Monday, May 30, 2011

(How To) Stay True to Your Workout

Hi there!

I recently took a week off from the gym in attempt to allow my body to rest after an injury. Friday was my first day back at the gym and boy, did it feel good. I'm convinced that if you work out regularly (3-5 times per week) and then take some time off, your body starts craving those endorphins.

I took it easy since my knee is still healing and just peddled lightly on the elliptical and did a few upper body weights. Sometimes I'm tempted to skip the gym on days that I just don't feel like dragging myself there. However, I usually am able to convince myself to stick to it using some of these tips that I'm about to share with you.

Be Prepared
1. Pack your gym bag with all of the essentials so that you're always prepared. In mine, I currently have:
  • Waterbottle that I can refill at the gym
  • Granola bars in case I need a little energy before I start my workout
  • Reading material (book, magazines, etc.)
  • Shorts and/or capri's
  • Tee and/or tanks
  • Extra socks
  • Tennis shoes
  • Sports bras
  • Ipod + headphones

These items keep me prepared so that I don't have an excuse to skip a workout once I'm there. I also can't stress the importance of checking that you have all your clothes in your bag before you leave the house. I've arrived in the locker room too many times to realize I forgot a sports bra, socks, or shorts and end up having to go home and come back.

2. Keep your gym bag in your car. I rarely head into the office without my gym bag in my car. By doing this, it removes my excuse for not working out. I have all of my stuff with me, so I might as well head to the gym after work for a sweat session. I also take the bag with me when I head out of town to visit my sister or parent since my gym has locations near them as well.

3. Have a plan before you walk in. By having a plan either in your head or written down on a little notecard, you're more prone to stick to your workout rather than just wander around aimlessly. I have a couple of card workouts that I've jotted down on index cards to bring with me to the gym. I just tape it to the treadmill or elliptical to keep me on track. Julie at Peanut Butter Fingers has a great page that is filled with ideas if you need something new.

Just Not Feeling It?
Let's face it--we all have days that we'd rather just curl up on the couch and watch mindless reruns rather than work out. Sometimes your body needs a day off or two to recover and this is okay! Don't feel guilty about taking time off--because it is during that rest period that your muscles are able to recover and as a result, get stronger. However, if you find yourself in a funk of not wanting to work out due to boredom, here are some tips to spice things up a bit and excite you about working out.

1. Wear something that you feel comfortable in. I've noticed that I feel more confident at the gym in a good pair of running capri's and a sweat-wicking tank than I do in old dance team shorts and a big, baggy t-shirt that has been washed too many times. It motivates me to work out longer and harder rather than being distracted by uncomfortable clothing and feeling like I should just leave.
2. Switch things up. After awhile, doing the same routine over and over again will cause your body to plateau--making it difficult to lose weight or increase your endurance since the routine is no longer challenging. To avoid reaching a plateau, I try to switch things up weekly and monthly. Here's a sample week of working out for me:
  • Monday: Run outside 5 miles + Strength training consisting of legs, butt, and chest
  • Tuesday: Rest
  • Wednesday: Spin class at the gym + Strength training consisting of arms, back, and calves
  • Thursday: 60 minutes of elliptical intervals (5 min at high intensity and easy pace alternated with 5 min low intensity and very quick pace) + Strength training consisting of legs, butt, and chest
  • Friday: Treadmill intervals / speed drills + Strength training consisting of arms, back, and calves
  • Saturday: Run long distance outside or walk on treadmill at high incline  + Strength training consisting of legs, butt, and chest
  • Sunday: Elliptical intervals for 45 min, bike at heavy resistance for 15 min + Strength training consisting of arms, back, and calves
I typically take Tuesdays off due to hanging out with Andy, and Friday nights are usually our date nights so those workouts sometimes get skipped for pizza and a Redbox movie instead...

3. Entertainment. Being bored while you work out really makes it hard to get there in the first place. If you can avoid this and instead actually look forward to your workout, you're more likely to follow through with it. However, be sure that your entertainment doesn't take away from the quality of your workout--you should still be sweating! Here are some ideas:
  • Save your new book or magazine for the gym as a means to motivate yourself to get there. 
  • Got a favorite show? Make yourself watch it while on the treadmill at the gym. 
  • Download a great new playlist to keep things interesting if that helps. 
  • Bring a friend if you need accountability--chatting while riding side by side stationary bikes makes the time fly by much faster that if you're alone.

4. Try a new location. This does wonders for me! One of the deciding factors when I was choosing a gym was the multiple locations that my gym offers. Sometimes I switch things up by going to different gyms since they have different equipment, classes, and atmospheres. This technique really helps me to keep my routine different since things are not in the same place at all gym locations.

While You're There
Since you're already at the gym, you might as well make the most of it. If you've been on the treadmill for 45 minutes and you aren't even sweating, it's time to switch things up. Just remember, if you get there and you start working out and are just not feeling it, you can always leave early. It's okay to only work out for 20 minutes if you are crunched for time.

Also keep in mind that you don't have to go to the gym to work out. Some days I count cleaning my condo from top to bottom (vacuuming, scrubbing floors, etc.) and going to the grocery store as my workout for the day.
 When the weather is nice--head outside for a walk, run, bike ride, or relaxing rollerblade session to switch things up. Save running on the treadmill for when you need to keep a specific pace as part of a training plan or if the weather is cold or rainy so that you'll be less likely to burn out from treadmill boredom.

Play sports with your friends, basketball on your driveway, or try a new class at the gym--you just might like it so much that you forget you're even working out!

Take Care of Yourself
Part of a healthy fitness plan includes taking care of yourself outside of the gym. It is very important to listen to your body in terms of how it is doing each day. Sometimes it is necessary to rest rather than work out.

Reasons to Skip the Gym:
  • You have a bad cold in your chest, making it hard to breathe
  • Stomach issues (running with a stomach ache only makes it worse, believe me)
  • If you feel dizzy, dehydrated, or have a really bad headache
  • Being overly-tired or worn out (This heightens your risk for injury)
  • If your body is telling you that you need a break to rest and recover
  • Fun events--seriously, don't skip fun events with your friends and family to work out. The gym will always be there later that evening, the next day, and the following week.
This was the first of my fitness posts--I'm planning another one on factors to consider while choosing a gym, so stay tuned! 

How often do you work out? 
What motivates you to go to the gym?
What does your routine typically look like?


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