Thursday, April 16, 2015

Make Your Gym Habit Stick (Three Tips)

I used to be a gym rat.  I didn't go every day, but I went several times a week and I stuck to my routine.  After a summer spent outside, dedicated to my running goal, and a fall spent getting and getting over a respiratory infection.... I fell out my gym habit, hard.

My schedule no longer had regular gym days built in, and I lost interest in some of the classes I used to attend religiously.  In December, I was finally able to re-instate my healthy habits, and--so far--I'm meeting my January goal of three workouts weekly.  For this reason, I thought it's the perfect time to discuss ways that I manage to stick to my gym habit, and how you can, too.

Maybe YOU set a new year's resolution to go to the gym more often, try a new type of exercise class, or become a runner.  Whatever your commitment is, here are some tried and true ways to ensure you meet your fitness goals:

Make Your Gym Habit Stick 
with These 3 Tricks:

1. Schedule Your Workouts in your Calendar.  

Treat your workouts--whether it's a solo run, a group fitness class, or a buddy gym session--like any other appointment: Write it in your calendar.  This changes your gym trip from an optional leisure-time activity to a no-excuses commitment.  If someone wants to make plans at that time, don't feel bad about asking for a different date or time.  If your exhaustion or sniffles wouldn't have been enough to keep you home from a work meeting or a date, then they shouldn't keep you home from the gym, either.

2. Prepare Your Bag Ahead of Time 

For many, the hardest part of getting to the gym is simply getting ready.  Although it's not difficult to put clothes and sneakers on, it's often the biggest thing that prevents me from simply getting up and getting out the door.

If you work out in the morning straight from home, prepare the night before: lay out one complete gym outfit, visible and ready to wear.  That way, in the morning, you'll get up and before you're even aware of it, you'll be dressed and ready to go.

If you're like me and need to pack a bag to hit the gym after work, prepare that bag the night before, too.  Pack your complete gym outfit, your sneakers, a lock, headband, water bottle, and any other supplies you need for the gym.  Have the bag all set and ready to go and leave it right by your front door.  When you head out in the morning and bring it with you, that's your commitment gears in motion.

After carrying around the bag all day, you're bound to follow through and go, right?

3. Create Accountability

This one's huge. Don't just commit to yourself to go; make your commitment known to others!  By letting others know about--or having others rely on--your intention to hit the gym, you'll feel compelled to follow through!  Even if it's late after a long day of work, there are several ways to create accountability that will get you into the gym:

  • Find a Gym Buddy: Make plans with a friend to go to the gym together.  You'll be counting on each other, so you'll think twice before backing out on your fitness plan. 
  • Make Your Intention Known: Let others know that you're planning to go to the gym today. Tell your spouse, roommate, coworker... whoever will listen! Make it known that you intend to go, so that when the time comes to either head to the gym or head home, you head to the gym. 
  • Sign Up for Something: By signing up for either group fitness classes or personal training sessions, you'll be creating the same sense of commitment -- and often an actual commitment -- that will ensure you make it to the gym. 
Like these tips? Share them!

Those are three tricks that have worked for me -- have they worked for you?  What advice might you add for gym newbies?  

If you're starting up or reviving YOUR gym habit, dare you to give these tricks a try and let me know how it goes!! 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Don't Check

Tracking your mileage is great... except when it's not.

Today, when my evening activity got cancelled and the sun was still strong, I decided to lace up and go for a run. My plan was 20-30 minutes, another nice jog, although this time I wanted to take fewer walking breaks than last week's runs.  I set my Nike running app on my phone to start, and when I heard the music, took off.

Gorgeous day for a run!

After a long day at work, I was tired, not expecting much from my legs.  Instead, I started out strong!  I felt great. My shins were bothering me a bit, but breathing was steady. The gorgeous weather was the perfect pick-me up and my old 10k playlist had me going with the beat.  I actually think I was going quickly, probably closer to a 9-minute mile than last week's 11-minute joggers.  I kept looking forward to the moment the app would tell me my first mile was complete and what the time was.... except it didn't come.

I passed the spot that I know to be about a mile in my regular run, but no announcement by Miss Nike; the music just kept playing.  After one more song, I finally took out my phone to see for myself what was going on; I wanted to know my pace!

NOOOOOooooooo. It didn't track. Even though my music was playing, the run was paused for some reason, never really started.  I felt so bummed, as though the whole mile was a waste!  WAHHHHH

Except duh, I still ran it. It happened. My heart and legs got whatever benefit they would have regardless of whether my phone recorded my mile or not.

Still, that little mishap put a damper on the rest of my run.  Further, my shin pain got worse, and I gave in to it and started walking.  Then, I reached the section of my run with excess construction dust and car pollution -- NOT pleasant.  So the rest was a bust!  I did another mile and a half, but it was slow and involved a lot of walking. I'd lost the drive that powered my first mile.

Had I not checked my phone, would my shin have still hurt and the dust clogged my throat? Probably. Would it have bothered me as much?  Probably not.  Maybe I wouldn't have noticed the dust, and maybe I'd have powered through my pain. Maybe the rest of my run would have been as powerful as the first mile.

MAYBE! Who knows. I let my app failure spoil my fun. 

Don't get me wrong; I love the app. I'm all for tracking and celebrating and improving. But maybe, once you're in the zone, don't take the risk of spoiling it by checking in. Instead, eyes on the road! 

And if all else fails, shake it off with some calming chamomile :)

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Make a Comeback

Excuse me while I dust off this page...

HELLO!!!!  The sun is coming back, and so am I.  As April finally appears to be letting spring in, I'm finally returning to some of the things I love: running, drawing, reading, and BLOGGING!  Time for new posts, new dares, new updates, and more.  In the fall and winter, I was feeling beat and fatigued, and blogging was simply not my priority. This time away has made me miss writing, dares, and you, so I'm back!

And with new toys!

I'll be bringing a combination of dares for you and updates from life over the past few months as I catch up.  While I don't think I've taken on any new huge challenges since the fall, I've been working on maintaining the dares I began way back when, and maintenance matters.

One thing thing that I did not maintain was running.  After my first 10k race in September and then backing off when I was sick, I simply stopped running.  It got cold, and after months off it, the treadmill just didn't feel like a good option.  I did ease back in to exercising (I've been doing BODYPUMP once-twice/week), but not running.

This week, the sun was shining and the temperature passed 50, so I laced up and hit the road.  It certainly was a "first run back" and I struggled at times, but it also felt great to be out in the open air again, flying on my feet with the sun on my face.  I don't always love running, but I do love running outside.

That was Monday, and I hit the road again this morning.  Both times were a steady jog (about 11-min/mile pace), and I had to stop and walk a few times, but I have faith that I'll regain my endurance and (moderate) speed with time.  Spring, I'm ready for you!

And I promise I'll keep updates here :)

Happy Spring!