I recently contributed this piece to a blog run by Jennifer Straver, my former classmate and friend from my undergrad days at the University of Toronto. Jenn is a former varsity volleyball athlete and is currently finishing up her Master's in education at the University of Windsor. Here is the original link to her blog.
I have to be honest. I really don’t like going to the gym, but I miraculously manage to get there a few times a week. Like the rest of you, I never regret going, but it’s much easier to talk myself out of going than to actually get up and do it. Over the last little while, I’ve found a few things that help me plow through the excuses/negative thoughts as I migrate from couch to gym. Please know that I’m writing this piece not to toot my own horn or act all high and mighty, but to provide some insight into my real life struggles of trying to motivate myself to get to the gym.
Find something you like (or can tolerate) doing.
Once I was an athlete—varsity in university and then professionally overseas. I love playing sports so working out should be easy for me right? Wrong. I decided pretty early on in my university career that I really don’t like lifting heavy weights, but I did anyway because it was required. Now? Nope. I was fortunate enough to figure out that body weight stuff and tension band exercises are sufficient to make me sweat. If you refuse to join a gym, find somewhere else to do a workout—yoga studio, crossfit, pilates, a high school track, your home.
Set a schedule.
Maybe you’re not the planning type, but when you view your physical activity time as an appointment, you’re more likely to keep it. Set aside whatever time you have (see #3) as many days as you can and put it in your phone. You don’t have to plan a week in advance, even the day before or day of is ok.
Go for as long as you want.
If you want to do 2 hours, all the power to you. If you only last 20 minutes, that’s ok too. I have found that I am a power hour (really 45 minutes) type when it comes working out. If I plan for any longer than that, my motivation plunges. I just make sure that I actually get a decent sweat on.
Congratulate yourself for going.
Rather than just punishing yourself with negative self-talk when you don’t go, really take the time to celebrate the small victories in life. When you do something that promotes your health and happiness, pat yourself on the back and give yourself some credit. It may sound silly, but when you make this a habit, you’ll find that you do more things that make you happy.
Figure out why you’re going.
I wrote this last, but it might actually be the most important. Most people say they want to go to the gym to lose weight or be healthy, but what are the real reasons? Why do you want to lose weight? What does healthy look like to you? How do you wish to look, feel, and think? These are sometimes hard questions to answer, but are all extremely important in determining behaviour.
Hopefully at least 1 of those 5 steps resonates with you. I’d love to hear what has/hasn’t worked for you! Feel free to reach out if you have any questions.
naturopathic doctor, naturopath, North York naturopath, Toronto naturopath, naturopath Yonge and Sheppard