For 15 days, we’re exploring the topic of making our health and well-being a priority as part of the 15 Days to a Healthier You series. You can read Day 1 here, Day 2 here, Day 3 here, Day 4 here, Day 5 here, Day 6 here, Day 7 here, Day 8 here, Day 9 here, Day 10 here, and Day 11 here.
Exercise is often one of the thing that tends to get pushed to the back burner when schedules are busy, but starting the day with a little exercise is one of the best ways to wake you up and make you feel energized for the rest of the day.
If you’re dragging along and feeling like you’re lacking energy and enthusiasm for life, exercise just might be the best antidote.
Exercise is one of those things that you’ll likely never regret doing. Instead of making excuses as to why you can’t find time to exercise, change your mindset and start thinking of ways to you can fit some exercise into your morning — or somewhere in your day!
Your health is worth the sacrifice of a little time, sweat, and effort. And the trickle down benefits you’ll experience the rest of the day — in having more energy, feeling more encouraged, and feeling stronger — will make it all the more worthwhile.
If you struggle to regularly exercise, here are some practical ideas and suggestions — none of which require you to hire a personal trainer, invest a lot of money in workout equipment, or buy a gym membership!
1. Check Out a DVD From the Library
If you can’t afford to pay for a gym membership or a trainer, check out the workout DVD selection at your local library. Typically, they have quite a large variety to choose from.
I’ve found exercise DVDs are a great way to mix things up — especially if my current routine seems like it’s becoming a bit mundane. And it’s a lot less inhibiting (especially as an introvert!) to work out in your basement or living room, rather than in a group of people at a class at the gym! 🙂
2. Watch Exercise Videos Online
Can’t make it to the library? The internet is goldmine of exercising videos and resources. Here are some links to get you started:
- Fitness Blender — This site offers free full-length workout videos for guys and girls. They tell you the time it will take, the calorie burn, the area the workout targets, and the intensity level.
- The Best FREE Workout Videos on YouTube — If you search for free full-length workouts on YouTube, it’s going to pull up a TON of options. Greatist has put together a list of the top 21 FREE workouts on YouTube that would be a great place to start.
- The Top 10 Workout Channels on YouTube — You can also check out Shape magazine’s recommended Top 10 Workout Channels here.
3. Experiment With New Things
If you don’t enjoy exercising, there’s a good chance it’s because you’ve not yet tried enough different kinds of exercise options to find one that works best for you.
Exercise doesn’t have to mean going to the gym and sweating it out on the treadmill. It could be a walk at the park with your friend, or playing basketball with your son, or swimming together as a family at the neighborhood pool, or taking a family bike ride, or walking around the mall with your husband.
There’s pretty much something out there for everyone, so keep trying things until you land upon something you love. I’ve done exercise DVDs, running, walking, bike riding, the elliptical, and this year tried my hand at rock-climbing, snow-boarding, knee-boarding, and fell in love with weight-lifting.
I didn’t know that I’d fall in love with weight-lifting. Honestly, I thought I would hate it. But I made myself go out and start doing it every day and committed to stick with it for a few weeks.
At the end of a few weeks, I realized that it wasn’t the torture it once was. Instead, there was a little part of me that was enjoying it — much to my shock. And the more I’ve done it, the more I’ve fallen in love with it!
Remember That Something is Better Than Nothing
If you only have five minutes in the morning to exercise, then exercise for five minutes. Sure, you’re probably not going to get the benefits of a 45-minute workout in five minutes, but you can definitely work up a little sweat and get your heart pumping with a short and intense workout.
Do what you can do with the time you have. Something is always better than nothing when it comes to exercise.
4. Find a Workout Partner
Teaming up with someone else can be a great way to be more successful when it comes to fitness. Why? Because it’s amazing how much it will motivate you to actually follow through with your plan when you know someone else is going to show up and hold you accountable!
