I realize that not everyone is going to look at exercising as the highlight of their day or the passion of their life. Although there are things about working out that some may never enjoy there are a few things that will make the experience a little easier to digest. Here are some small, easy changes we can all make to start enjoying the gym a just a little more.
I'll never forget the first time I took a Bikram Yoga class, and not just because I literally didn't know that much sweat could come out of my body, but more specifically, I recall a moment after the grueling standing series when the instructor advised the class to take a moment to acknowledge ourselves in the mirror and smile. At the time, this piece of instruction evoked a MAJOR eye roll from me but reluctantly, I obliged and the most amazing thing happened, my whole attitude lightened.
As cheesy as it sounds, just lifting the corners of my mouth and nodding to myself in the mirror made the rest of the class more enjoyable, even for a cynical gal like myself. I felt more connected to my body and more grateful that I was there. The point of my somewhat longwinded story is, studies show that even faking a smile can generate authentic happiness and can make a negative experience a little sweeter. Seriously, try it during your next gym session. After you finish the last set of your least favorite exercise (for me, that's jump lunges...WORST!) look at yourself and smile. I promise that it will bring a little more levity to your workout, or any experience for that matter. In fact, lets practice right now...Go ahead, smile.. Now tell me you don't like this article more already!
Don't underestimate the value of a good playlist! The right track can help set the pace of the exercise, help inspire more energy and keep you going when you want to quit. Best of all it can make a workout FUN! For me it varies, sometimes I need some hardcore hip-hop to get me hyped. Other times call for that embarrassing '90s pop playlist. (Don't lie, everybody has at least one on rotation!) So, if you see me lip-syncing Britney while holding a plank or shaking my butt between sets, you'll know what playlist is pumping through my earbuds. Ask yourself what gets you pumped up? What makes you feel invincible? Figure that out, turn it on and crank it up! I promise it will make a monotonous sweat session a lot more tolerable.
Leave the Phone Alone
No burpee or plank can compare to the anguish of working out while stressed out! Exercise is scientifically shown to be a major stress reducer, but that can all be counteracted if you literally bring your stress (a.k.a your phone) into the gym. The gym is meant to be a zen zone. It's one of the only times in your day (other than the shower, perhaps) where you can shut everyone and everything else out and just focus on yourself. By checking your messages during your session you are bringing yourself back to a place where you are connected and concerned about things other than you. Work emails, meeting reminders, even a call from your grandmother -- these are all things that can set your mind into a tailspin of to-do lists and anxiety and take your mind off the sweaty task at hand. Whatever it is, it can wait...in your locker!
Take the bad days, off!
Sometimes we just need a break...ya, you heard me! There are times when all signs point towards rest and relaxation. Maybe you're sore from that hardcore spin class you did yesterday, you're coming down with a cold, or you're just exhausted from a few sleepless nights. The point is, there are certain instances, every now and then, when pushing through a rough day could actually backfire. Now, please don't confuse this as an excuse to indulge the moments when you're just feeling lazy and unmotivated. What I'm saying is, if you know your body or mind is really not up to it, pressuring a workout could end up with feelings of resentment towards the gym. You're supposed to leave there feeling better (and possibly a little more sore) than you did when you arrived. Listen to your body and trust your intuition. Activity is meant to improve your wellbeing, not set you back. Shake it off, get some rest and try again tomorrow.
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