Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Reluctant Exerciser

I hate to exercise. I really wish I liked it, but I just don't, and never, ever have. I am not naturally athletic at all--in fact, you might go so far as to say "super-clumsy and awkward"--and if I had the choice between exercising and sprawling on the couch with a blanket and a book or a movie, I would pick lounging every single time.

But I do exercise. I often struggle to keep it up regularly, but I do it. I exercise because I recognize that my body does feel a lot better when I'm staying active, and because it's apparently not just an urban legend that regular exercise helps you manage your weight and stay toned. And now, with the wedding approaching, I'm trying really hard to exercise several times a week, so that I look and feel great when the day rolls around. So for all you grudging and reluctant exercisers, maybe it will help to see some of the things I, your kindred spirit, do to keep myself motivated, active, and fit.

Fitness Classes
I love doing group exercise classes for two reasons. One, they push me to work out hard, for a good amount of time. Left to my own devices, I will pop onto the elliptical machine for a fluffy 25-minute "workout" while catching up on my Oprah reruns on the little TVs and call it a day. Two, they force me to get my money's worth out of my gym membership. One of my friends refers to her monthly gym dues as "charitable donations," and I strive to avoid that. I might hate exercising, but I REALLY hate feeling like I'm pouring my money down the toilet. I am much more likely to go to the gym when I feel like I have an "appointment" at a certain time. I am super, super uncoordinated, so I often look and feel approximately like this while in my fitness class:


but I think it's fun, which is really a high endorsement coming from me. If you don't have a gym membership, I've heard that those classes where you run around and do workouts on playgrounds and whatnot also get GREAT results.

Exercise Videos

My personal favorite Jillian Michaels-ism is when she tells me I should be "gargling my heart."

I rely on this woman for all of my home fitness needs. I own 30 Day Shred and No More Trouble Zones, and they are both fabulous. They're really challenging--No More Trouble Zones much moreso than 30 Day Shred, in my opinion--which is what I want in exercise DVDs. My philosophy is that if I'm going to skip the gym in favor of springing around my living room in a bra and pajama pants, it should probably be the equivalent of an actual gym trip. I think Jillian's DVDs are.

Trick Yourself Into Exercising
When Mr. O and I lived in Las Vegas, we sometimes liked to go hike in Red Rock Canyon (which was right near our apartment) or travel outside the city to Mt. Charleston. That way, it's not an hour and a half of cardio! It's a quiet, scenic date with your fiance!

Bonus of desert hiking: you might, to your GREAT excitement, come across a wild burro!

Reward Yourself
This might sound frivolous to some, but for me, it's actually a really important motivating factor in keeping myself active. If I don't have anything to look forward to and to spur me in continuing to work out, I will give up, for a long period of time, until I feel guilty enough to start again. So, I give myself little presents for accomplishing my goals. Note: your reward for exercising shouldn't be something totally counterproductive--i.e., food. Although I have an epic passion for desserts, I try really hard to avoid that "but I deserve it" type of emotional eating.

Here are some relatively inexpensive things I do treat myself to: manicures, pedicures, new makeup, a DVD, a cheap-ish article of get the idea. Works wonders for my drive to keep it up!

What tips can you share to keep your motivation for exercise high?

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