Do you love working out?
For lots of people, the answer is a big fat NOPE. Exercise can seem like a chore that is painful, sweaty, exhausting, and an added task at the end of an already long day. With that as the description, who would ever want to exercise?
And yet, regular physical movement is one of the biggest, if not the single biggest factor that can positively impact your health and longevity for the better. This means it’s important to find a way to enjoy exercising, or at least stick with a movement practice you can tolerate, if you want to enjoy your best mental and physical health.
Your mindset will determine how successful you are at this. While you might have motivation for a couple of days, that motivation will fade on the first day you are sore, tired, and busy. Will-power isn’t really a thing, so it’s better to create a mindset around fitness that will allow you to keep up your practice regularly.
Exercise starts with your mindset, just like everything else. We’ve got 6 tips for you to focus your mindset around fitness, and you can take these same tactics for any other goals you have.
Create a Support System
There’s no need to rely on self-motivation when you have a group of friends or like-minded people at your side. Doing something alone is much harder than doing something with others, so hack your brain by making your workout time a social activity. Whether you go running together, join a dance class or martial arts studio, or get into an online accountability group, the social aspect of your activity will make it easier to stay consistent since you know other people are on the journey with you. You can even use this time to strengthen bonds with friends and family! There’s nothing like going on a scenic hike with people you care about, or sharing your workout face with your best friend.
Choose the Right Tech Tools
Modern innovations have made working out more fun and entertaining than ever, and there are a plethora of ways you can track your progress along your fitness journey. Smart watches allow you to monitor your heart rate, sleep quality, and more. They also offer workout programs that track your biometrics and give you feedback which allows you to tailor your workouts and understand your health as more than a number on a scale. Workout equipment too comes with more smart technology, such as bikes with built-in screens and heart monitors, and home workout systems that adjust to your level of strength. You can even use a VR headset to transport you to scenic and fantasy locations while you work out in your living room.
When you were a baby, you didn’t have any concept of patience, but that didn’t stop you from trying to walk again every time you wobbled over. It’s the same now, when you are learning new skills. It takes time, and you’ll wobble over from time to time. You’ll need that same level of resiliency when you’re not enjoying your workouts, when you’re sore and tired, and when your results don’t come as fast as you want. You are building a habit, and that takes time. This doesn’t need to be your best workout ever, it just needs to be the best that you can give that day, which might be walking 5 minutes or doing 5 pushups. Just keep taking action and you’ll find that not only are you in better shape with each passing month, but that you’ve changed your whole perspective around keeping yourself healthy.
You probably have that one friend who loves running. They get up early every day and do 5 miles in the time it takes you to go downstairs and get your coffee (after you’ve had your electrolytes, obviously). And maybe you’ve tried their running routine…and absolutely hate every minute of it. Maybe you’ve tried it several times, and hate it more each time. Good thing running isn’t the only thing you can do to keep your body moving!
Pick activities that sound fun for you, and give them a try. Most importantly, try them several times. The first time you get into a new activity, you have no idea what you’re doing and might have a hard time learning the skill. By the second time, you know a little more what to expect, and after that, you’ll start to get the hang of things and see if you really like it or not. There are so many options! Think about roller skating, hiking, boxing or martial arts, swimming, or even playing soccer with your kids or taking your dog on longer walks with good music or a podcast in your ears.
Remember to Rest
Whether you’re a seasoned athlete, a weekend warrior, or you’re just getting started on your fitness journey, remember to take time to rest. The temptation to work out harder every day is strong, but muscles heal like burns: slowly. Once or twice a week, instead of your normal workout, choose a slow and restorative activity. A slower walk in nature, yoga, or Tai Chi are great options to keep moving without burning yourself out. This is not a time to feel guilty and you’re not slacking. Giving your body time to heal means you can continue to enjoy your activities more, you’re less prone to injury, and the pressure of daily progress doesn’t damage your mindset.
Remember your Big Why
This is the most important factor to consider. Why are you even on a fitness journey? Why are you doing difficult things, trying new activities, and getting in better shape? Your WHY is a powerful motivator on your good days, and especially on the days when getting to the gym is the last thing you want to do. If you’re just doing something because your doctor or your friends said you should, you’re not going to stick with it. If your motivation is internal, because doing hard things gets you to where you want to be, you will have the drive to make fitness a habit and achieve your goals. Bonus, your consistent commitment will give you more confidence to pursue other goals, which is why many people who stick to a fitness habit often upgrade other areas of their life, like finding better jobs and improving relationships with partners. Your internal why could be different than anyone else’s, and could be things like staying healthy to play with grandkids, proving that you can get in better shape, loving the sport you got into, or even spite because someone said you couldn’t do it. There is no wrong answer here so dig deep in your own mind and understand why you chose a fitness journey in the first place.
Your fitness journey will change over time. You may choose different activities to fit into a new lifestyle or a new location, you may enjoy seasonal sports, or your situation might change and you need to reassess your plan. Come back to these mindset tips any time to stay resilient against whatever life throws at you and stick with a healthy movement practice.