I’m one of those people who’s good at working out in theory. I was a competitive gymnast, and traded that in for cross country at some point in high school. Once those ended, it became increasingly clear that I actually wasn’t good at exercising, I was just able to do it with a coach telling me what workout plans to follow. I can be a ~self-starter~ work type, and have drive for a lot of things, but when it comes to keeping my body healthy, I apparently have very little motivation left.
Maybe that’s true of a lot of us — we can work hard at our jobs and our relationships, but somehow have a mental vice when it comes to working out. And exercising at home only makes it worse. When you buy a gym membership, you have the pressure of X dollars a month motivating you to go. And once you’re there, you’re not going to ignore the treadmill in front of you. Whereas at home, it’s easy to succumb to the fact that you had a long day, and there’s wine on the counter and your roommate is skipping her workout too, etc.
I don’t have a gym membership, because I don’t think of it as a necessary expense, I think of it as a luxury. And there’s just not room in my budget for too many splurges. But exercising at home doesn’t happen unless I have a workout specifically planned after work. So, I’ve tried to equip myself with enough workout solutions that I’ll have something to turn to, without much thought. Here are seven readymade solutions, which might help clear up the excuses we’re all too ready to make:
1. Weights. My friends living in major cities spend — at the very, very least — $45/month on their gym memberships. Weights cost $5-$10 at your local drugstore and will still make you sore as hell the next day. You can do your basic bicep curls, etc. or incorporate them into a workout engaging a different part of your body, like lunges or squats. If you commit to doing a mini-weight workout for 15 minutes/day about 4 days/week, you’ll notice a difference with minimal commitment.
Note: Buy weights you’ll actually be comfortable lifting. (I recently learned that 8lb weights are too heavy for me, so, you won’t be the only one opting for the 5lb. ones.)
2. Find someone to run with once a week. I understand the concept of workout buds isn’t new. It’s still something to consider, especially because you’re surrounded by other people who want to get in shape and can’t find the time, even if you don’t realize it. My friend and I had a streak where we traded in happy hour for a 2.5 mile run. Passing up $4 wine for a 25-minute reminder that we’re out of shape was not fun, but it was an easy and satisfying way to get healthy.
3. Get a yoga mat. By some miracle, I have hardwood floors, which is great aesthetically, but really doesn’t inspire me to drop and do crunches. A yoga mat costs $20 on Amazon, but ask around before you buy one. Chances are you have a friend, or a parent, who has one collecting dust at the back of their closet. Steal it. Do crunches or push ups on it. Even if you can only do five, resolve to work by doing do 1-5 more every day.
4. Sign up for a ~very lowkey~ race. Generally the farther you race, the more expensive it is. So if you’re trying to start out with a 5K, it shouldn’t cost you more than $20 – $30. Find a local race that fits your budget. Give yourself time to train by signing up for a race in a few months. Download MapMyRun and a training schedule and complete your first race.
5. YouTube home workout videos. I was adamantly against these for a long time, because you know what’s not fun? Having super gorgeous ladies who are 80 shades more tan than I am tell me to “push myself.” I use them sparingly, but will admit that they are an easy solution because you don’t have to think about what type of crunches or ab work you should be doing. Most people I know use Tone It Up. (It’s exceptionally frustrating when they’re laying on a beach, but they still make good workouts.)
6. Make a space for yourself. Clear out a small corner of your room, or commandeer 8 feet of the living room. Your roommates will understand. The last thing you want to do before working out is clean, so try to scope out a space that’s not being used to store the crock pot you can’t fit in the kitchen cabinets. (Pro tip: If your room is as tiny as mine, see if your yoga mat will fit in the hallway.)
7. Watch what you eat at lunch. In an ideal word, we would be watching what we eat at every meal. But when you’re starting out, it’s a lot easier to hone in on one part of the day. It’s less overwhelming. If you’re going to exercise after you come home from work, try to eat foods that won’t weigh you down at lunch. If you’re tired around 3 p.m., it leaves no motivation for a workout 3 hours later. Try to cut down on high glucose foods at lunch and learn what you need to eat if you want to workout later. Sometimes a protein-based late afternoon snack is a good thing to keep around, so you’re not famished when you get home.
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