When you hear the words fitness, gym, or exercise, what’s the first thing that comes to mind?
For some, it might be laughing, a tight-knit community, or something they can’t imagine their lives without. A part of their day. Maybe they picture crushing a strength workout, taking their favorite group fitness class, or savoring their sanity time away from daily to dos.
Unfortunately though, this is not the case for everyone. For many people, exercise has negative connotations such as hard, no time, effort, stressful, or boring. Maybe you even just thought to yourself, “ugh!”
A lot of people think that in order to be healthy, reach their goals, and stay consistent, they have to make a lot of sacrifices, fun being one of them. This is because diet culture and the fitness industry have us set up to believe that in order to be successful, we have to do things like cut out carbs, spend our Sundays prepping food, eat plain chicken breasts with unseasoned veggies at every meal, and spend lots and lots of grueling time in the gym exercising vigorously for every single workout.
Do some programs out there ask this of you? Absolutely. But those programs suck, haha!
It can be really easy to get caught up in these types of “ugh!” programs, especially if it’s the latest fad you see all over social media and Sally down the street tells you all about her new 1200 calorie diet as you put your kids on the bus together every morning. You wonder if you should start doing it too, so you give it a go, find yourself miserable, and wonder if you’ll ever feel like the women who just seem to LOVE fitness do. What’s their secret??
As a coach who works with time-strapped, but driven and ambitious women, it’s important to me that my clients learn how to make fitness a seamless part of their lives instead of feeling like fitness has to take OVER their lives. And what works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for another, which is why I don’t do cookie cutter solutions and quite frankly, why my clients have success with me. I write programs that are realistic and doable, I help my clients stay distraction free (#ByeSally), and I make sure each of my clients includes activities they LOVE doing as part of it all!
My wish for every woman is that exercise become something they look forward to doing, something enjoyable, and something that keeps them happy and healthy for the long haul, without the need to compare to others!
But how do we get there?
Tips for Keeping Your Fitness Fun
1. Stop looking at unmotivating Fitspo.
While some of the fitness motivation out there these days is certainly well-intended, a lot of what we see on social media, on TV, and in magazines can be triggering and make us feel not good enough when it comes to our bodies and efforts in the gym.
Often times, fitness is depicted with images of VERY lean and extremely fit women, many of whom are fitness models, athletes, or people whose JOB it is to be lean. We don’t really see images that are inclusive of all body shapes and types (although I do see this shifting in recent years), so this sets us up to shoot for unrealistic ideals.
You’ll also see phrases plastered online that are meant to be inspiring. Things like never miss a Monday, no pain no gain, no excuses, etc. In reality, they contribute to the perfectionist mentality that holds so many people back from being consistent. Could there be an absolutely valid reason for missing a Monday? Yup! Do we really have to push through PAIN to have an effective workout? Nope! There’s a difference between challenging ourselves and getting out of our comfort zones versus pushing ourselves to the point of injury.
These are just some examples of how today’s social media heavy world can make fitness feel not that fun. If you feel like your social media accounts are contributing to you feeling less than enthused about your gym time or always comparing yourself to other people, it’s time to clean up your news feed!
2. Stop trying to do everything at once.
When us women are motivated to make a change, we want the results NOW, don’t we? And instead of being patient, knowing that LASTING change takes TIME, we try to do a major overhaul all at once. We vow to exercise every single day when maybe we’ve been consistently getting to the gym once or twice a week. We say we are going to cut out carbs all together. We say we are going to be in bed every night at 9pm. Well, let me be the first to tell you that if you’ve been rocking the 11pm bedtime for 8 months, there’s no WAY lights out at 9pm every single night is happening straight out of the gate. When we shoot for the moon, we set ourselves up for failure, which then often turns into a downward spiral of “this is too hard, screw it.” This is why I love helping my clients break down their goals into very doable steps, one thing at a time – to take the overwhelm OUT of it and to stay focused on enjoying the journey.
3. Stop trying to go at it alone.
Working on a health and fitness goal can be lonely, especially if the people in your life aren’t on the same page as you. You may also be someone who feels bored doing things on your own or prefers having the accountability to someone else for following through on things.
Studies show that people have higher success rates with sticking to their fitness when they have a solid support system and consistent encouragement instead of feeling isolated or shamed in their efforts. It makes the whole process more fun, more doable, and more sustainable for the long-term for sure. I know I always feel really good about my fitness when I feel like a part of something bigger and get a sense of community around the goals I’m working on.
If you can relate, find yourself an accountability partner who will hold you to your goals or can encourage you to keep going when things get tough. Suggest social activities to your friends and family that support your goals instead of potentially sabotage or hurt them. You could also seek out group environments, whether in person at something like a group exercise class, or a supportive group online like a Facebook community. If you like the accountability, you may also consider hiring a coach who can help you see things from a different point of view!
