Living a healthy lifestyle comes down to what you’re putting into your body, but also how active you are. As many of us lead very sedentary lives (where my fellow desk job people at?!), it’s more important than ever to take care of our bodies and get them moving.
Growing up with all my weight and body image issues, if food was the enemy, then exercise was the devil. I despised it majority of the time. I viewed exercise solely as a means to help me lose weight and I forced myself to exercise in ways I hated because that’s what I thought I needed to do. Cardio was all the rage in the ‘90s and early 2000s. At that time, I looked to magazine articles, people in the media, and even my own parents to dictate the type of exercise – aka cardio – to do.
My family and I joined a YMCA close to our house when I was in middle school and it was then I realized, I really did not like the gym. I dreaded going. While I was there, I forced myself on the elliptical and treadmill because I really didn’t think I had any other options and because I thought I could burn the most calories on them. I was so focused on how many calories I burned that it became an unhealthy obsession. I’d then count down the minutes until my parents said it was time to leave.
It really wasn’t until maybe 8th grade or high school that I realized that the gym wasn’t my only option. I suddenly realized that I really loved to run outside. It was a way for me to get outside and breathe fresh air, get away from my thoughts, and lose myself in my music. Running became a passion of mine and I slowly stopped frequenting the gym unless I absolutely had to. Running on the treadmill just has never been the same to me as running outside. It’s ultimately what led me to joining the track team in high school. I finally was able to shift my thinking and view working out in a completely new way.
Unfortunately, my body had other plans. While training for my first half marathon in college, my knee gave out when I was four miles off campus on my eight mile run. I only had my iPod on me at the time with no cell phone and lucky me, I was surrounded by farmland! Painfully, I limped home the four miles by myself, knowing full well I would likely not be running the half marathon. I went to the doctor that day and sure enough, I was right. The doctor let me know I had tendinitis in both my knees (years later, it was diagnosed too as jumper’s knee). I was instructed to take it easy and allow my knee to heal. I was absolutely devastated.
I was determined to get back to my running, but it was very slow going. It took me awhile to heal and truthfully, my knees have never been the same. I realized a few years ago that for the sake of my knees, I had to give up my love of running and find something else to keep my body moving and aid in my weight loss. (Although, I still like to go for the short two mile run here and there when my knees aren’t screaming at me.) I can’t pinpoint really when it was, but I took my first barre class about six years ago and my first reformer pilates class about three years ago. These low-impact, high intensity classes were just the ticket for someone like me who gets bored at the gym, who is not a huge fan of cardio, and who has the knees of an 80 year old woman.
I’ve instituted going to workout classes as an almost daily habit, not only as a means for me to lose/maintain my weight, but to also have an exercise routine I can get excited about and help me lead a healthy lifestyle. I can’t wait to share the tips I’ve gathered and implemented over the years to get me to where I am today with my exercise routine!
Change Your Attitude
While most people view working out as a means to lose weight, don’t let that be your sole purpose. Reason being, I want you to get to a point where you don’t dread your workouts, but you actually look forward to them. Change your attitude when it comes to your exercise routine, so it’s something you can get excited about. Get creative and find ways you enjoy being active, even if that means just going for a long walk on a beautiful day. That’s personally one of my favorite ways to get some exercise! You can also seek out different types of classes to see what you like best. I would have never known how much I love barre and pilates if I hadn’t mustered up the courage to try some new classes. You can even try different machines at the gym or try picking up some weights.
The best part is, once you start finding exercises you like and you begin enjoying your workouts, the less it becomes about just losing weight. It ultimately becomes more about changing your lifestyle, your habits, and your mood. It all starts with that attitude, my friend. Stay positive, be curious, and get pumped! You got this!
It’s important to stay realistic when it comes to starting a new workout routine, especially if you haven’t had one before or had one in awhile. It’s so easy to compare yourself to others in your classes or at the gym, but you are not them and they are not you. Everyone has their own exercise routine and pace that works best for them and that’s important to remember. Be realistic with yourself on how much you can do and don’t beat yourself up over it when you don’t have something down right away. The last thing you want to do is injure yourself, like I did when I was training for my half-marathon. Before my knee gave out, it was throbbing. I ignored it and kept pushing myself through it, and look what happened – Not. Good. Set yourself up for success by knowing your limits and being realistic with yourself so you can feel proud and accomplished after your workout.
