One of the most common problems when it comes to losing weight is that many people strongly dislike exercise for a wide variety of reasons. For some people the thought of putting on Lycra and going to the gym fills them with fear. For others exercise is just plain boring. For others still even a small degree of exercise seems like more hassle than they’re willing to consider. And so on.
So let’s take a closer look at the concept of exercise and some ways in which you can develop the motivation to exercise and thus speed up your weight loss plan.
It’s OK Not To Exercise
Firstly it’s worth saying here that your diet is what will make up 80% or more of your initial success. As you get leaner and leaner exercise becomes ever more important to blast off those last few pounds but in the first stages of weight loss exercise really isn’t essential. Merely by “eating clean” you can shift significant amounts of fat though of course you’ll get bigger changes much faster if you are willing to exercise.
The point is this… If you really can’t face exercise (right now at least) then don’t use this as an excuse not to start losing weight. On the other hand if you’re serious about getting lean and developing a physique to be proud of appreciate that while exercise requires some effort the speed and size of the payoff will make that extra effort well worth your while.
Exercise First Thing In The Morning
It’s easy to try and put off exercise until later. Then life gets in the way – you have to stay late at work, you feel tired, one of your friends invites you round for the evening – and before you know it you’re getting into bed without having done your exercise for the day.
Consequently a very smart idea is to make exercising the first thing you do each day. Not only does this get your exercise done and out of the way so you don’t have to think about it all day but exercising first thing in the day also has a whole load of other benefits.
Firstly if you arrive at work after a workout you’ll still be experiencing the “buzz” of your workout. Oxygen will be coursing round your body and you’ll have an overwhelming feeling of energy and good vibes. It’s the best way to start the day and I love turning up to work exploding with energy while my colleagues are still downing coffees and walking round half asleep.
Secondly working out first thing in the morning is slightly hardcore. It seems to have street cred in many people’s minds. It makes you look serious. “Wow – you’ve already been to the gym this morning?!” they’ll ask with a mixture of shock and respect. It’s a nice feeling to impress someone before you even start your day properly!
When you wake up from a long night’s sleep you likely won’t have eaten anything for the last 8 hours or so. In this way your body is a it’s lowest calorie level for each 24 hour period. This means that cardio first thing in the morning can be highly beneficial as your body is forced to burn fat to give you the energy you need. Personally I have gotten great results from getting up, throwing on my shorts and heading straight out for a run. Then I get home and shower. And finally – normally at least 30 minutes after getting back from my run – I at last eat my breakfast.
As a side note should you be doing resistance training first thing in the morning try to eat breakfast before you go to help give you the energy boost you need to get the best results from your weight lifting.
Set yourself targets and goals of what exercise you will do when and consider rewarding yourself if you manage to meet those goals.
Physical challenges are a popular and evergreen way for charities to raise money for a good cause. Examples from here in the UK include the annual breast cancer awareness run and charities that will accept sponsorship if you run the London marathon.
By signing up for one of these “charity challenges” you often find that you are so much more motivated to exercise in readiness for the big event because if you fail to make the grade you’ll not only be letting yourself down but also the charity you’re trying to raise money for.
The peer pressure that would come from having to tell everyone who agreed to sponsor you that you failed at the challenge would simply be too much to handle and so this “accountability” will encourage you to keep on pushing your fitness levels to ensure you not only complete the challenge but also do something for a good cause into the bargain.
High intensity interval training (HIIT) is a form of cardio that is short but sweet. Rather than jogging for endless hours on a treadmill, HIIT workouts tend to be no longer than 30 minutes in length and often far less. HIIT is also better for fat burning than standard “steady pace” cardio so you will not only lose more weight but need to exercise less.
If you’re busy or hate exercising then getting the best results from the shortest amount of time possible is really where the money’s at.
Focus On The Most Effective Exercises
In a similar vein there are some resistance exercises that are typically far better for fat burning than others. Once again this means more results in less time. Some of the most effective exercises for fat loss are compound exercises where you exercise multiple muscle groups at the same time. From my perspective I am a huge fan of kettlebell swings, squats and good old-fashioned press-ups, each of which works huge numbers of muscles at once and so uses more calories than an exercise which simply works your biceps or your shoulders for example.
Buy An MP3 Player
For many people the idea of cardio is enough to send them to sleep. The idea of running for hours on end on a treadmill staring into space is hardly the most exciting way to spend your time. One way to make your exercise more interesting is to invest in an mp3 player so you can listen to audio books, podcasts or some pumping club music thus keeping your mind active while you’re working out.
Find A Physical Activity You Actually Enjoy
While certain exercises are better than others for weight loss it’s important to realize that arguably the best form of exercise of all is one you enjoy doing. Sure, it may not burn as many calories per hour as a short, sharp HIIT session or pumping iron in the gym but if you find a physical activity you enjoy then you’re far more likely to stick to it and over the long term you’ll see some significant results.
Finding exercises you actually enjoy means you’ll want to do them simply because they’re fun rather than simply doing them because you want the end result of a better physique. So take some time to investigate your local area and find out what sorts of activities are available to you.
Personally speaking I enjoy horse riding and playing tennis with friends on a regular basis, I love going on nature walks and I’m just about to start rock climbing. Each of these passions I do simply because I love doing them – but each of them helps me to stay in shape and burn calories while I’m having fun – in stark contrast to hanging out in the bar or in-front of the TV where you’ll likely be putting on weight rather than burning it off.
Relish The Endorphin Buzz
When you really challenge your body with a tough workout it’s quite normal to feel a little tired, hot and shaky at the end of it. But shortly afterward you start to feel a real “buzz” as your body starts pumping out the “feel good” hormones called endorphins. Somehow they give you an amazingly positive and energetic feeling.
So when you finish exercising and have taken a few minutes to recover and get showered, pay attention to this feeling of “buzz”. Learn to look for it and relish it because it’s one of the best feelings around. This, for me, is often reward enough for a decent workout and can last for quite some time afterward.
Notice How You Sleep Better
In general most people find that regular exercise helps to regulate your sleep better. It clears your head, tires you out physically and requires sleep in order to repair the damage you do during exercise. Consequently after a week or two of exercise you will often find that you are sleeping much more soundly and waking up feeling far more rejuvenated and ready for the day rather than forcing yourself out of bed against your will in the morning, begging for just another few minutes of sleep.
Once again, look for these changes in your sleep patterns and enjoy the feeling of waking up fully revitalized and ready for the day.
Consider Where You Exercise
Some people find going to a gym tremendously motivating because you get to be surrounded by plenty of other people all working towards similar goals. You’re able to feel that you’re not the only one trying to get in shape and furthermore you’re surrounded by all the pieces of equipment you could ever need to meet your goals.
However other people find being trapped inside under artificial lighting makes them feel like a lab rat and they’d far rather be going for a run along the beach. Still others feel uncomfortable in the gym environment and would rather exercise privately a home.
Consider your own feelings and thoughts on where you will feel most motivated to exercise and where you think you will get the best workout. It’s entirely possible to achieve the physique you desire whether you join the gym, exercise outside or at home so take some time to consider which option is going to work best for you.