The right motivation, accountability & entertainment: why working out is working for me this time

photo by lululemon athletica

I’ve just returned from a 9 AM yoga class…the same one I’ve been avoiding for over two years, because, well, I like to stay in my pajamas as long as possible and do just about nothing on Saturday mornings.

However, I’m now over three weeks into a consistent workout routine, and I’m finding that the more I work out the more I want to work out. This is the longest I’ve stuck to it in years, and I’ve been puzzling out what might be the difference this time around. I think I’ve identified the key factors:

The right accountability.

Have you ever noticed that with some people – maybe your very best friends! – you have a hard time getting a workout plan off the ground because you let each other off the hook too much? My sister-in-law Jenna and I are like that. We’ll plan to go for a power walk before dinner, but all it takes is one of us saying “Eh, would you rather eat guacamole instead?” to throw the whole plan off.

On the other hand, when I plan to work out with my brother, I know I just better show up because he’s not going to let me off the hook if I don’t. And my friend Melissa, who picked me up for yoga this morning, is one of the most consistent exercisers I know…so if I make plans with her, I’m going to stick to them.

I guess workout-averse people like Jenna and I need people like John and Melissa to keep us in line.

The right workout.

Part of the reason I joined the Y was that they offer hour-long yoga classes rather than just 90 minute ones like the local yoga studios. It’s not exactly a “real” yoga class (the kind with chanting and candles and a long period of savasana at the end) but it helps keep me limber and strong (which will come in handy when I can once again carve out the time for longer classes), and I’m much more likely to be able to fit it in.

During the week I’m sticking to 2-3 days of 25 – 30 minutes of cardio plus push-ups, squats, a hand weight routine, and crunches. It’s not exactly the Insanity Workout, but I get a nice sweat on, I can tell I’m getting more fit and energetic, and I can get in and out of the workout room in an hour or less. Plus, I never feel like I’m going to die during the workout. I guess I’m just more into Sane Fitness (TM), the kind I’ll stick with because it’s not torture and I can fit it in my day.

The right entertainment.

I don’t know why I resisted working out with music for so long, except that I don’t really like the way earbuds feel. But I’m over it, because for me the music makes all the difference. My playlist is a mix of hard-core (Ice Cube, to help me power through the tough spots) and a little sweeter (Beyonce and Enrique, for a great running beat). I honestly don’t think I would have made it through the first few days without the right music.

The right motivation.

This is probably the biggest factor this time around. First, I’ll admit that I’m in no small part motivated by vanity. Jon’s mom is letting us have her boat this summer, and we plan to spend a lot of time on it – I would like to be able to confidently wear a swimsuit on deck without hiding under a sweatshirt. Also, I have found that my body is changing in my thirties and that extra weight doesn’t distribute the way it used to – it all goes to my gut, which is not a good look when you’ve got long, skinny legs (apple on toothpicks, anyone?) I am too cheap to buy a whole new wardrobe, so I’d like to once again look good in the clothes I wore while I was still nursing, when calories effortlessly melted away.

Finally, I’m motivated by reality. I’ll turn 35 this summer, and fitness is no longer just a matter of looking good in a swimsuit but keeping my heart, joints, bones, and all the rest of it healthy. I’ve only got one body, and I need her to be in good shape to carry me through the rest of my life with energy, stamina and good health.

I’ll never be 17 and effortlessly fit again, but I’d like to reach my 35th birthday in the best shape of my grown-up-with-kids life. The good news is, if I stick with what I’m doing – and I really believe I will this time – I’ll totally get there.

Are you working to get a fitness program off the ground – or have you been thinking about committing (or re-committing) yourself to working out? What obstacles are getting in the way?

We’ve been checking in about working out over on my Facebook page. If you need some extra motivation, “like” the page and join the conversation!

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