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6 Ways to Motivate Yourself to Actually Go to the Gym

by | Sep 2, 2013

Photo by Abdullah AL-Naser

Joshua Hardwick is a fitness enthusiast from the small town of Chesterfield, UK. He loves the internet and runs his own fitness blog over at www.iwantasixpack.com. You can keep up-to-date with his posts on Twitter or Facebook.

6 Ways to Motivate Yourself to Actually Go to the Gym

by Joshua Hardwick

If you’re anything like me working out makes you feel energized and clear-minded, but actually gathering enough motivation to go can be difficult. While it isn’t so bad in the summer months, I find it extremely difficult to make it to the gym on cold winter mornings when I know it’s well below zero outside.

When I manage to drag myself to the gym in the evenings I usually feel exhausted from work, and more often than not I’d rather just go home, watch some TV and go to bed.

When I don’t workout though, I always regret it. Here are some tips I’ve found that keep me motivated.
Read the rest of this story »

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How To Start Working Out When You Don’t Like To Exercise

by | Jan 9, 2013

Photo by kirainet

You know who you are. As hard as you’ve tried, you’ve never liked going to the gym. Maybe you’ve even hired a personal trainer a few times, hoping the added expense and accountability would be enough motivation to turn you into a regular gym rat.

But it didn’t work.

Every time you’ve started an ambitious workout program with the goal of getting in shape, something–you’re not even sure what–cuts you short before you’ve reached your goal.

Deep down though, you know what the problem is: you don’t like working out. It’s hard, it’s uncomfortable, it’s sweaty and the weight room has a weird smell. You don’t like how you look in those stupid clothes, and who even has time for that sorta thing anyway?

But still you wonder about those people who are in the gym all the time. What’s their secret? How do they stay motivated day after day and year after year? Are they a different species? Or is there something they know that you don’t?

Few people on this earth were born with an innate love of the gym. But what generally separates people who like working out from those who don’t is pretty simple: fitness.

Working out sucks when you aren’t in shape. But the good news is that you don’t need to become a complete meathead to get to a place where exercise is no longer a pain. Just like learning to cook, once you reach a minimum proficiency level–in this case fitness level–exercise stops feeling bad and starts feeling good. And just like with cooking, the only way to get there is to Just Do It*.

If you’re just starting a workout program your goal shouldn’t be to get buff or lose weight. The first step is getting to a fitness level where you no longer hate to exercise. And for that all you need is consistency.

When you first start your program don’t force yourself to do anything too hard or unpleasant, just make sure that you stick with it and never quit. I hated running my entire life, so the first time I went jogging after years without any cardio training I told myself I would just run until I got tired. I literally made it about 4 blocks and went home. After a week or two I was up to 8 blocks. That was over 10 years ago and I’ve since completed three marathons. Running is no longer my go-to sport, but I’m now the fit person I’ve always wanted to be.

There’s no reason to torture yourself at the gym. Once you’re in better shape you will enjoy pushing yourself a little harder every now and then. But until you get there, just make yourself do something. Anything. Just do it regularly and don’t make excuses.

The key to being consistent is making your workout so easy/convenient/fun/awesome that not doing it just feels stupid. Here are a few tips to set you up for a lifetime of fitness.

10 Tips For Starting & Sticking With Exercise

1. Commit to consistency

This is worth repeating. Make a commitment to sticking with your plan. If you find yourself not able to meet your goals, change them so they’re easier.

2. Take baby steps

I jogged around the block for years before I got lost one day, accidentally ran 8 miles and decided marathon training no longer seemed so ridiculous. Don’t expect to turn into Superman overnight. For now just try to stop being Hedonism Bot.

3. Pick an exercise that’s fun

Not all exercise happens in the gym. Like to climb rocks? Shoot hoops? Swing the bat? Start with the fun stuff and work your way up.

4. Bring a friend, make it competitive

Having a workout partner is one of the most effective ways to be accountable and make your workout fun. Making it a competition is also great for motivation.

5. Join a sports team

Even better than one friend is a group of friends. Intramural sports teams are a fantastic way to get a few weekly workouts.

