I’ve been wanting to do this post for awhile because I feel like in the past few years I’ve finally gotten into a steady workout routine and can truly say that I feel better than I have in a long time. Anyone who knew me when I was younger would remember how un-athletic I am. I’ve always fairly skinny (thanks for the genes mom & dad) but it wasn’t the healthy kind of skinny. I didn’t play any sports growing up, and I was never one to suggest a game of kickball or capture the flag. I think I got frustrated with these games and sports because I didn’t feel like I was good at them. I have such a competitive nature and I channeled that into school and my music lessons, but when it came to sports I recognized that it was something I was not naturally good at so I would get frustrated and give up. I realize now, looking back, how immature that attitude was, but it wasn’t until college when I began to understand that exercise shouldn’t be about stressful competition, it should just be about bettering yourself and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Once I made that realization, I began taking steps to add exercise into my daily routine and I’ve felt better ever since that point. Now, I want to share 5 tips for how I not only added exercise into my regular routine, but actually began to enjoy and look forward to it.
1. Start with cardio.
I know what you’re thinking “cardio is the hardest place to start!” Yes, I totally get that, but if you start my building your endurance, all the other workout classes and exercises you try will seem that much easier. Now, when I decided that I wanted to start exercising about 4 years ago, I put on my sneakers and I went on a run. I didn’t have any goals set for myself, I just wanted to go for it and see how long I could run. Unfortunately, it turns out that was only about 2 minutes. After 2 minutes of running I was gasping for air and begging for relief. Of course this was discouraging, but it also motivated me to be able to get to a point where a 2-minute run would seem like nothing to me. After lots of Google searching on different programs that ease you into running, I decided to try the Couch-to-5K app. Although I was skeptical at first, I can honestly say this app completely changed my life. You have to set aside 40 minutes for cardio 3 times a week for 9 weeks total. The first few weeks you alternate between walking and running, and each week the amount of running increases until you can eventually run 30 minutes straight. A couple weeks into the program, I decided to sign up for a 5K for the week after I would finish the program. This was a great motivation for me to stay on track with the app, and it was such an incredible feeling to be able to finish that 5K two months later.
2. Try a variety of classes
Once I got the running piece down, I wasn’t as terrified to try out workout classes because I knew that even if I couldn’t lift the heaviest weights or couldn’t do as many push ups as the person next to me, I at least had the stamina to get through the class. So I started trying all sorts of new classes – Zumba, Body Conditioning, Kickboxing, Pilates, you name it! At the time, I was in college so we had a lot of classes available at our gym, but when I moved to NYC I made sure to join a gym that had a variety of classes so I could continue my workouts. I still like to switch up my workout classes every week but always make sure I maintain a balance of cardio (running, cycling, Zumba), weights (body conditioning), and stretching/balance (yoga). If you only go to the same class over and over, you’re only working the same parts of your body. By taking a variety of different classes, you get to work different parts of your body each time.
3. Add more walking into your daily routine
I know this has gotten much easier to track with Fitbits, iWatches, etc. but it really does make a difference to add some extra steps into your daily routine. I live on a 5th floor walk-up and I also walk to and from work every day, so even on days I don’t make it to the gym I feel like at least I got some steps in. I typically bring my lunch to work, but I still try to take a 10-15 minute walk outside during lunch time since I’m sitting the entire rest of the work day. When I’m home visiting my parents and I’m driving around town, I always try to park furthest away in the parking lot. Adding little lifestyle changes like these can make a big difference in burning some extra calories every day.
4. Find someone to be your workout buddy
When I first started running, I didn’t want to run with anyone else. I was embarrassed about my lack of endurance and didn’t want anyone else to see how un-athletic I was. Once I got to a place that I felt more confident in my abilities, I began saying yes when friends asked me to go to a workout class with them or go for a run with them, and I began to realize how much more fun it is! There’s something so nice about having a buddy on your workout so you can both motivate each other to keep going and get stronger.
5. Get some cute workout clothes!
Alright this is a fashion blog so I had to put this plug in at the end but I truly mean it! I always say that feeling confident in my outfit and my appearance helps motivate me to take on the day, and working out is no exception. When I have a cute workout outfit, it makes me that much more motivated to go for a run, go to the gym, or get to my workout class. And workout clothes don’t have to be expensive, I typically find all my workout clothes at off-price retailers or on sale. This also goes for sneakers/running shoes although here I would say it’s worth it to invest in a nice pair, especially for running. I alternate between Asics & Nike for running. Right now I have the Nike Epic React Flyknit Sneakers and they are hands down the best running shoes I’ve ever owned. Whichever ones you go for, just make sure they’re true running shoes and not training shoes.
I hope some of these tips help motivate you the next time you’re thinking about hitting the gym!