Reward YourselfRemember when you were a kid and got a sticker or toy from the treasure box after a successful trip to the doctor or dentist? The same concept applies here. Do something you don’t really want to do, and get rewarded. While the proof is in the pudding, studies has shown the reward system to be highly effective. Research conducted by the Copper Institute showed that people who reward themselves for their hard work are two to three times more likely to meet the physical activity guidelines set by the ACSM then people who don’t treat themselves. So what type of rewards are we talking about here? It can be as simple as a soothing fruit smoothie with a drizzle of chocolate or a rousing episode of Game of Thrones. If food or TV is not enough to prompt a trip to the gym, think bigger. Maybe you’ll be more eager to do those 20 reps of sit-ups if there’s a trip to the spa or beach in your future. In time, you may not need a reward system at all. The brain is a fascinating thing. As you begin to associate the pain, sweat and hard work of exercise to a healthier, stronger and toner physique, your motivation to workout will come naturally.
Call a FriendFriends can be great motivational tools. Sure, you could go to the gym by yourself, but with a friend in town, you’re more likely to push yourself to the limit. Going to the gym gives you accountability. It’s easy to back out of a scheduled gym date when you’re going solo, but cancelling plans with a friend is a bit more complicated. Exercising with friends also means that you’re forced to schedule your plans ahead of time, reducing the likelihood of a skipped workout. Exercising with friends is also a fantastic motivation booster. Instead of calling it quits, your friend will likely push you to finish a rep or keep going for “just 10 more minutes”. These extras can really add up. Don’t forget to be a good friend and return the favor. Need that competitive edge to really up your drive? Burning more calories is easier when you’re working out with someone that you perceive to be better and can increase your workout time and intensity by up to 200 percent, according to a Kansas State University study. Who’s up for a little friendly competition?
Hire a Personal TrainerNot all of us have fitness enthusiasts as friends, which can make it a little difficult to call one when we want accountability at the gym. What’s even better than a friend? A personal trainer. You’ll no doubt feel obligated to go, even if you really don’t feel like it. Of course, there’s other perks of hiring a personal trainer besides accountability. He or she can likely help you work towards your goal, whether it’s shedding extra belly fat or toning up your midsection. An experienced personal trainer will also know the right way to proceed. For example, he or she may recommend breaking down your goal into more manageable, realistic chunks. If you’re a newcomer to the gym, a personal trainer can also help you find your bearings. Sure, you’ve might have heard negative things about personal trainers, but don’t worry. Most are not as scary as you would presume. Many are friendly individuals who are able to provide newbies like you the “tough love” you need to get in shape. Maybe you don’t want to go to the gym because you don’t really know what you’re doing? Yeah, it can be embarrassing when you don’t quite know what a machine is for or you don’t know how many reps to do, but that’s what personal trainers are for. When you hire a personal trainer, you can get step-by-step instructions how to perform each exercise the right way. Not only can you master some complicated workouts, you can also significantly reduce your risk of injury.
Track Your ProgressThere’s no bigger motivation zapper than lack of progress. If you’re working out consistently and watching your diet, you’re probably getting healthier, thinner and toner. However, you may not be seeing results as fast as you’d like. While you can’t always speed up your weight loss, you can enhance your enthusiasm to keep chugging along. Just track your progress. Even a small but steady decline in your weight can help persuade you to hit the gym. With modern technology, tracking your fitness progress is easier than ever. No need to manually count calories. The Lose It! app connects you with other folks looking to melt away excess fat and provides an easy-to-use program for counting calories. Other apps like MyFitnessPal make keeping a daily food journal a cinch.
Dress the PartWe’ve all heard the phrase “dress for success.” But does it really apply to working out at the gym? According to a couple of Northwestern researchers, the answer is yes it can. According to their reasoning, when you wear athletic clothing, you become more active and more inclined to go to the gym. Dressing for the gym should contain elements of both style and practicality. You don’t want your shirt to be too loose as it could catch in a machine, causing a safety hazard. You also don’t want your clothes to be too tight and uncomfortable. Just as important, you want to feel strong and confident in your own skin. So where’s the perfect balance? For men, shorts are the obvious choice. Keep your top simple with a comfy t-shirt made from a moisture-wicking material. For the ladies, a pair of athletic pants will do in a pinch. Skip the short-shorts that can make you feel self-conscious and draw unwanted attention. For your top, stick to a sleeveless top or athletic shirt. Having the right accessories can also up your exercise game. A pair of quality athletic shoes are a must, as well as a water bottle and iPod stocked with your go-to songs for getting “in the zone.” Throw all of your workout gear essentials in one of our nifty fitness bags and you’re ready to go.
Eat BreakfastWith depleted energy levels, the last thing you want to do is exercise at the gym. Did you know that eating breakfast can supercharge your fat burning abilities and fuel your body for an intense gym workout? Your diet can have a significant impact on your fitness regimen. When you skip breakfast, you’re not going to have the energy to run on the treadmill or lift weights. If you’re having difficulty with your meal choices, keep a food journal. When it’s in writing, you’ll be less likely to eat junk and more likely to choose healthy foods that will help give your energy and performance a kick start. The best post-workout breakfast is light, fresh and low in carbs. While a little fat and protein is okay, it’s best to keep it minimal as they are harder for the body to digest which can lead to cramping. You’ll also want to hold off on any high fiber foods too. For your mini breakfast, choose small portions of simple meals using whole, healthy ingredients. Examples include a cup of yogurt sprinkled with granola, a whole wheat English muffin smeared with nut butter, a cup of low-fat cottage cheese mixed with chunks of fresh fruit, or a smoothie with a blend of your favorite fruits and vegetables. Remember, skipping breakfast is not worth the extra calories saved. When you skip a meal, you’ll be more likely to overindulge during your next meal. You also run the risk of chowing down some mid-morning snacks rich in fats and sugar.