by NATALIA JASTRZAB
Tumultuous. That’s the only way I can describe the relationship I have with exercise. Sometimes I love it but a lot of the time my inner sloth kicks in and I will do anything I can to avoid heading to the gym or going out a run or hitting the pool for a swim. Baking a cake, rearranging my wardrobe, catching up with friends I haven’t seen in ten years and don’t particularly like, cleaning the grouting between the shower tiles – you name it and I’ll do it instead of exercise.
I’ve always hoped that one morning I would just wake up with the sudden urge to exercise all the time and as much as possible. I watch the Olympics on television or I hear the Rocky theme music and I’m overcome with visions of me leaping out of bed to run 400 laps around the local oval in less than ten minutes. It has taken me a very long time to realise that no such thing happens to anyone. Ever.
But I have gotten better. I’m improving and I have discovered that above all else: motivation is key. Because nobody feels like exercising until they’re actually doing it – that’s when the fun bit kicks in.
I’ve had to come up with a few handy little tricks to beat that evil inner sloth. Some are sensible, some are simple, some are perhaps a little odd but they all work for me.
1) Try something new – with a friend.
One day, I got so sick of the same old exercise routine that I rang a friend and invited him to play tennis with me. I haven’t played tennis since school camp in primary school so I’m no Serena Williams – but who cares? We had a ball (no pun intended) despite spending a lot more time laughing at each other rather than actually playing. Make sure you try out a new sport or activity with a friend – at least the first time – because then you’re not tempted to give up too easily.
2) Buy yourself new gear.
There is no better motivation to exercise than investing in a pretty new outfit to do it in. How many times have you thought about running around the park and decided against it because you don’t want anyone to see you in your decade-old Mickey Mouse t-shirt, stinky grey trackpants and dirty ponytail? Exactly. It may sound superficial but buying a fun exercise outfit (think NEON!) can help you to actually look forward to getting out there.
3) Embrace incidental exercise
Take your new gear and then WEAR IT. All the time. On the weekends, I live in my exercise clothes because then I’m more inclined to do incidental exercise. I walk to the shops instead of driving, I run up stairs instead of walking, etc. You see? Incidentally active. Take that, inner sloth!
4) Sleep in your exercise gear.
I know this sounds ridiculous but this is what’s working the best for me this winter. It’s so cold in the mornings and I hate getting up knowing that I have to change out of my warm pyjamas and into my exercise clothes. Having my exercise gear already on when I get out of bed leaves no time for my brain to protest – all I have to do is roll out of bed, put my shoes on and stumble out the door. (Just make sure your gear is comfy – and ah, clean!)
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So tell us – how do you motivate yourself to exercise?