Tricks & Tips to Incorporate Exercise

Oh, sneakers. How I love thee.

There’s a stat flying around the universe that says that 80% of healthy living is what you eat, and 20% is how you move. While that might be the Truth According to Science, I find that, mentally, the two go more hand-in-hand—when I’m exercising and my body is feeling strong, it’s a lot easier to stick with eating well, and when I’m eating well, my body feels strong & powerful and wants me to move it. A lot of healthy living is a head-game, and making exercise a big part of my life helps me stay in that head-game a bit more easily. Yeah, it’s cool to notice the benefits of healthy living in how I feel, how I sleep, how pants fit, etc, but it’s cooler to notice them when I’m out running & go an extra few miles because I’m feeling strong. Right now, if I take a few days off from exercise (because I’m sick, depressed about arctic temperatures, or just lazy), it’s really easy to me to slip into a funk of, “uhhhhhhh,” and forget how flipping fantastic my body feels when I’m both eating well & exercising. Endorphins, man.

Integrating activity into your life (and eventually getting to the point where it’s part of how you identify yourself) is key, I think, for a life lived healthfully. There are approximately a bajillion different forms of exercise to match different abilities, limitations, passions, geographical locations, etc, and all of them are totally great. Whether you’re swimming, walking, biking, going to gym classes, dancing, running, or doing jumping jacks in your living room, you’re getting that heart rate up, burning calories, and treating your body brilliantly.

That all said, it’s not always easy to stay dedicated to a workout plan, so here are my favorite tips & tricks to do just that.

1) Ten Minute Rule

Don’t feel like working out? That’s fine. Just do it for ten minutes. You’re allowed to be as grumpy as you want during those ten minutes. Pout and yell and stomp and be angry that you had to take a break from your Regularly Scheduled Programming to get in some stupid exercise. If you still don’t feel like working out after you’ve been doing it for ten minutes, that’s fine. Stop—you got some activity in, and that’s great. But I bet that 90% of the time, you will keep going & finish that workout. I mean, you’re already sweaty… And then you will feel great, realize it wasn’t so bad at all, and fall in love with the Ten Minute Rule.

This guy and I have been through a LOT together!

2) Multi-Task

Exercise in itself does eventually become fun, but for when it’s not, why not use these things to perhaps make your workout more enjoyable?

Workout Buddies: Integrate your social life with your exercise. Last weekend some friends and I went to the gym together before our Chili/Cornbread/Beer/Football fest, and we all decided that “gymming” first made the whole day more enjoyable because our bodies felt happy and our minds easily justified second servings of everything. Workout buddies can motivate you to push harder, or just get up and go workout.

Music:  I don’t think this one needs an explanation – check out my Workout Playlists for what keeps me going!

I never would have thought these would be my favorite magazines!

watch TV at the gym: Same deal as music, in that it’s easy to forget that you’re working out when you’re also watching TV! When I was doing the Couch to 5k program, I watched the final and first seasons of Friends at the 5:30 TBS slot – figure out when the show you want to watch is on, and time your gym trip around that!

Magazines – you can’t feel guilty about reading trashy gossip magazines when you’re sweating! Or, be super fit and read a health-related magazine—that makes me feel seriously badass.

3) Integrate what you love

I love being outside, I love music, I like exploring and observing my surroundings, and I love dorky math stuff & charts. Running outside with my iPod, checking out my town (and people watching), and tracking my miles afterwards in a massive excel sheet combines these things perfectly for me. Figure out how you can make your exercise fit in with things that you enjoy.

finds like this are exactly why I love running outside!

I keep these race bibs on my mirror to remember the excitement that surrounded each one

4) Set Goals

Sign up for a race (click to find some races near you) or a charity walk/ride (friends & I are doing this ride in the summer) – it’s a great way to celebrate fitness with a ton of people, and also gives you something to work towards & be proud of once you complete. Another option is to set a goal to exercise for a certain number of hours a month, or run/walk a certain number of miles—I know a handful of people who are aiming to walk 1000 miles in 2011, which I think is awesome. Aim to complete the Couch to 5k program or the Hundred Pushups Training Program. Set goals which will challenge you and make you proud to complete.

5) Enjoy your Days of Rest

Fitness doesn’t happen when you’re running your brains out or doing a crazy number of pushups—it happens when your muscles are recovering from workouts & healing themselves to become stronger. I used to do an intense workout DVD every single day, and exercise became a total chore because my body was just always exhausted and I began to see activity as an obligation, rather than as something to enjoy. Days off from exercise as are important as days of exercise (both for your mind & for your body), so work hard to deserve them, and then enjoy them – I have one tomorrow and both my muscles & I are psyched for it.

6) Acknowledge That You Are Awesome For Exercising

Any sort of exercise, regardless of the intensity, the duration, whatever, benefits your heart, muscles, mind, and overall healthfulness. Anything you can squeeze into your day is great. Absolutely great.  Aim to never leave a workout thinking anything other than, “I’m flippin’ proud of myself for what I did right there,” even if at first you have to fake that thought a little bit. When both mental and physical happiness and satisfaction are associated with exercise, getting workouts in will the easiest thing in the world.

screen shot of a diverse exercise week last April. Oops, I guess I didn't know about trick #5 then! And, yes--that's 2662.06 miles moved total in 2010! 🙂

So those are my favorite tips – what am I missing?

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5 Comments to “Tricks & Tips to Incorporate Exercise”

  1. Gym buddies was my favorite!!! It should probably happen again 🙂

  2. Sarah…What’s the black tab on your sneaker? Do you track your running with it?

  3. You are seriously becoming my inspiration. I’m keeping your blog up as a tab on my laptop and this evening as I was sitting in my bed, about to turn on the tv, I noticed it and was like “WTF, get off your ass and do that 20 min dvd. THEN you can watch tv.” And then I did. The end. KEEP BLOGGING and KEEP KEEPING ME IN CHECK! xoxo

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