So you’ve decided this is the year you’re going to lose some weight and keep it off. Reaching that decisive point can be a big, empowering moment. But while everyone likes the end result of getting in better shape, many have a much harder time enjoying the day-in, day-out work it takes to get there.
If you wish you could skip over workouts and straight to the benefits of exercise, you’re far from alone. In fact, that described me at one point too! As a gymnast growing up, my workouts were tied to something I enjoyed, and the schedule was always dictated for me. But without that structure, I know firsthand how hard it can be to find exercise that inspires you to show up consistently. When you add in the confusion that can come with looking for the “right” workouts for weight loss, you have a recipe for indecision and inaction. Sound familiar?
Just because you haven’t found a way to make exercise enjoyable doesn’t mean that getting in shape isn’t for you. It just takes a little planning and conscious effort. No matter your starting point, your goal, or your interests, here are some of the things you can do to go from simply enduring or even avoiding workouts to actively looking forward to them.
As you think about turning your fitness ideas into action, the first move is to reflect on what’s driving you to get started. The broad answer may be weight loss, but seeing a smaller number on the scale is really just a means to an end. Will losing weight make you feel more confident? More healthy? What will it help you achieve tomorrow that you aren’t ready for today? What specific changes can it create inside and out?
Reflect on those desires and visualize those changes. Having a clear picture of your “why” in your mind’s eye is so important throughout your fitness journey, but especially at the early stages. As you calibrate your fitness efforts, this “why” will give you the reason to carry on and keep pushing for progress while you hone in on what works best for you. Any time you don’t feel like working out, think back on what inspired you to start and realize how far you’ve already come.
Fitness isn’t one-size-fits-all. Movement is a major component of any weight loss plan. But within that, you have more freedom to move on your terms than you probably realize. Instead of feeling like you “have” to do specific exercises to lose weight, find ways to integrate what you already love into your new fitness routine. Not only will that give you more confidence as you get started, but it can give you something to look forward to that encourages you to keep going.
Start by listing out some of the physical activities you currently enjoy or have enjoyed in the past. Did you play a sport growing up and want to revisit that? Do you already enjoy walking, biking, or swimming? Any of those can form the basis of an exercise regimen. If it gets you excited to get moving, you (and/or your personal trainer) can find a way to build some workouts around it.
Even if you’re struggling to find physical activities that would seem to fit the mold, think broadly about your hobbies and interests. Chances are, there’s a way to turn something you love into a viable form of exercise. Love being outdoors? Running, biking, and hiking will let you spend time in nature while burning some calories. Do you enjoy games with an element of mental stimulation? Rock climbing is basically like solving a puzzle with your body, and the nearest gym may be closer than you think. Is music your passion? Get into your workout groove while working up a sweat in a dance class.
The goal is to find a form of fitness that will feel more fun than frustrating. When you find it, you’ll be able to focus on the aspects you love without fixating on the parts that you don’t. And no matter who you are or what you want to do, know that an enjoyable form of exercise is out there waiting for you.
The value of knowing your “why” and finding activities you’ll enjoy is that they can help motivate you at the stage before progress starts to appear — and whenever things don’t feel like they’re going according to plan. Reaching the point where seeing results helps you sustain momentum is all about creating consistent behaviors. And what’s one key to consistency? Creating a schedule and sticking to it.
Don’t just leave working out for “when you feel like it”. Plan ahead, picking days of the week and times of the day you’ll do them. Put those times on your calendar and take whatever steps you can to avoid distractions and other commitments during that window. That way, exercise becomes way more than an afterthought that can fall by the wayside as your to-do list grows. If you start the day with fitness at the forefront of your mind, you’ll be prepared to find a way to fit it into your schedule and end the day having worked up a sweat and earned a sense of accomplishment.
Yes, life gets busy and messy. And rest days are important, too. If one day gets away from you, it’s not going to cancel out how far you’ve come. Flexibility will be your friend, and making some imperfect progress is better than skipping exercise entirely because things didn’t go according to plan. When you keep at it, you’ll start to see how your newfound fitness plan isn’t just fun: it’s creating change.
It sounds silly, but it’s a simple fact: rewards are incredibly useful for creating good habits because they introduce an external motivation. At the beginning of your fitness journey, rewards offer an immediate way to feel good long before you see a smaller number on the scale or positive changes in the mirror. That can keep you motivated to build the momentum that ultimately leads to progress towards your goals.
And just like chaining together individual workouts adds up to those goals, you can also take steps to reward and celebrate longer-term consistency. Remember that calendar with your workout schedule? Mark off every day you successfully do some form of exercise and start to build a streak. When you’ve hit a certain number of days, weeks, or months in a row, treat yourself to a bigger, more meaningful reward. Not only will seeing a visual representation of your streak keep you accountable to “not breaking the chain”, you’ll also remember that each workout adds up to something greater — not to mention the weight loss you’re after.
Make sure any reward you choose is meaningful and desirable, but not something that trades long-term progress for short-term satisfaction. Basically, don’t throw yourself a pizza party after every trip to the gym. But if you’ve hit a workout target for the week, maybe treat yourself to a little self-care in the form of a nice massage. For longer-term rewards, try setting aside a certain amount of money every time you work out, and spend whatever’s in that proverbial piggy bank after you’ve hit a certain goal. What’s better than a weekend away? Knowing you earned it — and knowing the work you put in has you looking and feeling good, too.
Don’t think that’s motivating enough? For an added layer of accountability, consider telling a family member or close friend about your plans, and stipulate that whatever money you’ve set aside actually goes to them should you fall short of your goal.
At this point, you hopefully have a specific idea of why working out matters to you. You have a sense of how your existing interest or hobbies can fit into an exercise regimen. You have your workouts scheduled on the calendar, and rewards picked out to celebrate both your first workout and first perfect week. So what happens next?
You take action. There’s never going to be a moment where the stars align and you see a sign that says “go work out right now” in big flashing lights. If you wait around hoping for motivation to appear, you’ll stay in the same spot forever, because mood follows action. The difference between step zero and step one can feel infinite, but taking all of the steps mentioned above means you’ve already made that leap of faith a whole lot smaller and more manageable. Just start moving, and remember that an object in motion stays in motion. Go into that first workout with an open mind, and I guarantee you’ll be surprised where you eventually end up if you stick with it consistently.
If you want a little extra help finding the joy in fitness and starting on your path to weight loss, teaming up with a Future coach can help you take your first steps with purpose. Your coach will get to know who you are, and work alongside you to establish your “why” before getting started. They get to know your interests, likes, and dislikes, so they can tailor a workout plan that balances what you’ll enjoy with what you need to hit your goals. Every coach is an expert at creating flexible workouts, which can seamlessly slide into any schedule. They’ll keep you accountable to your plan, and help you celebrate every small win on the road to progress. And when you don’t know what to do next, your Future coach will be ready with a plan that fits your life and your schedule, whenever or wherever you work out.
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