We know why we need to exercise. But knowing is different from doing. What can we do to move forward and actually translate that knowledge into action?
This is something that Rome and I have struggled with when it comes to exercise. Before we started Almost Fit Ninja, we were way behind our fitness goals. We lacked consistency and the motivation to do something physical. But Rome and I have never been quitters. So we found creative ways on how we can motivate ourselves to exercise. We hope these will work for you, too.
7 Ways to Motivate Yourself to Exercise
1. Find a Fitness Buddy
Rome was not my first fitness buddy. It was actually my friend Chesca who was my long lost kindergarten friend in Cherish Chinese School. When we reconnected at a Social media workshop, we found out that we both like yoga but were not very consistent with it. So we decided to go to class together to motivate each other.
This arrangement worked until Chesca became too busy to attend yoga class regularly so I turned to another method of exercise: running. For running, Rome and I became fitness buddies. We would schedule running on Tuesday and Thursday unless something came up and so far we’ve been consistent. Until the holidays that is. But now we’re gearing up to start all over again this year.
2. Figure Out What Works For You
One of the reasons why some people never show up a day after they start the gym or their fitness routine is because they don’t think it’s a fit for them. But before you decide it’s not for you, try it for a couple more days. The first day is always the hardest. As you go on, it gets better.
If after maybe a week of trying out your fitness routine, you realize it’s still not for you, you can try something else. Since I was not a fan of the gym, I gave yoga a try and liked it. On the other hand, my friend Lyza dislikes yoga and prefers the gym. Despite our differences in workout methods, we still shared the same fitness goals.
If yoga and gym workouts are not for you, you can try running or swimming. Running is a great way to work on your cardio while swimming will give you a whole body workout. If you want something with two-in-one benefits like self-defense and workout, muay thai would be a good option to try.
3. Start Small
If there’s a will, there’s a way. Even the laziest person in the world can start working out by starting small. How do you start small? Take mini steps.
Exercise doesn’t mean hour-long sessions at the gym. It can be as simple as walking. Even taking time to walk 20-30 minutes a day already counts. All you have to do is walk every day. Take the stairs as often as you can. If you can walk home instead of commuting, do it. You can save on commute and burn calories at the same time.
If you want to track your number of steps, you can download free apps on your mobile phone. You can also purchase a fitness band like Xiaomi’s MiBand 2, which will help you in counting steps. 10,000 steps are considered healthy but like I said, start small and set a daily average like 5,000 steps. When you’ve accomplished that, raise the number to challenge yourself.
4. Do It Consistently Until It Becomes Routine
They say that it takes a minimum of 21 days to develop a habit. Sometimes longer. So how can you make exercise a habit? By doing it every day until it becomes a routine.
When yoga buddy got too busy, it left me with a dilemma. How was I going to motivate myself to do yoga by myself? Little did I know that I had already developed a habit when I did yoga weekly.
I would find myself bringing my yoga mat to work even if I knew that I would be alone in class. If I wasn’t able to sweat it out on the mat, I would somehow feel bereft like my week is incomplete. So I tried to squeeze in at least 2-3 classes per week if my schedule allows.
5. Condition Your Mind to Do Exercise
Aside from telling yourself that will exercise tomorrow, what you can do to mentally condition yourself is to dress up as if you’re going to the gym or yoga studio.
On days when I’m feeling particularly lazy, I dress in leggings and a t-shirt, as if I’m going to yoga class after work. I also lug around my yoga mat and imagine myself as a ninja bringing an ancient scroll (think Naruto). It’s fun to let your imagination work.
When I logged out of work, I would find my feet taking me to the yoga studio because I was already dressed for it and it would be a waste not to. An hour later after I’ve sweated it out on the mat, I realized it was a good decision and continue dressing for yoga the next day.
6. Eliminate Waiting Time
Have you ever tried waiting in line for a very long time that you gave up and walked away?
When it comes to doing exercise, the challenge sometimes lies in the waiting time. If you get off at work at 4 pm but your yoga class isn’t until 7:45 pm, chances are you’ll end up not going. The moment you get home and get comfortable on your bed, you’ll find it hard to get ready to go out again.
In this situation, having a fitness buddy definitely works. My yoga buddy and I would text that we were getting ready for the yoga studio to pressure each other. But there were a couple of times wherein I fell asleep while waiting for my yoga class. So I decided to lessen the waiting time.
When my shift changed due to daylight savings, I opted to have a shorter lunch break so I could go out at 2 pm and attend the 3 pm yoga class. The earlier schedule meant I could go straight to the studio after work instead of going home where I’ll be tempted to be lazy and skip any fitness plans. After class, I would walk home to get more mileage for my daily steps.
7. Engage in a Little Friendly Competition
Apart from having a fitness buddy, it’s also fun to bring out your competitive self at times to spice up your exercise routine.
An example of this is when Jon and Azil–two of my colleagues at work–and I made a bet that the last one to finish the Milo Marathon Fun Run would treat the other two to breakfast. We’d already decided on the place to have breakfast, which was Yolk Coffee Shop.
Jon was the first one who got his MiBand (which helps you track your steps) and he would send reports to Azil and me about how many steps and kilometers he already walked in a day. Azil and I would get fired up and go to Abellana sports complex to jog. Afterwards, we would walk home. When our MiBands finally arrived, it was our turn to send Jon a little bit of intimidation.
The funny thing about the bet was that no one won. Azil came down with a cold a week into the run and I sprained my foot the week before. Since we weren’t in our full capacity to compete with each other, we decided to postpone the bet to another fun run in 2018.
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There are many other ways that you can motivate yourself to exercise. I’ve shared the 7 that worked for me, which I think can work for you, too.
What other methods have you tried to motivate yourself when doing physical activities? We would love to hear about them in the comment section.
We’ll collate all your suggestions, try them and write about them in a future post.