With the holidays right around the corner, you may have the urge to curl up in a ball on the couch and start winter hibernation immediately. But don’t put an oversize sweater on and put a hold on your gym membership just yet! You CAN stay super motivated to work out all winter long.
The secret is in how you view your exercise time. Just like with a nourishing diet, the key to a sustainable, healthy lifestyle is that you WANT to take those healthy steps each day. If you feel like you have to force yourself to exercise or you’re skipping it more often than not, here’s how to start changing how you view working out:
DON’T treat it like a punishment
Don’t think of exercise as a way to “work off” your food. In fact, it would serve you best to completely remove calories from your workout vocabulary, and separate food from exercise in your mind.
While working out does burn calories, at the end of the day your diet is so much more important than exercise when it comes to weight loss. Both food and exercise have so much more to offer you (and are so much more complex) than simply adding or subtracting calories. So don’t punish yourself with exercise for the sake of trying to lose weight – it doesn’t make sense, and it will make you hate doing it!
Video on why exercise can help with losing weight, but it’s not the most important thing:
DO treat it like a reward
Make 100% of your workout about self love. Your exercise is “me” time that you’re taking to heal and nourish your body. Don’t make it about working off a “problem area” or any negative thoughts about your body. Exercise has SO MANY positive effects on your body, so focus on all the benefits you’re getting, including…
Increasing happiness – My top motivation for working out is my mental health, not my physical health! I just feel so much more positive on the days I work out. Many studies have shown that exercise for at least 30 minutes, three to five times a week is as effective or more effective than antidepressants at elevating mood and raising serotonin levels.
Decreasing stress – Exercise is amazing for reducing the effects of high cortisol levels associated with stress.
Slowing aging – Do it for vanity reasons – to look younger! It’s well documented that regular exercise slows aging of the body and the brain.
Improving your skin – Ever notice that your skin looks glows after you work out? That’s not just your imagination. Exercise stimulates your lymphatic system, aiding in detoxification.
Getting strong – I love using free weights and doing bootcamp type classes to tone up – weight bearing exercise is just the most efficient for me for tightening up my body. It’s also wonderful for increasing bone density and preventing osteoporosis.
A more efficient metabolism – Remember when we said that burning calories is less important than you think? “The primary value of exercise as part of a weight-control regimen lies in its profound effects on modulating levels of cortisol, testosterone, growth hormone, serotonin, and metabolic rate (with cortisol and sertonin control being responsible for many of the “feel good” effects of the workout). (The Corisol Connection.)
Preventing chronic disease – According to a recent study in a leading health journal, “Regular physical activity reduces the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, dementia and some cancers by at least 30%.”
Do what you like to do. You don’t have to be doing a hardcore bootcamp every time to see results. Do what you enjoy, whether that’s yoga, barre, dance, tennis, walking, running, biking etc. Connect working out to your social life by joining a recurring class or a sports club where you see the same people, or make workout dates with friends.
If you have access to a steam room or sauna where you work out, use it! Take 30 minutes to decompress and enjoy the healing powers of the heat. Find a podcast you like (I love “Missed in History”!) and power walk for 30 minutes while you listen to it. The more you connect exercise with something pleasureable, the more you’ll want to do it!
Don’t make yourself work out if you’re sick or tired. Extreme amounts of exercise can actually be stressful on your body. You don’t need to force yourself to work out if you’re just not feeling up to it that day. Or, take it easy and just do something soothing like some yoga or walking. It’s not all or nothing, and any exercise is beneficial!
Appreciate your body and everything it does for you, and you’ll want to take care of it. You may also notice that the more you work out, you just naturally crave healthier foods as a side effect. It’s a upward spiral! How do you keep yourself motivated to work out?? Comment below!