Need help finding motivation to hit the gym? Follow these simple steps:
Find a jar.
Set a goal.
Put a predetermined increment of money into the jar each time you reach your goal.
My goal last week was to simply burn 300 calories every single day by doing some type of exercise. I set the reward amount for weekdays at $1. On weekends, I doubled it. And look! I already have $7 to spend on whatever I want!
Use this little trick for ANY goal, health-related or otherwise. It’ll give you a reason to spoil yourself every now and then without feeling guilty, because hey… you earned it, right?
Do you always feel guilty skipping a workout? An interesting article in the New York Times suggest that maybe you shouldn’t. In fact, it might be better for your overall health and fitness to take a couple of days off each week. Can this really be true?! IS THIS REAL LIFE?!
The article cites a study conducted by researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. It included older, sedentary test subjects, all women, between the ages of 60 and 74. They were each randomly assigned to one of three exercise groups. Group #1 exercised twice a week. Group #2 exercised four times a week. Group #3 exercised six times a week. And guess what. At the end of the four-month-long experiment, the ladies in the middle won the prize! Take a look:
“The women exercising four times per week were now expending far more energy, over all, than the women in either of the other two groups. They were burning about 225 additional calories each day, beyond what they expended while exercising, compared to their calorie burning at the start of the experiment.”
The idea is that four workouts a week were enough to help the women feel more energized and willing to be active outside their time at the gym. They were walking more for pleasure. They were taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Maybe they were breakdancing, too. Isn’t that a lovely idea.
The women who worked out only twice a week saw benefits, too… but the women in the six-workout-a-week group, surprisingly, had the most trouble. They were burning far fewer calories during non-exercise hours than the other two groups. They felt burned out, tired, and pressed for time, so they’d make choices out of convenience, like driving instead of walking.
I, for one, can totally relate. I go on streaks where I’ll workout 6 times a week for a couple of weeks. Then, during the third week, I can’t get off my ass. Then I feel guilty. Then I get depressed. It’s stupid really. It helps to remember that fitness is a life-long journey. We have to make healthy changes we’re able to maintain for the long-term.
So, what do you think? Is four days a week the magic number? How often do you exercise? VOTE NOW and like The Hungry Tortoise on Facebook!
Most of you probably already know this, but you need to burn 3,500 calories to lose one pound of fat. Every little bit counts! Scorch 100 calories without even trying by picking your favorite activities from this list. All estimates are based on a 150 lb. person. If you weigh more, you’ll burn more!
Run or walk one mile
Go bowling for 30 minutes
Mow the grass for 20 minutes
Shop for 38 minutes
Take a casual bike ride for 23 minutes
Swim at a moderate intensity for 15 minutes
Play frisbee for 30 minutes
Do the dishes by hand for 40 minutes
Take a 2 hour nap
Give the dog a bath for 27 minutes
(look at baby Dexter after his first bath!)
What’s your favorite way to burn a few calories? Let me know in the comments below, or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I put “gym” on my to-do list EVERY SINGLE DAY. And EVERY SINGLE DAY, I stare at the word “gym” and imagine ways to get out of it. Yes, I ran a marathon, but that doesn’t mean I like the idea of exercise. It takes time. It takes energy. It requires you to shower. But showing up is 99% of the battle. Once you’ve made it to the gym, you’re usually happy you did. This meme on the web hits the nail on the head:
Here are 10 tricks I use to get motivated:
Make a new playlist. I have an iPhone, I pay for a premium Spotify subscription, and I will advocate it until the end of time. It’s the best $10 I spend every month. It gives you unlimited play on just about any song you can think of from your PC and your mobile device. There’s a Spotify radio included now that’s almost exactly like Pandora. It also allows you to compile new playlists from your phone on the go. If you’re used to buying individual tracks and albums from iTunes, this might save you some money in the long run. It’s worth looking into, I promise.
Try Something New. Hot yoga. Spin class. Zumba. The options are endless. Challenge yourself with something different. Mixing up your “routine” can make exercise (sort of) exciting again.
Keep A Routine. I know I just said to mix it up, but we’re all creatures of habit. If you work out at the same time every day, you’re more likely to build momentum.
Set Goals & Track Your Progress. Want to lose weight? Great. But there are other milestones worth noting. Keep a pen and paper in your gym bag. Walk or run a mile as fast as you can every Monday, and try to get faster each week. It’s satisfying to see exactly how your hard work is paying off.
Register for an Athletic Event. When I registered for the marathon, my first emotion was FEAR. Fear is a powerful motivator. You don’t want to look like an idiot out there. You don’t want to let anyone down, so you prepare. It’s as simple as that. If a marathon is what you’re after, go for it. But it’s just as good to grab some friends and hit one of those Color Runs… or a get muddy on the Dirty Girl obstacle course.
Splurge on New Workout Gear. Stylish athletic wear doesn’t have to cost you a ton of money (Lululemon, I’m looking at you). Hit the clearance rack at Target! TJ Maxx is a great place to look, too. It’s important to feel comfortable and confident in your clothes. That confidence will translate into a better workout.
Stop Making Big Promises. You ate a big dinner last night. Maybe you haven’t worked out for a week., so today you sentence yourself to an hour and a half of hell on the stair-stepper to make up for your sins. STOP! NO! What kind of impossible torture is that?! You’ll never get to the gym if that’s the kind of punishment you have waiting. Instead, promise that you will simply show up. Commit to something non-threatening, like a light, 30 minute jog while you watch your favorite show. Chances are, you’ll want to do more once you start sweating.
WWDD. What would Dexter do? That’s right. My dog, Dexter. Imagine getting so excited over the idea of a walk that you bounced around the house like an idiot every time someone bumped the leash. Not everyone is able to exercise. It is a privilege, and someday, you might not be blessed with the mobility that you have today. Try and remember that.
Time Travel. As humans living in the 21st century, thinking ahead to how we might FEEL in the future is one of our biggest weaknesses, because we’re constantly distracted. Jump ahead to an hour from now and think how you might feel if you skip the gym. Then imagine the opposite. If you can really concentrate and put yourself in that moment of satisfaction after a good workout, you’ll be there before you know it.
Just Do It. Nike was right. Stop over-thinking it. Stop agonizing over it. Stop stalling. Stop making excuses. If you want to look and feel better than you do right now… JUST DO IT!
It’s February, and unless you live in Southern California, working out outside isn’t really an option right now. The torture of the treadmill can kick in fast… but nothing passes the time like a good, trashy reality show… and intervals! When you’re constantly adjusting the incline and the speed, you’re less likely to dwell on the big red glowing timer in your face. Intervals are also a great way to increase your metabolism to burn more calories in a shorter period of time. And… BONUS… when you get your heart rate into the anaerobic zone (that’s when you’re totally sucking wind), you continue to burn more calories at rest… long after your workout is done. It’s science, people.
Take a look at one particular interval circuit I’ve re-visited more than once in the past couple of weeks. It’s a challenge, but do-able. I find myself dying right at the :14 minute mark.