Perspiration And Inspiration

I have good news: even the most disciplined and motivated exercisers wane from their fitness routine once in awhile. There are plenty of excuses available, but I will fess up and let you know mine. I live in northern Illinois where the past couple of weeks have been excessively hot and humid – in fact, 105-115 degrees Fahrenheit with the heat index. Normally I would be outdoors riding my bike or going for a walk, but these activities would be dangerous in this kind of heat and humidity. What about the health club? My membership expired as I was on vacation, busy with the kids, and was lacking the money to renew the membership. I don’t own any home exercise equipment, nor am I a big fan of exercise videos. Granted, I am active in my home with day-to-day activities – and I even used handheld weights to do some semblance of strength-training – but it wasn’t the same as a full workout outdoors or at the health club. According to Chad Tackett, the President of Global Health and Fitness, including exercise into your busy schedule will be an adjustment, and staying motivated will be equally challenging. However, when you begin achieving great results, the excitement and fun you experience will make the change well worth the effort. Action creates motivation!

The following ideas will boost your motivation and keep it at a high level:

  1. Schedule your workouts. You should have a large calendar in a prominent place in your home or keep an appointment book – use it! Your workouts should be like an important appointment, because that’s exactly what they are. If you exercise on the same days, at the same time, you create a routine and not exercising will feel unnatural.
  2. Set short-term goals to ultimately reach your long-term goals. For instance, if your long-term goal is to walk three miles, four times a week, then set short-term weekly goals at first. Start out with one mile until that becomes comfortable, then move up to 1 ½ miles the next week, etc. For strength- training, either increase your weight or the number of reps every few weeks. On the other hand, make sure your goals are attainable. If your expectations are set too high, you will be setting yourself up for failure, due to frustration. Equally, make sure that your goals are not too easy. When you reach your goal, your own satisfaction will create more motivation.
  3. Add variety to your routine by trying a new form of exercise. If you always work out with barbells, try the machines next time. If you always walk, try bike riding. If you use a stationary bike, use the treadmill or stair machine. If you like aerobic exercise videos, try the new Tae Bo tapes.
  4. Ask a friend or family member to join you. It could be as simple as asking someone to join you on a daily walk, or as challenging as competition: use a timer and see if you or your exercise partner can walk a 13-minute mile. One evening last week, I hopped on my bike and rode 1-½ miles in five minutes. I stopped a minute for a water break (this was in the excessive heat I mentioned at the beginning of this article!), then did it again. When I got home, I challenged my husband to beat my time. He got on my bike and rode the 1-½ mile loop – in the same time!
  5. Keep a workout log. An exercise diary can be very inspiring when you can go back and see how far you’ve come. If you desire, you can also record your weight and measurements once a month.

Honestly, I’ve been missing my exercise routine. Even though I haven’t gained any weight, I “feel” heavier and more sluggish – my energy level has waned. This evening there was a lull in the heat wave, and with a smile on my face, I jumped on my bike and went for a short, but fast ride. You know what? It felt great – and I can’t wait to do it again tomorrow. Action creates motivation!

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