12 Ways To Work Your Workout
12 Ways To Work Your Workout
The benefits of exercising regularly are no secret. From controlling weight, to staving off chronic
disease, to improving memory and sleep—physical activity seems to be a cureall for whatever
How many times have you renewed your commitment to exercise more, only to have life get in
the way? Studies show you’re not alone. It’s a fact that most gym memberships go unused
within a month or two of purchase.
Take heart! There are ways to beat the odds and ensure your personal success. Take a long-
term view of your health, start slowly, and don’t expect a miracle in three weeks. You can break
the old cycle, and make active habits a part of daily life. Follow these twelve surefire tips to start
and maintain your workout routine.
1. Baby steps first. Promise yourself a brisk 15minute walk on your lunch hour each day, or a
20minute yoga DVD while the baby’s napping. Start with something you know you can manage
and grow from there.
2. Beware the Shortcut Charlatan. No, you can’t use “vibration technology” to jiggle flab into a
beachready bikini body. The quicker you’re able to ignore to such outlandish claims, the
quicker you can get to the real business of getting fit. Exercising can be fun, but it’s not
effortless. View your health and fitness as a creative lifelong endeavor, rather than a phase.
3. Know yourself; be yourself. Nothing causes burnout quicker than hating every minute of
your workout. Use the equipment and techniques that motivate you. Not a rooster? Don’t
schedule your workouts at 5 a.m. Enjoy camaraderie? Join a fitness class. Inspired by screams
of, “Make it burn!” as you writhe in pain after your hundredth crunch? Hire the burly retired
Marine as your
4. Precision counts. It’s easier to work toward a goal that’s detailed and specific. So “I’ll
exercise more,” becomes “I’ll bike five miles, three times a week.” Amy Carroll, fulltime
insurance agent and mother of two, has been going to the gym regularly for almost four months.
She says, “My longterm goal is to be the weight that is on my driver’s license. I have mini goals
to shoot for along the way, and currently have hit my first goal of losing 15 pounds!”
5. Personalize it. Oneonone time with a personal trainer can help demystify the vast array of
techniques and equipment. Personal trainer Brandon Senn claims that many people choose a
cookiecutter routine, and then can’t stick with their fitness program. He says, “Often people
don’t understand what they’re doing and why.” A personal trainer can help you create a flexible
and diversified program. Most can also provide
advice regarding nutrition and weight management.
6. Scale back. Resist the urge to weigh yourself every day. Sure, you want a concrete way to
track the pounds being siphoned away in your sweat. But for most people, losing more than a
poundandahalf per week is unrealistic. Senn says progress is more accurately tracked by
getting a regular body fat measurement (easily obtained at most gyms). In addition, he
recommends keeping an accurate log of your workouts as “a great way to see where you’re
making progress, and where you might need to modify what you’re doing.” Hop on the scale
only weekly, or even less often, to avoid discouragement and get a better sense of how your
weight is trending.
7. Buddy up. A workout partner with similar goals can foster some healthy competition. You
don’t need to coordinate every workout, but check in with your buddy regularly to compare
notes. Choose a person who won’t let you off the hook too easily if you miss your workout.
8. Use bribery and blackmail. Reward yourself in some small way for completing your
workout. Sometimes all it takes is the thought of a postworkout shower at the gym,
uninterrupted by small children pounding on the door. If you’re more motivated by penalty than
reward, agree to buy your workout buddy lunch if you miss more than two sessions in a row.
Use social media to post your intentions.
9. Remember your physics. A body at rest tends to stay at rest, while a body in motion tends
to keep moving. This goes for your body too. Adopt a “something is better than nothing” attitude.
When unforeseen schedule challenges arise, do a brisk 20minute walk or jog rather than ditch
your workout completely. Missed workouts pile up quickly, while your feet get more comfortable
on the ottoman.
10. Avoid the blame game. So you ate a huge piece of cake after your daughter’s party, and
now you feel like your workout was for naught. Allow yourself a miniguilt party (no more than 15
minutes!) and move on. Emphasis on move. And don’t try to compensate for those cake calories
by doubling your workout time. Forget the “sugar debt” and keep moving.
11. Mix it up. Try something new when you feel stuck in your routine. Carroll says she loves her
Zumba class, but also uses the elliptical, some weight machines, and some free weights. She
adds, “I just started doing some basic kick boxing stuff at home and I have enjoyed
12. Get inspired. Look for someone who makes you think, “If she can do it, so can I.” Whether
it’s the restaurant blogger who shed 90 pounds, or the 90yearold who still walks three miles a
day, let your “hero” spur you on. ■