Friday, February 27, 2015

Fitness: How I'm Staying Motivated this Year

Usually by the end of February, if I made any New Year’s resolutions, I don’t even remember what they were at this point. Instead, it’s February 27th and I’m actually still on track with just about all of my resolutions. One of these resolutions is exercising at least 3 times a week and cutting back on carbs. I’m proud to say I’ve made it to the gym at least 3 times a week (sometimes more) every week since the first of the year. I’ve struggled over the past year or so with sticking to an exercise routine, so I’m really proud of this. I’m confident I will keep this up because after 2 months, it’s become part of my routine. Sure, there are days I have to push myself a little harder than others to get to the gym, but even those days, I get myself there and I’m glad I did.

I think we all have different ways of sticking to a fitness routine and staying motivated. What helps me get to the gym on a Saturday morning may not help you, but I still love hearing what works for others.

Here are a few things helping me stay motivated and excited about fitness:

Gadgets 

I’ve used the Nike+ app to track my runs for a few years now and I’m still a big fan. I’m not a marathon runner and I don’t have plans to become one, but if you had told me in high school I would enjoy running for exercise, I would have laughed at you. I’ve never been much of an athlete and I have issues with my body becoming overheated easily. When I launched the Nike+ app to start tracking my run on Monday, my home screen showed that I’ve run a total of 406.7 miles since I started using Nike+. 406 miles run by a girl who said she’d never be a runner. I had to stop for a second and think about how cool that is. I’m telling you all of this because using the app helps me stay motivated and excited to beat my previous time/pace/distance. I can see that so far this month, I’ve run 21 miles, which just motivates me to get some really good workouts in these last few days of the month to beat that 21 miles.

A new gadget I’ve been using to help keep me motivated is one I mentioned a few weeks ago, the Polar FT4 watch. I’ve only been using this for about a month, but it’s really helped me workout effectively by monitoring my heart rate and letting me know when I’m not in my target zone. Being able to see my calories burned and minutes exercised helps me push myself a little further when I normally might have quit. I guess for me, being able to see my progress and workout history helps me a lot! It brings out a competitive side in me where I want to beat my previous distance, time, etc.


#1800MinuteChallenge

I believe Erin has hosted this a few times before, but I either didn’t get involved or didn’t stick with it. It’s simple: exercise for 30 minutes a day for 2 months and on top of getting in shape and helping others stay motivated, there’s also the possibility of winning a cash prize at the end. It’s pretty cool. When you sign up to participate, Erin sends you a spreadsheet so you can track your time. When I think about skipping a workout, my first thought is how I’m just going to have to make up the time on my next gym visit so I don’t fall behind on my minutes! For example, I skipped the gym Friday-Sunday of last week and regretted it immediately come Monday morning. Not wanting to fall even further behind, instead of my normal 45 minute to an hour workout on Monday, I pushed myself for a 2 hour workout so I could catch up. It was rough, but I felt really good afterward knowing I was still on track. Being accountable for tracking my minutes on a spreadsheet and wanting to be able to say I completed the challenge at the end of March has me helped me a lot!

No More Excuses

I'm pretty sure you can all relate to me here, but if I don't want to workout, I can and will find what I convince myself to be a valid reason why I absolutely cannot do it. I've told myself many things to avoid going to the gym. I used to convince myself I was too tired, too sick, too busy, just washed my hair (I know you girls can relate to this one) -- anything under the sun that made me feel a little better about skipping my workout. If I already had something planned for after work, I wouldn't even consider going to the gym after it. No way, no how.

Those days are over. Instead of coming up with some excuse as to why I can't exercise, I just do it. Half the battle is just getting myself to the gym and once I'm there, I'm all about getting a good workout in.

Scheduling Workouts

This is especially helpful for me when I have a lot of after-work events scheduled for the week. Like I said, these are times I normally would use the fact that I already have something to do after work as an excuse to skip the gym. I'm finding that early in the week, reviewing my schedule ahead of time and adding my workouts to my calendar no matter what else I have going on has really helped keep me accountable. Again, I guess it's a visual thing for me. If I have a networking event or volunteer event after work and it ends at 7 or 8, there's no reason why I can't get to the gym after that, especially if I plan for it. Adding my workouts to my calendar as appointments helps me plan ahead. This way, I don't get to Thursday and realized I've put off the gym every day so far.

Progress

I'm nearly 2 months into this and while I know I still have a ways to go before I'm where I want to be, I'm know I'm making progress. Hitting the 3 mile mark on my last run this week, feeling like my clothes are fitting more comfortably, seeing the number on the scale go down -- these are all things that are helping me keep it up.

I know we're only 2 months into the year, but I'm celebrating the fact that I haven't fallen back into my old habits.

These are just a few stays I'm finding help me stay motivated. I'd love to hear what works for you!



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