Don't go to the gym: as weird as this might sound, it is very true. I am shocked at how much Americans pay for "unused" gym memberships. For most people, it just feels good to have a gym membership, they think they are doing something wonderful for themselves by just keeping that membership card in their wallet! You can get the best workout using your own body weight, all you need is simple weights or none, may be a $3.00 jumping rope for cardio or a heavy medicine ball... you really don't need much. The thing is if you feel like you have to drive somewhere to get a workout, you will always come up with excuses: I want to save gas, it's too far, it's too late to get out and drive, it's too cold ... if you decide to get your workout at home, there will be no such excuses
- Time challenge: the hardest thing for most people is finding the time to work out and even when there is time, we are tired! how can we find time to eat for an hour but not 30min to work out? the time crunch is usually just an excuse. But if you think that you really don't have time for it, put in 15-20min a day of intense workout and you would burn more calories and get a better workout than going to the gym where it takes time to drive to and back, walk around from place to place, chat with people, be distracted with TVs... tell yourself that you will do as many pushups in 2 min as you can, then as many squats in 2 min, as many crunches, burpees ... etc. the time challenge will not only shorten your workout but also help you increase the intensity. Try it, it's my favorite little trick that works best for me
- Rep challenge: another way on the same lines is to challenge yourself by increasing your reps. you don't have to time yourself for this one but try to do as many pushups as you can before you are too tired to continue. Next time, try to beat the previous workout record; that would keep you motivated and make you proud for breaking your record each time
- Accept a challenge or make a bet: tell a friend that you will do more pushups than they can in 2, 3 , 4 min or whatever. that you can hold a plank longer than they could, that you could do 100 burpees nonstop and place a bet on it, that will motivate you to practice and get stronger to be up for the challenge and might earn yourself some money too:)
- Get rewarded: tell your friends and your family that your goal is to lose so many pounds or run a 5k, 10k or even a marathon and if you do so, you would like them to reward you whether it's a great Christmas, birthday gift or a donation to your favorite charity. That way you will have a goal, you will be on a mission. You can also reward yourself. In the last 2 years, I got into the idea that everything I own should mean something to me, even my clothes and my jewelry, whether it's a gift from someone or a gift to myself but a gift to yourself won't mean much if it's not a reminder of something wonderful. For example, I tell myself that I will go for one month without any refined sugar in my diet and if I succeed, I will buy myself a specific necklace or bracelet that I want. That bracelet will always be a reminder of my will strength every time I see it. Those little reminders that make us proud motivate us as well.
- Keep an eye on the goal: write it down on your wall, fridge, bathroom mirror... etc. I am pretty bad at drinking enough water, so I have WATER written on my fridge, there is no better reminder than that since the sink is right next to me! Put a picture of your fitness model on your fridge to remind you to eat less and get your butt moving. We are all busy with the little and the big things in life that it's easy to lose sight of what we want to be because we are busy with who we are now, keep an eye on the prize all the time!
- Schedule: since most people's excuse is the lack of time, write it on the schedule and do not reschedule it every time. iPhone calendars are such a spoiler, with just 2 finger touches and it's on the next week's list! if you don't do it today, you will not do it tomorrow, don't lie to yourself and just do it! Stop making excuses with kids and homework and other things and other people.... most urgent things are not urgent at all. Get to it, everything else will be just fine!
- Make it social: the fact that we have to get gym memberships and sign up for classes is pathetic in itself for us as a society! It's like therapy for damaged people. Gyms are hospitals for a society that forgot to move! We are meant to move as humans and we are too spoiled with too many gadgets to do so, we have created way too many distractions that allow us to just "sit and enjoy the ride" that now we need to spend more money on other gadgets and institutions to undo the damage! I am a fitness trainer and instructor and I still believe that my job is the result of a dysfunctional society, I try to think about it as "preventative" but that only applies to very few people. Make your workout a social affair, get out there and play ball with the kids, husband, wife and friends, walk when you can, if you want to chat with your girlfriends, do it on a hike rather than a night out and a meal, if you want to have fun with your friends, don't drink and snack on chips and salsa, put on some tunes and dance your heart out even if you look stupid. There are much better ways to spend time with people than over a potluck and drinks.