Make It Happen
It can be so intimidating starting a new exercise routine, I get it. But sometimes, you just gotta tell yourself to make it happen. One thing I’ve found that has given me that extra push is purchasing new workout clothes. My favorite workout gear is from Old Navy, Lululemon and Nike. Seeing all my cute new athleisure wear laid out the night before my workout gets me excited to wear it the next day and I actually look forward to going to my workout class, even if it’s earlier in the morning. (Although real talk, I am not a morning person and I don’t usually schedule any type of workout before 8am.)
That’s another thing – don’t force yourself to go do your workout at times that don’t make sense for you. Otherwise, that’s just going to be one more hurdle you’re going to have to go through to get yourself there. Because I’m not a morning person and would rather work out in the afternoon, I tend to schedule my workouts during the lunch hour or after work. There are some days where I will do a morning class, just because it’s more convenient with my schedule, but those are typically the classes I tend to dread more.
Another tip I have that gets my booty to class is the fact that I schedule my classes like they are meetings. Classpass is great for this, as it allows you to schedule classes you love at times that are most convenient for you and your schedule. As of today, Classpass has partnerships with over 8,500 health clubs and studios and is available in 49 different cities worldwide – so definitely check it out to see if they are available in yours! I absolutely love love love the flexibility and structure it provides my workouts. The blessing/curse is that you can’t cancel less than 12 hours before the class or else you are charged $15. There are some days I regret that I signed up for a class but because I’m within that 12 hour window, I force myself to go because I know that’s always going to be better than paying an extra $15 out of pocket for missing the class. A little bit of an incentive, which I like! And I think we can agree that after we complete a workout, we’re happy that we went, right? Just get yourself there!
We’re always going to find excuses not to workout though, but you have to push yourself to get through the uncomfortable. They say it takes 21 days to make something a habit, so stick with it! It’s going to be difficult and challenging, especially in the beginning, but the more you go, the better you feel and the more you can accomplish. Soon enough, those dreaded workouts will become workouts you love that you can’t wait to go to! 🙂
Be Patient with Yourself
This is a big one. You cannot allow yourself to get discouraged. So many people start workout routines and suddenly quit when they don’t see any results. I hope by doing the previous three tips I’ve provided, this will allow you to stay in it and stay happy with your routine. Progress does not happen overnight, so it’s important to remember that. I think my generation in particular is very much always looking for instant gratification, because well, that’s what we’re used to in pretty much all other aspects of life. Don’t get hard on yourself if you don’t see results right away. It takes time, especially with new exercises you’re not used to. And a little change in perspective….even if you don’t see the physical results right away, I guarantee you will at least start to see results mentally. You will be more alert throughout the day, you will feel happier (hi, endorphins!), and you may even be sleeping a little better at night!
I think it’s also important to note that you don’t have to (and shouldn’t) workout every single day. Be patient and enjoy your workouts – regardless of how frequent they are. There are some weeks I will exercise six days a week. But, then there will be other weeks where I only workout once or twice because of my busy schedule, or because I simply just don’t feel like it. Those days, I tend to feel guilty about not going, but I remember there’s always tomorrow. If I didn’t get to it today, I can make time for it tomorrow. I have to be patient with myself and know when it’s time to take a break. Remember that!
What do you think about these four tips? Does this motivate you to start thinking of a new workout routine? What gets you excited to get moving? Leave your thoughts in the comments – I love hearing from you!
Kelly Nash is a Chicago-based writer, speaker, career advisor, and founder of Lipstick & Ink®. In addition, she works full-time in technology as a Success Manager at Salesforce and has over 10 years of digital marketing experience. Kelly has been featured in Thrive Global, International Association of Women, General Assembly, Salesforce, SheFactor, and Six Degrees Society. She is also in the process of writing her first book.