Need a little workout motivation? Let’s talk a little bit about exercise and why it’s important. Strength training helps with stability and building lean muscle mass to delay sarcopenia (age related muscle loss). Cardiovascular training strengthens the heart muscle and has been shown to decrease the risk of heart disease. Research also shows that maintaining a healthy weight can decrease our risk of developing chronic diseases. Basically, getting about 30-60 minutes of physical activity daily can be beneficial to our health.
So how do you make sure you get your exercise in daily? Personally, I like to set challenges for myself. Currently, I’m challenging myself to improve my 10K time. It personally challenges me to get out and train not only my endurance and speed, but also my strength. I love setting challenges because they make things interesting during my workout.
But even when I set challenges, it’s can be hard to get myself motivated to do the work. There are a few key things I do to make things easier on myself.
Have a plan for your workouts
Every Sunday, I plan and review my workouts for the week. My 10K running plan recommends running a specific number of miles on certain days of the week and then incorporating strength training or cross training on other days of the week. I sign up for workout classes, if necessary. I map out running routes. I load up workout videos on my iPad. Most importantly, I create a plan and I stick with it.
Lay out my clothes for my workouts
Because I know exactly what my workouts are going to be at the beginning of the week, I know what clothes I want to wear for each workout. I do any necessary laundry on Sunday and then will lay out every. single. piece. of clothing I intend to wear. I even have a clear plastic dresser specifically designated for my workout clothes. Might sound type A but it really helps reduce the number of excuses that could keep me from getting exercise on.
Work out at the same time each day
I prefer to start my days off with a workout. It gives me energy for the rest of the day and helps me focus better during the day. I’m not necessarily advocating for morning workouts, but working out at the same time each day helps your body adjust to this schedule and set you up to achieve optimal intensity during each session. If your schedule doesn’t allow for consistency, try categorizing types of workouts and performing them at certain times of the day. For example, if you’ve planned to run on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays, pick of time of day to complete these runs and stick with them. I like to get my runs in first thing in the morning.
Create a curated playlist with songs you enjoy
Music can seriously make or break a workout. Make sure your playlist is designed to push you when you think you can’t go any more. My favorite thing to do is choose two songs on my playlist and make them my “pump up” songs. Whenever these two songs come on, I vow to push myself to the limit for the entire duration of the songs. My current "pump up" songs are "Unstoppable" by Sia and "Top off" by DJ Khaled, JAY Z, Future, and Queen B.
If I'm on a long run, I try to pick songs with fast beats that will match my heartbeat. There's a lot of Cardi B, Drake, Beyonce, Sia and even a few Justin Bieber songs on my playlist. If you have a Spotify account, try browsing through their suggested playlists to help you get started. They even simplify the process for you and categorize playlists based on heart rates!
Pick a workout that you enjoy doing
Of course, none of these tips will actually help you if you don’t actually enjoy what you’re doing. Make sure you choose a workout that is true to you. Don’t make yourself do a 30 day yoga challenge if you despise yoga. Mix things up, try new things, but never force yourself to set unrealistic expectations.
Remember - it's the holiday season. You may fall off the wagon with your exercise routine. That's quite alright. Just having a routine in the first place sets you up for success. Because you've already established a routine, getting back on track after the holidays will be easier, since you and your body know exactly what schedule works for you. So don't panic this season. Trust the process.