June 4, 2012

5 Elements of a Happy Workout Routine

I've never been particularly into New Year's resolutions. For some reason the month of January is always a hectic time for me and not particularly ideal for taking on healthy new lifestyle habits. I am instead a practitioner of the summer resolution. The change in routine and the slowed pace of the summer months provide an ideal environment for me to start something new and challenging.

This month I have started a serious workout regimen for the first time in my life. I am aiming to do either a cardio workout or weight training every weekday, but usually end up working out 3-4 times a week. Now, I am not an athletic person, and I have struggled with significant asthma for my whole life. Motivation can be a hard thing to come by for me.

Fortunately, I have discovered 5 things that make my workout sessions more tolerable and even enjoyable.

1. A Purpose

And I don't just mean, "I want to be healthy." Try to be as specific as possible in your purpose for working out. Think along the lines of, "I want to have more energy at work." "I want to lose ten pounds to fit into my new dress." "I want to tone my leg muscles to look sexier for my man."

If you have a specific goal in mind, it will be easier to see exactly how the sometimes difficult exercises you are putting yourself through are helping you get closer to that goal.

2. A Pal

I know we don't all have friends or family members whose schedules allow them to be our permanent workout partners, but any time you can work out with someone by your side is a plus.

Even if you aren't working out with anyone you know, I challenge you to strike up a conversation with someone at the gym. We're all shooting for the same thing--health and fitness--so a sense of camaraderie is very powerful.

3. A Pet Peeve

It might sound like a strange thing to strive for, but having standards and making choices can be very empowering experiences.

For example, I don't like to work out in the weight room when it's just me and one other guy. Mad awkward! Unless it's Joshy, of course. This pet peeve means that if I'm planning on pumping some iron and there's some well-built jock hogging the weight room, I usually opt to go running instead. In this sense, I'm not running because I have to. I'm running because I chose to.

Just a silly thing that helps to motivate me :-)

2 more motivation tips after the jump!

4. A Preoccupation

This is a fancy P-word for a distraction. Something to keep your mind busy and stop it from thinking "Omigoshthisishard!!!"

To get through even 30 minutes of full-out running on the treadmill, I need something to take my mind off of my burning lungs and legs. My go-to is The Food Network. I know it seems ironic, but for me it is perfect motivation. I have what I'm working for hanging right in front of my face, like the old carrot-on-a-string trick. Reading is also a great use of time spent on the treadmill, elliptical, or stationary bike.

5. A Post-Workout Pamper

I'm not talking a junk food binge! Try something that will be good for you as well as feel good--just a little something that you can look forward to as a reward for all of your hard work. Personally I like to hop into a cold shower and then gradually ease my way up to warm. It's so refreshing and relaxing! My other pamper if I really feel like I deserve a treat is a green tea or peppermint tea smoothie. Delicious and energizing is just what I need after burning some serious calories.

What are some of your "happy workout" secrets? Do you have any personal tips for staying motivated throughout a workout plan? Share about your experience in the comments!

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