“Ugh. I don’t have the energy to workout today. Maybe tomorrow.” How many times have you had a similar thought as you nestled in for another Netflix binge on your couch?
You may think of exercise as something hard and unpleasant. You might even regard gyms with skepticism, dismissing them as the domain of hulking behemoths who grunt and groan over seemingly impossible weight loads.
No wonder you reject the idea when an article or well-meaning friend encourages you to work out more often. However, a lot of those negative preconceptions you have about fitness simply aren’t true. Here’s how to reframe your mindset on exercise.
1. Make It Fun
Ask mothers anywhere in the world if they have to beg their kids to please go to the playground, and they’ll look at you as if you have lobsters crawling from your ears. Kids inherently love to run, skip, jump and climb. What happens between the ages of eight and 28 that transforms once pleasant activities into a chore?
Here’s the deal — working out should be fun. Even running on a treadmill becomes more entertaining if you crank the tunes in your earbuds and move your feet to the beat.
More than 60% of U.S. adults don’t get enough physical activity — can you imagine that many children voluntarily skipping recess? Of course not. Find what’s fun for you. Your workout might look more like playing in a recreational softball league or dancing the night away at your favorite club, but you’re still reaping the health benefits.
2. Set a Timer
There understandably will be times when you arrive home utterly exhausted from your day. Working out is the last thing on your mind, but you know you should move your body. How can you encourage yourself without making it feel like fitness is yet another chore?
Try this trick: Set a timer for five to 10 minutes. Promise yourself that you only have to work out that long, giving yourself full permission to stop when the buzzer rings. You’ll likely find that you have the energy to continue once you get past that initial sticking point.
3. Phone a Friend
You might shy away from group fitness if you’re an introvert. However, resolving to sweat it out with at least one trusted friend can help you stick to the program.
Researchers investigated two groups of new exercisers, half of whom worked out with a friend or two and half who went it alone. About 95% of those who began with a partner stuck to the program, compared to only 76% who went solo.
It’s easy to say you’re too tired to exercise if the only thing awaiting you at the gym is a treadmill. However, you’ll feel awfully guilty if you leave your BFF stranded along by the ellipticals.
4. Stack Your Habits
Habit stacking refers to linking a new habit to an old one to make it easier for you to remember until it becomes part of your lifestyle. How can it work for fitness?
Let’s say you want to work out first thing in the morning. When you lay out your work clothes for the next day, put your workout gear right beside them. Seeing your sports bra will trigger your memory until fitness becomes a part of your a.m. routine.
5. Reward Yourself
One of the driving forces of despair in today’s society is that too few people see tangible rewards for their efforts. You might be among the many who work your hardest, only to barely keep your head above water.
Fitness brings its rewards in better health and well-being, but the results don’t happen overnight. It’s easy to grow frustrated, viewing your workout as just one more thankless to-do to cross off your list daily.
Instead, make the reward more immediate — it does not need not be large. Did you make it to spin class instead of sleeping in? Treat yourself to a coffee on the go instead of hassling with cleaning your pot. Have you crushed your workout plan for the last two weeks? Snag those new leggings you can’t wait to sport at the gym.
Make Working Out Work for You
Do you still think of fitness as a chore? Reframe that thought — why would anyone skip out on recess, the best part of the day?
Use these tips to reframe your mindset on exercise. Adjust your mental outlook and reap the physical and mental rewards.