4. Quit shooting for perfection + worrying so much.
I am always asking myself and my clients: how are you making things harder than they need to be? How are you the one sucking the fun right out of this? How are you letting perfect become the enemy of good?
For example: you are stressing about your workout because your day is crazy and you aren’t sure how you will have time to drive to the gym, do your 50 minute workout, drive home, and get dinner on the table. Could a 20 minute workout at home make things easier? What about doing a 10 minute Fit On the Go workout at the playground before picking your kid up from school? Are you really “off track” if you miss this workout, but pick right up where you left off tomorrow?
We have enough stress elsewhere in our lives that our workouts should not stress us out too if they aren’t 100 percent up to our own ideal standards. Remember, your power is always in your next best choice, and too often we spend so much time beating ourselves up that it takes the joy right out of your next workout.
5. Exercise for a reason beyond losing weight.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to lose weight, but you’ll only get so far if that’s your only motivation for working out. Sure, fat loss is nice and building muscle is fun, but you need to consider what achieving these goals will mean for you. Things like:
- Not having to be on your blood pressure medication anymore
- Teaching your daughter to speak kindly about her body instead of growing up watching you poke and prod every imperfection you see in the mirror
- Having the energy to play with your grandchildren
- Feeling confident with your partner instead of wanting to hid your body
- Not letting your daily stress get the best of you and going to bed feeling proud of yourself as your head hits the pillow at the end of the day
When you feel less than enthused about your fitness, remind yourself of your WHY. For what reasons do you workout besides aesthetics? If you can’t come up with a really powerful meaning behind what you are trying to do, you may not get very far. You’ll know your goal is right when the meaning behind it feels really good, like you can’t NOT achieve it because of what it will do for you!
6. Use simple motivation hacks on the days you just don’t feel like it.
When you feel unmotivated, it’s definitely important to remind yourself of your why, but there are some simple, quick ways to up the fun factor of your fitness too. You don’t ALWAYS have to rely on the lofty mindset stuff! Here are some of my favorites to use in a pinch:
- Say out loud that you GET to work out, you don’t HAVE to work out.
- Put on your favorite workout outfit. Fun bright pants!?
- Make a playlist with your favorite songs that always get you energized.
- Use the 5 favorites strategy – this is when you pick your 5 favorite exercises, set your timer for the time you have, and do 10 reps of each for as many rounds as you can in that time.
- Think about the last awesome workout you had. How did it make you feel? Say those words out loud to yourself to get you up and moving. Energized, confident, strong, accomplished. Whatever comes to mind for you!
7. Do your favorite things!!
Finally, you MUST move in ways you like and enjoy. Stop trying to be a runner if you hate running! You don’t have to follow Beachbody workouts just because someone else is, you don’t have to join CrossFit. Maybe you don’t love lifting weights, but you know strength training will help you get the physique change that you desire. You don’t have to lift in the weight room 4x a week! You CAN incorporate a solid, total body strength routine twice a week using your weights at home, and then do your favorite activities on your other days.
I LOVE helping my clients figure this out. One of my clients loves barre classes for example. I wrote her a customized strength program to do at home and then helped her figure out how to incorporate the barre classes in a way that was safe and effective. Another one of my clients is a runner. I came up with a strength plan for her that prioritized glute training and core to help her improve her running and keep her injury free. So YES you can do Zumba and YES you can take your favorite classes and still get results. You just have to be smart about it and make sure you aren’t overdoing the cardio to a point that it interferes with your progress.
I also love encouraging my clients to just move in non-training ways too. What movement brings you happiness? Is it walking while listening to a podcast? Hiking? Kayaking? Skiing? Do you have these things in your day to day or at least in the seasons of your year that make sense to do them? This is incredibly important!
Readers, let’s chat! Which of these tips, 1-7, resonated the most with you? What strategies for keeping your fitness fun would you add to the list? How do you include exercise and movement that you enjoy into your routine?
If you could use a fresh and more empowering approach to your fitness routine, you are in the right place! My coaching philosophy is NEVER about the number on the scale or the size of your jeans or counting points or calories. It’s always about YOU: your schedule, your preferences, your likes, your results! Through my Best Self Coaching mentorship and my Empowered Together Coaching Club membership, I help time-strapped but drive women take their fitness and nutrition habits from fine to fabulous so they don’t have to settle for the status quo and can truly step into their most empowered selves. I believe that when we take care of our bodies by moving with intention, eating for both fuel AND enjoyment, and engaging in meaningful self care, we are able to THRIVE in our personal and professional lives too.
If you are interested in a lifestyle transformation that is fun and gets you the results you want, book a free 30-minute connection call. I’d love to discuss your goals with you!!