Be Well: Five Tips for Sticking With the Gym

Image sources: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5

I've been picking up speed getting back into my gym routine lately, and I wanted to share some of the tips that really helped me get motivated and stay motivated. So here you have it: my wisdom on conquering the gym:

1) Push through those first five minutes: The first five minutes after my alarm goes off and before I head out the door to the gym are hands-down the absolute worst five minutes of my day. There is literally never a time when I don't hate my life for the first few minutes I'm awake. For awhile, I was letting my morning grouchiness be enough of a reason to crawl back in bed. Not anymore. Now I coach myself through those first few minutes, force myself out of bed, and spend a few minutes before the gym doing mindless things like looking at Instagram to ease into my day.

2) Find a friend: I've said this before - going to the gym with a friend will increase your attendance rate by about 1000%. If you don't have a friend that you can drag to the gym with you, make friends with the people who are at your gym. Just knowing that someone expects to see you there will make you feel obligated to show up, which is a GREAT thing when it comes to exercise.

3) Snack, snack, snack it up: There are two considerations here - 1) You need to find the right pre-gym fuel to keep you feeling good through your workout. My pre-workout food of choice is currently KIND bars - they're healthy, they're small, and there is no preparation needed. 2) You need to plan carefully for your after-gym snack. Unfortunately, an hour of spin class can be totally negated by the 30 seconds it takes you to stuff a brownie in your mouth. So plan ahead, pack and prepare a healthy post-gym snack, and don't put yourself in a position where you feel like you just have to get that pastry - because you earned it, right? (Wrong.)

4) Love your look: I know this sounds silly, but don't discount the power that great workout clothes can have in getting you to go to the gym. Knowing that what you're going to wear feels good and looks great is an easy, effective motivator. Invest in some quality items in fun colors and put another point in the "I'm excited to go to the gym!" column.

5) Variety is the spice of lifting: If I lived in an ideal world, I would do a completely different workout every day. CrossFit one day, swimming the next, yoga the day after that, a morning run after that, and so on. Variety is nothing but positive when it comes to fitness: your body will burn more calories if you keep it guessing, and you'll be much less likely to get bored and quit if you're changing it up every day. So check out the fitness classes your gym offers, find a fun new route to run, or learn how to do a new kind of weighted exercise. Staying entertained is half the battle!

Be Well: Back on Track

Source

Okay, maybe the title of this post should be "Mostly Back on Track" but hey, I'm going for it.

This week I took a major leap: my husband and I started a paleo-inspired, low-carb diet. I know - I'm not into depravation, and I really like to eat. Trust me, I'm not going cold-turkey - I still have dark chocolate in my pantry and I expect to enjoy a nice dinner out from time to time. But today and for the foreseeable future it's goodbye, processed food, bread, dairy, and dessert and hello meat, vegetables, and more meat.

I knew it was time to take the diet plunge the first time I realized that I was afraid to step on the scale. Like I literally avoided it because I knew I would be so demoralized by the number I saw there. Also, I've spent the last month complaining to my husband that I'm a fatty and then stuffing my face with delicious baked treats, so there's that, too. It was time to put my money where my mouth is, rather than just putting chocolate where my mouth is.

The other motivation behind deciding to do this diet is that I've never actually done a diet before. I mean, I did my paleo eating experiment, but the goal wasn't really to lose weight. This time the goal is to lose weight, and it's really important to me that I prove to myself that I'm capable of being successful. I'm going to weigh myself once a week and I even bought one of those seamstress's tape measures so I can track whether I lose inches off my waist. I realize I'm achieving nerd status with my goals and measurements, but I figure shooting for something specific is a necessary component to a successful diet/exercise plan - otherwise, it can seem like you're going to have to deprive yourself forever. I want to know when I can stop!

Most of all, I want to feel like my healthy, fit self again. For the past couple months I've been overindulging in great meals and underperforming on going to the gym, so I think it's about time I switched the priority of those two pastimes.

I started this little adventure on Monday, so how's it going so far, you ask? Well, it's been really hard. In fact, I'm surprised I managed to make it through Tuesday without caving. I thought Monday was bad (I was seeing mirages of cupcakes in the afternoon, I swear), but then Tuesday morning I woke up at 5:15AM with a migraine-status headache. I had to scrap going to the gym in favor of laying in bed, praying that I wouldn't throw up. Luckily, some medicine cleared the headache up quick, but then my workday was pretty crazy starting at 7:30AM and ending around 7:30PM. I ended up eating lunch at 3:00, and although my stressed-out brain was begging me to go get a cheese sandwich, I somehow forced myself into Chipotle where it's easy to get a no rice, no beans, meat and vegetable extravaganza. Work, stress, and physical pain are three of the major excuses I use to "treat myself" and eat what I want, so I figure if I can stick to my diet plan on a day like yesterday, I can make it through any day. Right?

Right. This is happening, and you guys will hold me accountable. If any of you are hoping to clean up your eating act, let me know - I'm always in favor of the buddy system to keep yourself honest!