Find someone to meet you for a morning jog, to come over and do that exercise DVD with you multiple times per week, or ask who will text or email you and see if you followed through with the goals you set for exercise each day. There are also many different online accountability forums and Facebook groups (or you could start your own!) for whatever exercise program or regimen you want to do.
I’m currently working out with my husband and a good friend every week day using a pretty intense workout plan Jesse put together based on the book Thinner, Leaner, Stronger. We work out every week day at 5 a.m. There’s incredible accountability to get up and get out of bed when you know that someone is showing up at your house at 5 a.m. to work out!
While the workouts are kicking my tail and I sometimes have a bad attitude because they are hard, I’m now at the stage where I’m all, “Bring it on!” Why? Because I have SO much more energy, feel so much better, and am already seeing some real, legit muscles in places where I’ve never seen them before. Plus, if I take a few days off, I can tell a difference — I feel more sluggish and unmotivated and I don’t sleep as well.
The best part is that my husband absolutely LOVES that I’ve become one of his workout partners. Our workouts in our garage “gym” every day have become one of our very favorite parts of the day! We cheer each other on, we sometimes tease each other, we have deep conversations while we’re resting between sets, we laugh, we process through hard things in our lives.
5. Set Small Goals
A lot of people want to lose weight or run a marathon, but wanting to do something won’t get you anywhere. You have to actually set a goal and break it down into bite-sized, realistic pieces if you want to be successful.
What are your fitness goals? What tiny steps can you can take this week to help you get where you want to be in six months from now?
If you’ve never exercised before, don’t expect that you’ll be running five miles in a few weeks. Start slowly, set small goals, and focus on the progress you’re making (even if it seems tiny) instead of being discouraged by the fact that you’re not where you want to be.
You’d rather slowly build up your endurance and stamina then to try to do much more than you’re capable of and end up burning yourself out before the first week of exercise is over with.
Tip: What motivates you? Plan some rewards for when you hit your goals. Maybe you decide to put a quarter in a jar every time you exercise for 25 minutes and then you can use this money on a little special treat (coffee at the coffee shop, a used book from Amazon, etc.) every few weeks.
6. Track Your Progress
Don’t just think about the goals in your head; actually put them on paper (or on an app!) and then track your progress.
Each week, keeping a log of the workouts you do, how much time you worked out for, or how many miles you ran. This will inspire you to keep going, will encourage you as you see yourself growing stronger and building endurance.
There are many different online sites to help you track your progress such as: MyFitnessPal, SparkPeople, or Nike+. All of these have cool features that make logging your exercise time more rewarding.
I got a Jawbone UP3 earlier this year and it has literally made SUCH an impact on my life. I realized within a few days that I was getting a lot less sleep and was a lot more sedentary than I realized. The band has inspired and motivated me to make sleep and exercise a much higher priority.
It’s amazing how motivating the act of setting goals, breaking them down into small pieces, and then tracking your progress can be. You can do this — one step at a time!
Day 12 Project
1. Choose one type of exercise or exercise regimen that you are going to commit to doing for the next two weeks.
2. Tell someone you’ve made this commitment — or post it in the comments here or on Facebook or other social media space.
3. Ask someone to keep you accountable to stick with your plan. Make sure you tell them what you are planning to do and when you are planning to do it.
4. Track your progress and check in with your accountability partner regularly. You can do this!!
Looking for some more practical help?
- Want to take things to the next level? Consider becoming an exercise instructor so you can earn money while burning calories! Or, a simpler idea is to burn calories while collecting Coke points that you can cash in for gift cards!
- Need some more practical ideas? Here are 7 ways to save money and stay motivated while getting fit and six tips for losing weight on a budget.
- Struggling with negative self-talk about how you’re just not cut out for fitness or regular exercising? Read this post on simple steps to change your mind so you can change your life and this post on how three small things can add up to a changed life.
- If you’d love to lose some extra weight, but you’re on a budget and can’t afford a gym membership, diet programs, or a personal trainer, don’t despair! See how MaryEllen lost 33 pounds and has kept it off for five years — and she only spent $30 out of pocket to do so!