I used to read about it all the time. Tons of articles and blog posts saying “You need to establish a workout routine you actually enjoy following”. But I’ll be honest, I didn’t really believe it.
I’ve never been what people consider fat, but I gained and lost the same 12kg about a hundred times. Even when I was looking skinny, I wasn’t strong and toned. That didn’t bother me a lot though.
When I was younger, about 8 years ago, I used to love Power Jump classes. I went to the gym literally every day to do it, and I actually enjoyed every minute of it. It’s a great cardio workout, but without strength training my body was never where I wanted it to be.
In 2013 I decided to change that. I committed 100% and started running and lifting weights (I hated both). I also got nutrition perfectly in line, eating healthy meals and snacks every three hours, including carbs, protein and good fats. Of course, the results were great. It’s amazing what lifting can do for your body.
So I got in the best shape of my life, but I hated every minute of my workouts. I couldn’t decide if I hated lifting or running more. When I was at work during the day I kept thinking “I can’t believe I have to leave here and go to the gym”. Obviously that didn’t last long (about 6 months), and that’s the main problem.
Sticking to an exercise routine
Sadly, the chances of sticking to an exercise routine you don’t like are very slim. And usually that’s not what most people are looking for. We want a permanent change, something we can maintain in the long run to become part of a healthy lifestyle.
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I used to think that there was no point in doing only cardio or something I considered a “light” workout, like a dance class or a walk, because I would never get the perfect body from those. That’s true, I wouldn’t, but so what?
I thought I needed to lift weights to get the body I wanted, but I hated lifting weights, so I did nothing instead. Wouldn’t it be better to just stay active and do something?
The options are endless
There are literally hundreds of exercises and physical activities out there. If you try many of them, you are bound to like at least one. Just to name a few, your passion can be running, lifting, cycling, dancing, playing sports, doing yoga or pilates, swimming, rock climbing, functional training… it doesn’t matter. As long as you are moving your body and keeping your heart rate up, it’s a great choice.
The key to weight loss is consistency. Choose something you like and do it consistently. Even if it takes time, the results will come and will be much easier to maintain later on.
In my case, I fell in love with playing squash. It’s an amazing workout, and I don’t even see the time passing by. Now that I’m a digital nomad and change countries pretty much every month, I don’t have access to a gym or a squash court, so I’m still figuring out my exercise routine. I like many at-home workout videos like Insanity, so that’s all I’m doing right now, but who knows what else I can discover along the way?
Tips to enjoy your workout
Other than choosing an activity you like, there are other ways to make your workouts more enjoyable.
Here are a few tips:
Get a partner
I know that’s not always possible, but it’s definitely worth trying. If you have a friend or family member who wants to lose weight and live a healthier lifestyle as well, working out together can be a huge help to stay motivated.
If you make a commitment with someone, it’ll be much harder to skip the workout just because “you don’t feel like it”. You can push each other and achieve better results together. Listen to music
This one is huge for me. I honestly think music makes everything better. Time goes by so much faster when you are listening to music while working out. Not mention the instant energy boost you get from a really great song. It sure makes you want to run faster, jump higher and do more of whatever it is that you are doing. Experiment with different workouts
Some people are bored if they stick to the same routine for too long. To avoid that, it’s important to change things up every once in a while. If you like to run, for example, you can run on the treadmill, run on the street, run up a hill, change training programs, like do one HIIT running workout on one day and a distance running workout on another, and even register for a street run. You just have to be creative and willing to try new things. Choose something challenging but not overwhelming
The problem with many people is that they want to do it all on the first day. Going from zero to working out 6 times a week. Wanting to lift just as much as the guy at the gym who’s been doing it for years. That’s actually one of the best ways to kill your motivation (and possibly get injured).
Choose something that challenges you but that is also appropriate for your current fitness level. With time, you’ll certainly be able to do more intense workouts, but it’s important to start slow. Don’t feel discouraged because you can’t master all the movements in your first yoga class. Of course you can’t, but stick to it and you’ll see improvement over time. Set goals and track your progress This is something that has always worked very well for me in the past. Setting realistic goals is a great way to keep you motivated and actually make you look forward to your workout. The sense of accomplishment and satisfaction when you reach a challenging goal is truly amazing.
Don’t forget to always track your progress as well. You can find an app to do it or write it down on a notebook, it doesn’t matter, just take notes of what you’ve been doing so you can see how far you’ve come as time goes by.