-

On this day, as on all other days, I turn to books to make it all make sense. Today, the book on my mind is Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann. Read it for the tragedy, read it for the good.

Be Well: Taking the Plunge

DSC_8820Today I want to fill you guys in on the "real" reason I haven't been going to the gym lately. In previous posts I've referenced a host of factors that have played into my inability to exercise in the morning - crazy hours at work, wanting to spend time with my husband, pure laziness, etc. But none of those has played as much of a part as the one thing I'm most afraid of:

The people.

I'm not talking about "the people" in a "the people who go to the gym are jerks" kind of way (see this previous post for my thoughts on when that IS the case). Here's what's going on with me lately. At night, when I think about going to the gym the next morning, I generally have really positive thoughts about how much I love to exercise and how great I feel after finishing a workout. And I want to go to bed early so I can go to the gym. But then I think about that moment, that moment after the coach is done explaining the workout and tells everyone to get in groups of two or three. That moment when I look around the room and realize that everyone else has someone else that they want to be in a group with and I don't. And then my chest tightens up and I convince myself that I'm too tired, too busy, too lazy to go.

But I'm not too tired, busy, or lazy. You see, Crossfit is a really social form of exercise. Most workouts are done in small groups - your partner rests while you lift, or they do pushups while you row, or they jump rope while you hold a plank until you're about to die. In general, I LOVE that aspect of Crossfit - I'm a pretty social person, so I enjoy spending that hour bonding with other people.

However, I don't have any close friends who go to the gym with me at the same time as me. And one thing I hate more than anything is being in a room of people I don't know. Just the thought of it gives me anxiety. I feel really embarrassed to admit that because I don't think I'm socially awkward or antisocial - I just don't always know how to strike up a conversation with others, especially at the gym. In most contexts, I am pretty good at making friends. At the gym I have no idea how to make friends.

I've been a member of various gyms over the course of my life thus far, and I have NEVER had gym friends. Do you know what I'm talking about? From what I can tell, the vast majority of gym regulars end up bonding with other gym regulars. They chat in the locker room or by the treadmills. The major thing they have in common is the fact that they go to the gym at the same time, and yet they still find enough to base a "say hello every day" friendship on.

This one summer, I sat next to the same woman every single morning while we were getting ready for work in the gym locker room. Every day we were at the gym at the same time, sitting at side-by-side mirrors. Most people would end up being friends with that woman in that situation. Not me. I spent ten weeks feeling like I should be friends with her, but never figuring out how.

So here I am, almost 25 years old and still worrying that I'm the last kid that's going to be picked for dodgeball. Given that fear, there are two ways to get myself to start working out again: I can go back to a regular gym where I'm not forced into workout groups, or I can face my fear. I like the Crossfit workouts, though, and I'm not ready to quit, so that leaves facing my fear. Which is the better choice anyway. I've committed to going to at least one Crossfit class this week and braving the team-picking part. Once again, I'm going to ask you guys to keep me honest. I'll keep you updated, of course.

Finally, a PSA for all of you who have no trouble making friends at the gym: the next time you see someone like me, someone who is nervously eying the crowd before picking Crossfit workout groups, or who doesn't know where to put her bike before cycling class, or who looks lonely when putting her makeup on in the locker room - please say hi. We want to talk, we just don't know how to do it. You have no idea how much your kindness will be appreciated.

Have a very wonderful Wednesday.

Be Well: Second Foot Forward

Image via

Yesterday morning, I went on a run. This may seem like a relatively run-of-the-mill fact to you, but I haven't worked out in five weeks. For five weeks I've been signing up for CrossFit classes and then canceling them, planning on morning runs and then sleeping in, talking about playing tennis on the weekends and then lying on my couch instead. Again and again I've tried to break my streak of being so incredibly lazy, and again and again I've failed. Yesterday, I finally didn't fail.

I often feel like getting back into a workout routine is directly comparable to the physics of getting a ball rolling. Getting back on the workout horse requires you to overcome massive inertia, but once you get the ball rolling, momentum and gravity will help you out. The hard part is that it's on you to make that initial push. And that initial push sucks.

I know I'm probably too proud of finally going on a "run" (let's face it - some of it was walking) but you know what the worst part of my week was? Getting out of bed at 6AM yesterday while my husband was still snuggled under the covers. And the second-worst thing this week was going to bed early on Monday night in order to be able to get out of bed on Tuesday morning. But I did it. And it was worth it. And I think getting up in the morning will get less painful as long as I stick to it.

You know what motivated me to get in that morning workout more than anything? The thought that I could tell you guys about it afterword. Never underestimate the power of having other people keep you honest when it comes to exercise. You guys truly keep me honest - I hope I can return some of the favor.

Anyway, enough of my (small) workout victories! Today should be an interesting day - I'm headed down to L.A. to meet with one of our clients! It will be a quick day trip, but it should be fun. Of course, I somehow ended up flying into the Oakland airport...on the night that they're closing the Bay Bridge...so my drive back home will be interesting...but I guess that just makes me a true resident of the Bay Area, you know?

Have a great day.