6. Get into music, podcasts and audiobooks

If your schedule isn’t conducive to group activities, your iPod still got your back. Put together an inspiring workout mix, download some of your favorite podcasts and audiobooks and whistle while you work.

7. Get a dog

You know what takes a lot of energy? Puppies! If you can’t motivate to exercise for yourself, at least do it for Fluff Fluff.

8. Caffeine charge

Sometimes a long day can make an evening workout seem impossibly difficult. At times like these, caffeine is your friend. After about half an hour you’ll need to workout to burn off that extra energy.

9. Get some nice workout clothes, shoes and mp3 player

New toys are fun. Sometimes it’s the little things that help the most.

10. Reward yourself

Doing something consistently is an accomplishment, even if your actual task seems small and insignificant. If you’ve been exercising regularly, don’t forget to pat yourself on the back for many jobs well done.

*Dear Nike, please don’t sue me.

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Originally published Jan 3, 2011.

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For The Love Of Food

by | Mar 23, 2012

For The Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

Why eating vegetables is cheaper than eating at McDonald’s, there are worse things than white rice and the best reason I’ve ever heard to go to the gym.

Want to see all my favorite links? Be sure to follow me on on Digg. I also share links on Twitter (@summertomato), Google+ and the Summer Tomato Facebook page. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you.

Links of the week

What inspired you this week?

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Simple Plan To Increase Your Physical Activity

by | Dec 9, 2009
Photo by laurenatclemson

Photo by laurenatclemson

I’m thrilled to have JC, author of JCDFitness for today’s guest post. I don’t read many exercise blogs, but JC has such a refreshing approach to fitness and exercise I can’t help but love it. I asked him if he would share some of his wisdom with us here at Summer Tomato.

JC writes about fat loss, building muscle and everything else fitness related at JCDFitness.  He takes a No-BS approach to the health and fitness lifestyle and prides himself on his relaxed, comfortable approach. Check out his free ebook, A No-BS Approach to Looking Great Naked and follow him on Twitter (@JCDFitness), if you’re into that sort of thing.

Increase Your Activity, Improve Your Life

by JC

If there is anything I am truly, madly in love with, it’s food. So you might guess that I was once a chubby kid; okay, a really chubby kid.

But I am not here to tell you how or what to eat. If you’ve been hanging out on Summer Tomato for more than a few minutes, you already know how.

So, while I trust you are eating all the unprocessed foods and in-season produce available, how are you doing with the other part of the healthstyle equation? What does your daily physical activity look like?

If you live in America, chances are your life is busier than ever, even more so now that the holidays are upon us.

Here is a simple plan to increase your physical activity, which will greatly improve your quality of life.

Exercising is Fun, Taking the Stairs is NEAT

First off, we have two ways to get active and expend more energy throughout the day. The first one is deliberate exercise, which I will cover in a bit.

The second way to increase activity is through something called NEAT. This little acronym stands for Non-exercise Activity Thermogenesis. Basically, NEAT is everything you do outside of deliberate exercise; it’s the energy you expend at your occupation, while doing household chores, picking up the kids, bathing your boa constrictor or painting your grass during the winter season.

Unfortunately, sometimes things are not so neat for a person who works at a desk and gets a slap on the wrist every time they move an inch away from their computer screen. So, if your current occupation or daily duties do not include much movement and you want to incorporate some extra activity into your daily routine, it’s time to get creative.

If you work on the 85th floor in the office building downtown, I don’t expect you to take the stairs all the way to the top. However, you can take a few flights before getting in the elevator and, when you come down for the day, you can do the same. Over time, you should aim to increase a flight or two every so often. Ideally you will be able to do all 85 flights within a month.

I kid.

But taking the stairs is a great way to get extra exercise if you can’t do a formal workout.

Another option is to walk instead of drive to your next destination. I know this is not possible for everyone, but once in a while if I want to increase my NEAT I will simply walk to school. I, however, only live 1.5 miles away from the farthest part of campus, so this is very easy for me.

If you take a train or bus, walk to the station if it’s not too far from your home.

