I am going to admit something. I didn't know "fitness hacks" were a thing until Lisa Davis asked me to chat about them on her show Talk Healthy Today. Now that I know what "hacks" are -- basically innovative ways to motivate or trick yourself into exercising -- I have become slightly obsessed with this fun way of reframing the classic concept of "exercise motivation." Thanks for the inspiration Lisa!
There are two important things to keep in mind while you read my list.
Harness the aspect of each "hack" that will allow you to use your own nature for "good" instead of "evil." If you enjoy being social, great. Instead of only being social at a bar, be social while you exercise (hack 4). If you hate being social, don't try to make fitness a social activity. Maybe listen to music (hack 1) while you run instead of while you sit and eat potato chips.
Always have a growth mindset; recognize what has and has not worked for you. Capitalize on what has worked. If buying fitness clothes (hack 5) motivates you, then do that. Learn from what has not worked. If you aim to work out in the morning (hack 7), but consistently snooze the alarm, figure out why you are tired (do you need to go to bed earlier?) or decide to work out at an alternative time.
Pick hacks that serve your personality and learn from all your experiences. When you fall off of your fitness horse -- it will happen; you are human -- get back on a more informed rider!
Ten Kathleen-Approved Fitness Hacks
Couple exercise with something you enjoy
Watch TV or listen to a podcast, an audio book or music as you work out. Better yet, have a program you are only allowed to listen to or watch when exercising.
Have an internal hashtag or a pep talk ready to go
We all have moments of low motivation. I love exercise and I still sometimes want to bail on a workout, but I don't. When I don't want to train, I use self-talk to convince myself to move.
I say, "Kathleen, you always feel better when you move. Your health quest is something you are doing for YOU. Moving is not a punishment; it is a privilege. If you don't want to do your entire workout, fine, but you have to do something. Something is always better than nothing. Just start."
Or I repeat simple internal hashtags. My current favourites are #IamWorthyOfSelf-Care, #TheWorseYourMoodTheMoreImportantTheWorkout and #PerfectionIsTheOppositeOfDONE.
Stop associating working out with the gym
Your workout doesn't have to be in a gym to be worthwhile. Thinking it does simply gives you another excuse to be inactive. Make your workouts convenient so you are more likely to do them consistently. If the gym is not convenient find an alternative. We all have enough reasons to skip a workout; don't make convenience one of them. Walk regularly, join a local sports team or set up a home gym. Just commit to something realistic -- anything -- and do it!
Get a fitness buddy
Friends make everything more fun. Plus, you are less likely to skip a workout if you are meeting someone. Meet your buddy and do fun fitness classes, go for a walk, do fun partner strength exercises at the gym or simply meet and do cardio on side-by-side machines.
With my friends I do everything from yoga to barre to boxing. Then we go get a tea and catch up.
Set goals and non-food-related rewards: a hot bubble bath, a new workout outfit or a movie with friends. Don't let yourself have the reward if you don't reach your goal.
Find someone who inspires you ... and learn from their experiences!
This could be someone from your real life or someone on social media. I am @KathleenTrotterFitness on Instagram (hint hint). Let your role model's healthy choices inspire you and their experiences inform your choices. No one who is successful succeeds the first time. Try sending a message to your social media guru, or ask the person who inspires you in real life how they overcame obstacles. Then extrapolate and apply their experiences to your own life.
Create unique strategies for success
Working out in the morning? Sleep in your exercise clothes. Have an unpredictable schedule? Always have a gym bag packed and ready to go. One of my clients gets up and puts her sports bra overtop of her night clothes and then hops on her treadmill. She knows that if she stops to change she will skip her workout. Basically, adopt the mindset that motion is a "non-negotiable." Then, create a unique plan that works for you.
Create friendly competition
Figure out what drives you. If you care about saving money, pay yourself every time you train. When you reach a pre-established amount, splurge on something you normally wouldn't buy. If competing with others is more your jam, sign up for ClassPass or a virtual activity tracker; compete with friends on how many classes you attend or how many steps you take.
Create visual reminders of your success
Have a calendar on the fridge and place a sticker on it every time you exercise, or create a spreadsheet or graph and record your workouts.
Make exercise FUN in any way possible
Join a fancy gym so you feel special. Don't like fancy? Join a sports team or a running group so that working out becomes a social experience.
As my mother said to me as a child, "find solutions NOT excuses." Figure out what drives you -- then do THAT. Build on the foundation of your inner nature; harness your personality, learn from every experience and always look for opportunities to move.
Follow Kathleen Trotter on Twitter: www.twitter.com/KTrotterFitness