By Tina Haupert
It happens every year: Once the summer ends, I struggle to follow a consistent workout plan. The weather gets colder, the days get shorter, and the last thing I want to do is leave my warm, cozy bed to bundle up for an early-morning 3-mile run or a group exercise class at the gym. Most of the time I realize that I just need a little extra motivation, so I try to "excuse-proof" my workout with these ideas.
Excuse: I can't get motivated in the morning
Morning workouts are not always fun, especially in the dead of winter. Still, they are a necessary evil when it comes to keeping myself on track. Exercising first thing in the morning guarantees that I get my workout in before my day gets carried away and excuses pop up. When I'm lying in bed debating whether to exercise or not, I count to three in my head and just get up. At first, I commit to doing just 15 minutes of exercise. Once I'm out the door, however, I get into my groove and almost always end up finishing my whole workout.
Excuse: I'm too tired to exercise after work
There's a difference between being mentally tired and physically tired. Doing something physical actually helps me combat mental fatigue. After a late-day workout, I find that I can focus better! If reminding myself of this post-exercise bonus still doesn't work, I boost my energy with a snack that's rich in complex carbs and protein. Sometimes, having a cup of coffee about an hour before my workout helps too. Fueling my body gives me the energy to complete my workout when my motivation wanes in the afternoon.
Excuse: Exercising at home is my only option
Boring! Exercising at home can get repetitive. Still, when I just can't make it out of the house, a plan of attack always helps get me off of the couch and in the right frame of mind to break a sweat. I create a workout schedule that details each of my workouts. One day I'll utilize a dance DVD for cardio and on another day a magazine workout for strength training. If I plan it out ahead of time, I'm more likely to stick to it.
Excuse: The thought of 30 minutes on the cardio machine is slow torture
Sometimes, just thinking of going to the gym puts me in a bad mood. However, I'm lucky enough to be able to schedule my cardio sessions at the gym around my favorite TV shows, which gives me something to look forward to. Typically, I make sure to start my session about 10 to 15 minutes before the show starts, so I'm inspired to push my workout through the final minutes. I'm so engrossed in my show by that time that I don't even notice the extra minutes and the time whizzes by.
Excuse: I don't have time to exercise
Even scheduling a workout into my day doesn't help on days when my to-do list gets overwhelming. Instead, I think "outside of the box" and figure out other ways to incorporate exercise into my day. My favorite strategy is to park my car near a shopping plaza or in a neighborhood where I can walk to do all of my errands. I kill two birds with one stone: I complete my errands and get a walking workout in for the day, leaving me feeling stress-free when I get home!