As New Year’s resolutions begin popping up all over your Facebook feed, you may find yourself overwhelmed just reading a few of them. One person pledges to run 1,000 miles this year; another talks about upping their max bench press. It’s enough to make you give up before you even begin!
The truth is, you can improve your health without necessarily devoting your life to your workouts. If you have no intention of spending hours at the gym, or religiously Instagramming your progress pics, why not try an easier approach? Here are some motivational fitness tips for those of us who have trouble getting started.
Use Generalized Language When Setting Goals
When people set goals for themselves with tough parameters, they can often end in failure. Saying something like, “I will work out four times a week,” can lead to anxiety, frustration, and a desire to give up the first time life gets in the way; consequently you don’t achieve that goal.
Instead, use less precise language that can’t be held up as a “failure” on your part if you don’t quite achieve your objectives. Things like: “When possible, I will walk to nearby places rather than drive,” “I will begin prioritizing time for myself so that I can get a workout in,” or “I want to eat more vegetables,” are all great goals for two reasons – they are attainable, and they are forgiving.
Work on Changing Your Habits First
You may describe yourself as “lazy,” but it might be more accurate to say that you’re a creature of habit. Habits are easy to maintain and don’t require much effort on your part. And because you’re not currently in the habit of working out, you’re having trouble getting started. Let’s change that.
Try this: for two weeks, simply drive to the gym (or the track, or the basketball court, or a hiking trail, etc.). You don’t have to do anything once you get there. If you feel like working out, go for it, but if not, don’t worry about it. What you are doing here is simply getting yourself into the habit of driving to a workout location. Soon, it won’t seem like such a massive shift in behavior, and it will be much easier to fit into your day.
Find a Workout You Actually Enjoy
Many people struggle with regular workout routines simply because they hate the workout they’re doing. The bottom line is you need to feel motivated. If jogging makes you miserable, don’t jog. If you feel silly doing yoga, don’t do it. If you get bored to tears on a treadmill, step off it.
This is your chance to experiment with different types of exercise, and to find one that doesn’t feel like work. People form habits around the pleasurable things in their life, so an enjoyable workout will be much easier to fit into your day because you’ll want to do it.
One last tip: let technology help you. Find a fun smartphone app that keeps track of your health progress, and approach your workouts like a game. The more fun you can make your routines, the more likely you’ll stick with them. Good luck!