When you do your grocery shopping, park in the very back of the lot; this way you’re forced into some extra activity. If it’s the only exercise you get outside of pecking the keys 8 hours per day, it’s definitely better than nothing.

For more NEAT tips check out: 6 Ways To Get More NEAT

Benefits of Strength Training (Deliberate Exercise)

The benefits of strength training could be an entire article in itself, as there are many positives I could ramble on about. For the sake of not boring you to death, I will hit the highlights.

The person who incorporates some form of resistance training a few times per week is going to be far better off than those who do not.

Now don’t get this confused with going to the gym and working out with all of the meathead bodybuilders. You can practice resistance training in the comfort of your own casa if you wish. You really don’t need a whole lot of equipment, if any at all. Heck, if you’ve never trained before, all you need to be doing is body weight exercises anyway, at least to get you started.

So give me some benefits!

  • Increased bone density
  • Increase in lean body mass
  • Improved appearance
  • Boost in confidence
  • Injury prevention due to joint stabilization through increased strength/muscle mass

Think of strength training as an insurance policy. It’s usually not much fun paying your dues and putting in the extra hard work, but you will be thankful later on in life as the rewards are great in terms of health and longevity.

As we age, our bone density diminishes; our muscles lose their tone and become weak. As a result, our chances of injury later in life increase exponentially. On another note, setting strength goals and achieving them will do wonders for our confidence and self-image.

So how might we put it all together?

Keep It Simple, Please

A strength training routine should never take up all of your time. In fact, it can (and should) be rather quick, unlike training for a marathon.

All you need is a few non-consecutive days per week to train; any more is likely unnecessary.

Keep in mind, I am writing for the general population here, so the guidelines are amendable and should be altered to suit your needs. However, here is a sample, full-body routine to get you going in the right direction.

Sample weekly exercise program

Training frequency is 2 times per week: Monday and Thursday morning before work (pick the days best for you, it’s just an example).

You will do the same routine each training day and increase weight and reps whenever possible.

The guidelines are to pick 1 exercise for chest, back, shoulders, biceps, triceps and 1-2 exercises for legs.

If you have access to a gym, your routine would look like this:

  • Chest Movement (bench or machine press) 2 x 10-12
  • Back Movement (lat pulldown, chin up, rows) 2 x 10-12
  • Shoulder Movement (vertical barbell press, DB press, lateral raises) 2 x 10-12
  • Bicep Movement (curls with barbell, dumbbells or resistance bands) 2 x 10-12
  • Tricep Movement (extension with dumbbells, machine or bands) 2 x 10-12
  • Leg movement (squat or leg press) 2 x 10-12
  • 2nd Leg Movement (leg curl or straight leg deadlift) 2 x 10-12
  • Abdominal Movement (crunches, planks) 2 x 10-12

If you do not have access to a gym and want to work out at home doing body weight only exercises, do 4 sets of 12 of the following:

  • Push ups
  • Chin-ups
  • Chair dips
  • Squats
  • Lunges

As you progress, the exercises will become less challenging, so eventually, you may need to move onto free weight/machine exercises or make your body weight work more difficult. This can be done by adding bands for resistance or making each movement more challenging.

For instance, if you want to make body weight squats more difficult, do a 1 legged squat or use dumbbells for extra resistance. Instead of regular push ups, do handstand push ups. You must get creative if you plan on doing body weight exercises only.

Cardio, Anyone?

On top of the strength training, some low to moderate intensity cardio is perfectly fine to do as well. I encourage those with sedentary lifestyles to incorporate 2-3 days of cardio into their weekly routine. My reasoning is, the more exercise we get, the more likely we are to maintain a healthy weight.

Examples of simple cardio workouts are walking the dogs when you get home from work, riding your bike through the trails, jogging in the morning before class, etc. Of course, you can use a treadmill, but I despise them; they are boring and usually inside a smelly, uncomfortable building. I prefer to do my cardio in the fresh air whenever possible.

So there you have it: a perfectly sensible plan to get active, improve your fitness and increase your quality of life.

What does your current exercise routine consist of? Let us know in the comments!

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