionally have a small potato, a bit of pasta, or one slice of Ezekiel bread, or a slice of pizza on a special occasion, but other than that, I steer clear of these foods.

7) Weekly weigh-in – Perhaps the most important for me personally is my dedication to weighing myself every week.  For some people this might not work, but for me, it has served as motivation and a personal challenge to meet goals.  It also helps me to see how far I’ve come when I look back at previous weeks.

I am not a medical or nutrition professional, these are merely some things that helped me lose weight.

What has helped you to lose weight naturally, or helped you to maintain a healthy weight?

Trying New Styles of Yoga

myyogamatThis is my much loved yoga mat.  I won’t replace it until I have to, because I’m frugal like that.  For me, mat work is the most rewarding and loved form of exercise I have ever done.  It can be challenging, fun, therapeutic, calming, mindful, and very rewarding.

I was all about Pilates until I had surgery in September and I turned to Yoga in the interim.  I am not new to Yoga, but it had been a while since I’d practiced.  I decided to try something low impact and opted for Yin Yoga, which focuses on long held poses that encourage relaxation.  This was a fantastic form of Yoga for me to practice close to bedtime as it felt good physically, but was also meditative.

I also tried Kripalu and Kundalini, which were new to me as well.  As I understand it, Kripalu, a gentle form of Hatha yoga, focuses on meditation, breath-work, and relaxation.  Kundalini includes breathing, chanting, and meditating.  This is just a very basic explanation of these forms of yoga, and to understand them better, I encourage you to do some reading on the different types of yoga. There are quite a few varieties.  I only scratched the surface of these three forms of yoga, drawn to them because they were described as being on the more gentle, healing, meditative side, which sounded perfect.

Although I enjoyed all three forms, my favorite by far is Yin Yoga.  For me, Yin Yoga has been an amazing discovery, as it not only is good for my body, but it is the most meditative and relaxing mind-body fitness I’ve ever come across.  I find it theraputic to practice Yin Yoga at night, as it is excellent to help unwind from the day and truly meditate while in the poses.  I hope to continue to explore Yin Yoga and understand it more thoroughly.

What forms of yoga do you enjoy the most?

When all else fails, just walk

sneakersDue to a recent surgery, my typical exercise routine is comatose for the next few weeks.  I am slightly devastated, I have to admit.  For several months, I was in an amazing rhythm of working out at least 5 mornings a week, doing a combination of Pilates, HIIT workouts, and Yoga.  I was in the best shape I’d been in for over a decade.  I was making so much progress, and I was loving my workout routines.

Then my surgery closed that door, forcing me to stop my regular workouts.  I can’t even lift over 5 pounds.  I can’t do ab work.  I couldn’t do a plank to save my life.  It’s really hard to come to terms, but I know it could be much worse.  This is not permanent, and eventually I will be able to resume my regular workouts.  But for now, I can’t.  Knowing I’ll lose strength and some of the tone I’d worked so hard for is, at its core, mostly vanity, although I did really enjoy feeling stronger and having more endurance.

So, how do I deal with my normal fitness routine being forced into hiatus?

Walking has never been a source of exercise to me, but now it will be one of the few things I am able to do while recovering.  I plan on replacing my morning mat workout with a walk with our dog, followed by an evening walk. I also have a pair of 3 pound weights that I can use.  I’m also going to do light stretches to keep me as flexible as possible.

I have to remember to be kind to my body and not push it too much while it is healing.

It will be interesting to reflect on my mindset after the healing process is over and I can resume my regular workouts.

Have you ever dealt with an injury or surgery that kept you from your typical workout routine?  How did you cope and what alternative exercises worked best for you?