Having trouble putting down the lemonade and dragging yourself outside to burn some calories? Youre not alone, says Richard M. Ryan, PhD, professor of pyschology, psychiatry, and education at the University of Rochester. Whether youll stick to an exercise routine, he says, depends on how motivated you are—and its easy to have a motivation meltdown in summer. Thats where we come in. Our sneaky little tips and tricks will make it fun to get moving again.
1. Buddy up
Make friends at the gym or join a Girls Gotta Move running club at Health.com. Your exercise partners will give you a hard time when you miss a few days, which helps keep you accountable. Other buddies who can help you get moving: that hyperactive dog who needs to be run every day or the friend or co-worker who asked you to help her slim down for her summer wedding. Knowing someones relying on you is a real motivator, too.
2. Try something new
Sample a different class at your gym (we like Hula Hoop Pilates classes at Crunch in L.A.; www.crunch.com). Or, map out a fresh running or walking route at www.usatf.org (click on “Americas Running Routes”). If youre not strength-training yet, heres a good reason to give it a try: Researchers at Arizona State University found that if you lift weights, youll burn extra calories for up to two hours postworkout.
3. Set goals—and reward yourself
Aim to run or walk a certain number of miles per week, says personal trainer and Healths running coach Jenny Hadfield. Then reward yourself with a massage or new piece of fitness gear when you achieve your goal. Or, after a tough morning gym workout, pick up your favorite latte on the way home or to the office.
Buy your favorite jeans in the size you want to be, then hang them up where youll see them every day; try them on at the end of every week to gauge your progress. Or, take pictures of yourself each week to see how your body keeps changing for the better.
Next Page: 5. Change the scenery [ pagebreak ]5. Change the scenery
Set up a date to meet an out-of-town friend in another city to run, walk, or skate a race. The anticipation of spending time in a new locale, competing, and seeing your buddy will keep you excited about your workouts leading up to the big day. Or, have a beach-workout day: Bring a Frisbee, beach ball, or volleyball along, then allow yourself an hour of total relaxation for every half-hour you spend working up a sweat.
6. Make it a competition
For a little healthy rivalry to keep you going, challenge your husband or best friend to a fitness contest. Pick a week and keep track of how many minutes each person exercises. At the end, the loser takes the winner out for dinner or to the movies.
7. Track your progress
For every day you exercise, write a big red X on your calendar. Seeing all the red marks will keep you going. “Keeping a record of accomplishments can be very motivating, especially at times when weight loss or improvements in fitness happens slowly,” says Kelly D. Brownell, PhD, director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University. Keep a diary of your running or walking workouts either the old-fashioned way or online. At www.activetrainer.com, you can track time, pace, and how you felt with the sites free, easy-to-use calendar.
8. Pump up the volume
Its no surprise: A small British study found that fast-paced music inspired volunteers to run faster on a 10-minute treadmill test than did slower types. Having trouble even getting out the door? Choose a personal theme song that really fires you up (like Queens “We Are The Champions”), and play it when youre getting dressed for your workout.
9. Be prepared
Put your workout clothes on as soon as you get home, or bring them with you to work so you can be ready to work out as soon as you clock out. If you have your walking shoes on, you might just be inspired to ... walk!
Inspiration to Keep You on Target
“I make a deal with myself: Every month that I go to the gym at least four times a week, I get to buy a cute new piece of workout wear.” —reader Chris OConnell
“I just started a hip-hop dance class at my gym. Its my opportunity to learn cool dance moves without worrying about what others think or feeling like a complete freak by dancing alone in my living room. And Im burning tons of calories while breaking it down.” —reader Amanda Storey
“It may sound simple, but Ive stopped calling it ‘working out. Instead, Ill tell myself Im off to ‘burn some fat. That helps me think of it less as work and more as something positive Im doing for myself.” —reader Lauren Fine