We all know the importance of sticking with a workout routine. And it’s great when we see ourselves progressing. For a lot of us, our workout can be a fun, stress-relieving part of our day. But there are always those days when we just don’t feel like it, and all we want to do is crawl up on the sofa and turn on the TV. What is it that blocks our motivation on those days, and how do we overcome that?
Lack of time
This is possibly the most common motivation block. With work, family and additional commitments, so many of us have such packed schedules already that finding time to workout seems impossible. But most of the time, it’s not. The first step is to realize that your exercise regimen doesn’t have to entail long, grueling gym sessions. Just a 20-minute walk can do wonders.
The next step is planning and consistency. Figure out how long it will realistically take you to workout each day, start to finish, and schedule your day accordingly. Then try to stick with that. If you do it long enough, working out will eventually become just another part of your regular daily routine, like showering or brushing your teeth. It won’t be something you have to set aside special time for.
This is another biggie for a lot of us. Working out takes a lot of energy! And if we’re already feeling tired, the thought of spending even more of that valuable resource can seem completely exhausting. The solution to this is simple – try to get more sleep. And if you’ve already had a poor night’s sleep, try taking screen breaks throughout the day. Staring at a computer for hours can be tiring, even if you’ve gotten a full eight hours of shut-eye. So take breaks now and then to stand up and walk around a little. And remember, although thinking about exercising when you’re already tired can feel daunting, in the end, it’s actually likely to make you feel more energized.
Doing the same workout day in and day out can get old. So try mixing it up. Take a new class, go on a different hiking or jogging route, or find a workout buddy. There’s no need to force yourself to push through the same boring routine day after day. Working out should be enjoyable!
You just don’t like it
Boredom is one thing – but there are those among us who, while they may not get bored, per se, just don’t like exercising. For some of us, it really is that simple. But even if that’s the case for you, there’s likely some activity out there somewhere that you will enjoy. Try going on a short nature walk, or playing games like EA Sports Active or Wii Fit Plus. If it doesn’t feel like exercise, it will probably be more enjoyable.
It’s hard to keep going with a workout routine if you don’t feel like you’re getting anywhere. Maybe you want to lose a certain amount of weight, or hit a particular running speed or weight lifting goal, but you just can’t seem to get there. If this is the case, stop and ask yourself if those goals are really necessary for you to be healthy.
We may not realize it, but sometimes, the goals we set for ourselves are just arbitrary. We base our ideal weight on what other people weigh, and we base our performance goals on what we see other people doing. But maybe those goals aren’t right for you — and that’s perfectly okay! Or maybe you’re just failing to recognize your smaller accomplishments. Fitness doesn’t happen all at once, so be sure to celebrate incremental goals.
Lack of confidence
Often, we compare ourselves to others and, when we’re not at the same level of fitness, we start to feel bad about ourselves. Maybe a co-worker is training for a marathon, and you feel like there’s no way you can ever be that accomplished of a runner, so you don’t even try to maintain a jogging routine of your own.
If this sounds familiar, realize that health is not a competition! You don’t have to live up to anyone else’s standards. All you need to do is what’s right for your own body. Start with small steps, and remember how great it is that you’re putting in the time and effort to care for your body.
Often, if we feel like we’re out of shape (whether we actually are or not), going to the gym can make us feel self-conscious. But remember, you have as much right to be at that gym as anyone else! The key here is to do what you can to start practicing self-love. Of course, this is easier said than done. Try to find health practitioners, coaches, writers or meditations focused on helping you to love yourself and understand your inherent worth. You are a lovable, valuable human being regardless of what the scale says! And if going to the gym feels awkward, be gentle with yourself and start off by working out at home, or going on walks instead.
If you haven’t maintained a regular workout routine in the past, it might be difficult to know where to start. Maybe you go to the gym, but you don’t know which machines are best for your fitness goals. Or you take a yoga class but everyone seems more advanced than you. The solution here is to get as much information as possible. If it’s in your budget, try meeting with a trainer. Do some internet research. Talk to friends who workout regularly and find out how they got started. And keep trying different kinds of workouts to discover what you like best, and what feels best to your body.
Gym memberships can be expensive, and this is a very real concern. But if it’s something that has been standing in your way, consider forms of exercise like walking, hiking and jogging that don’t require a gym membership or pricey equipment. Also, you can go online and find video classes for activities like yoga. You can also go old-school and try some of the stuff you used to do in gym class, like burpees, push-ups and jump rope. Those can be done right in your living room, for free.
For most of us, exercise can result in soreness when we’re first starting out. And it’s easy to see how this can be a deterrent — no one likes to be in pain! But there are steps you can take to work through this. First, realize that a little soreness is perfectly normal if you haven’t been exercising on a regular basis (the key phrase here is a little – if you’re experiencing a significant amount of pain, stop your workouts, rest and see a medical professional).
You can also start out with easy, gentle workouts. Don’t push yourself too much in the beginning. Be sure to take rest days — your body needs time to recover, otherwise you might end up injuring yourself. And remember, the more you workout, the more your body will be able to handle. It won’t always feel like such a strain.
— Sarah Cooke