We all go through periods when exercise doesn't come as easily and naturally as we'd like it to. As someone who has gone through her fair share of exercise slumps, here are some tips that have helped me get through these exasperating times and back into a fitness rhythm:
1. Know your "why."
At different times in my life, I've been motivated to exercise due to different factors. Sometimes, it was pure vanity and "needing" to fit into a certain outfit for a particular event (although I'm a little embarrassed to admit this). These days, I'm more focused on my health, well-being and how good it feels to get out there and get moving!
So what's your why? Figure this out and you'll already be one step closer to your goal of feeling better!
2. Start in your head and heart ... your body will follow.
Sometimes knowing why we want to be active isn't enough motivation to actually do something about it. I'm one of those people who believes that things happen twice: first in our hearts and mind, then in our realities. So when I'm out of gas, I create some brain fuel. I visualize how I'll feel after accomplishing my why. This could be as simple as knowing how fun it'll be to play volleyball with my nieces and nephews without feeling winded after five minutes. Or it could be as grand as winning my next half-marathon.
If you're anything like me, a little visual stimulation can go a long way. If the mental imagery isn't enough to get you going, try placing visuals around your house. If your goal is to run a 5K, hang your last medal where you can see it every day. Better yet, create a whole vision board filled with images that inspire you to reach your goal. Does it feel good? Then you're on the right track!
3. Start small.
Start small, whatever that means for you. This could be trying on your old running shoes one day and then walking around the block the next. And that's okay. Action often inspires motivation, not the other way around.
4. Make it easy and enjoyable.
I hate waking up early and I hate going to the gym. I look forward to being outside and walking and jogging around the lake in my neighborhood, so that's what I do. It'll be much easier to start a workout regimen if it fits easily into your daily life and it's something you want to do as opposed to another item to check off of your already lengthy to-do list. Do you like exercising before or after work? Morning or afternoon? Have fun finding out what works for you and do that.
5. Think about how you'll feel after.
We already know you'll feel great after you obtain your ultimate why, but think about how you'll feel after even just one workout. Sometimes even after getting back into a routine, I'll have a mini-slump: a day that I just don't feel like moving my body. Sometimes, I give in to that feeling and that's OK.
But on the days that I don't, that's where the magic happens. That's when my brain is reminded that I'm yet to regret a workout no matter how I felt when I started. I always come out on the other side feeling happier and healthier. Sometimes thinking short term goes a long way. Will I feel better in an hour after sitting here and scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed or after going out for a bike ride? Usually, that's enough to get me up and out the door. That's the hardest part, but I'm pretty sure you'll never regret it!
6. Be gentle with yourself.
No matter what your why is, it should come from a place of love. I hope you want to start exercising again because you deserve it and all the fringe benefits it has to offer!
The best thing about getting out of a rut is getting into a sweet spot! At the end of these valleys, I usually find myself at an exercise peak — one of those seasons when I'm all about my exercise and don't feel quite right without it. I've come to accept both as part of the regular ebb and flow of life. We may not be able to eliminate these down times altogether, but hopefully the tips above can help you to shorten them and make them less stressful.
What I love most about these tips is that they're transferable! Many of them have helped me to get through slumps in other areas of my life as well.
So how do you motivate yourself to get back up and into the game?