- Set new "little" habits: I have few little interesting ones and everyone could make up their own. For ex, I don't allow myself to sit on the couch before 9pm! I don't go up the stairs, I just squat up and down the stairs, stairs are not for walking, they are for jumping squats. Who said that? ME! I don't read a book or a magazine sitting, I always take a walk to do so, I don't make long phone calls sitting either .... little things that become habits in my life and started as "new rules". Make your own and make them habits
- Sign up for a race: this is a small step to get you started. It gives you a sense of purpose and accomplishment when you are done and you never know, you might actually like it. Running is a cheap sport, all you need is a good pair of shoes, the rest is optional. Get those shoes, train few times a week and keep that race time goal in mind. Many of those who started with a 5K race did a 10K and longer distances afterwards. It could be addictive and you never know where the journey might lead you
- the skinny jeans test: well this is the old trick. Keep those skinny jeans around and try them on once in awhile. It will get your ass moving unless of course they fit just fine, in which case, you better get your workout to maintain the figure that fits in those jeans.
- Photos: : Post your favorite fitness role model and your fat picture on the fridge! It works all the time:)
- Multi-task with a purpose: here is one example of what I do. If I really want to watch " Dancing with the stars", I get on my treadmill and I won't stop until the show is over. When I am tired, I stop every time there is a commercial to get some water and I start again! If I want to challenge myself to run for 3 hours on my treadmill, I get my "Sex and the City" full series collection and I am on for a nice run! That way you don't feel like you missed out on the fun when you go to the gym for your workout. I also like to set my workout to the music, Madonna is big on this one. For ex, you can listen to your favorite 5 songs, each song will work one major muscle group. Try to do as many push ups as you can while you listen to the first song and don't stop until the end of the song, as many burpees as you can on the second song, as many squats, lunges, pull-ups ... etc
- Make new friends : it is a fact that most unfit people have unfit friends. Make new friends who have a much healthier life style, they will motivate you!
- Saving money: there are many ways to think about this one. All my classes are sessions, you pay upfront and commit! This works perfectly for most but unfortunately not for everyone. Paying upfront makes you really want to get your money's worth and get to class. Think about the cost of doctors' bills in the future if you don't stay healthy, think about how it would affect your kids and their quality of life, your healthy lifestyle is the best health insurance you will ever invest in. And speaking of saving money, do yourself a favor and don't waste your money on stupid fitness gadgets and toys and DVDs .... we all know what to do to stay fit, if you don't know, taking a boot camp for few months will give you plenty of ideas for the rest of your life. The basics stand the test of time and they always work.
- Pack ahead of time: if you like to workout at the gym, put your gym clothes in the car when you leave to work in the morning. Eliminate the excuses that you have control over. If you take a class that requires a yoga mat or dumbbells... leave them in the car all the time.
- Your children are the best motivation: here is one that I understand but at the same time, I find it very hard to believe "I am too busy to work out, I have kids". I don't have kids but if I did, I would not need any of the previously listed tricks to motivate me. Your kids should be the best motivation ever! You need to be healthy for them if you want to be around long enough to enjoy them and for them to enjoy you. It is sad to see many parents who are too heavy to play ball with their kids. Your kids should never be the excuse for your unfit and unhealthy lifestyle, instead they should be the reason you want to be healthy, playing with them should be your way to active and when you achieve your fitness goals, your kids will always be the ultimate goal for your fitness journey! You have the responsibility to teach the next generation to be fit and it starts with your own kids.
All these are just ideas but in the process, don't forget to be patient. The daily workout is just a step in a long chain of stairs. Each day is a battle within yourself and the prize is the great feeling after a class, a run and a play date which leads to the ultimate prize when you are 100 years old and can still run a marathon!