You’re probably hearing a bunch of lifestyle platforms, magazines and the like tell you to get ready to get in shape because ‘bikini season is approaching.’ Well, I’m not going to tell you that, and that’s because I don’t really believe in working hard toward a body that society deems as ‘appropriate for bikinis.’ Now, I’m not bashing anyone or any entity that uses the term, ‘bikini body,’ so don’t get me wrong. I’m here to talk to you about my personal meaning of ‘getting in shape,’ which is working toward the goal of achieving your personally desired standard of health and fitness — no matter what that looks like.
So now that we’ve established that, let’s get back into the how-to part of things…Finding motivation — to do anything — can sometimes be pretty difficult. But we must have good reasons for wanting something, right? No one is immune — believe me. There have been many times when I’d say to myself, “Okay, starting today I’m going to make the effort to cut out certain foods from my diet in order to eat better.” And yet, I sometimes find myself barely lifting a finger to get started. If you keep finding yourself at a loss for motivation when it comes to getting yourself into shape, take a look at some great ways to raise those motivation levels.
For going to the gym…
- Buy cute new workout outfits. Yes, you can still break a sweat while looking super cute. About two weeks ago during my spring break, I went to the mall and bought a bunch of cute workout outfits. I noticed a really cute pastel theme going on in the active wear section of Forever21 and was immediately drawn in. I bought pastel colored sports bras and muscle tops, the text on which matched the colors of my bras! I couldn’t wait to wear them to the gym — I was even genuinely pissed off that the Monday our classes resumed there was snow and I couldn’t make it there. You’ll have so much fun pairing your adorable purchases, and you’ll have even more fun working out in them!
- Come up with a blood-pumping playlist. Come up with a playlist to set the tone for your workout. Go through some bouncy songs for a warm up, power ballads when you’re really picking up the pace and at the peak of your workout, and some lighter but catchy songs for a cool down. One song I always get excited to play during my workout is ‘Exes and Ohs’ by Elle King. Her genre is normally light rock, which is awesome because it just goes to show that you can grab great workout music from any genre, really. Take a look at my workout playlist if you’re looking for some inspiration. They really make you look forward to sweating!
- Grab a buddy. If you normally think of working out as your one-way ticket to an exhausting, sweaty, painful hell, well…at least you’ll suffer with a buddy! Friends make things more tolerable (I know this all too well walking outside during those Long Island winters — at least I’m walking with someone I can complain to about it). Knowing that you’ve already committed to this plan with someone else will make you less likely to back out at the last possible minute, so you’ll have to go (and you won’t regret it!) Plus, when you’re with someone, you’re way more likely to be comfortable trying out new machines.
- Put it on your to-do list for the day. If your friends are too lazy to go to the gym with you and you haven’t yet convinced them to go, then your to-do list can be one of your closest friends. This is sort of the same idea as going with a buddy; once you add a workout to your schedule, you feel committed to it — like it’s set in stone and you need to fulfill this task otherwise you can’t sleep at night. Okay, maybe you’ll still sleep just fine, but let’s pretend that you won’t so you’ll feel even more committed to getting in a workout. Plus, incorporating workout time into your schedule can become a habit. On days that I don’t have my Zumba or boxing class, I have a relatively packed schedule during the day, so I choose to workout at the gym during the early morning hours. I can go back to my room and shower and change afterward, so I’m refreshed and ready to start the day.
- Start off small. You don’t have to run five miles on the treadmill your first day, and you don’t have to bench 175 either. Starting off small doesn’t make you look pathetic or weak, and it can actually be a good thing. When you start off small, the only way you can go is up; you can only improve from there and once you start seeing that you can progress, you’ll be excited to keep going. This is a great way to get you motivated to attain your workout goals.
- Use it as an opportunity to catch up on Netflix shows while you work out. When you’re running on the treadmill or using the elliptical, you can kill two birds with one stone by squeezing in an episode of your favorite Netflix guilty pleasure. I’ll be the first to admit that mine is currently “Grey’s Anatomy.” Plus most tv show episodes are about 40 minutes long so that guarantees that you’ll be working out for at least 40 minutes when you go to the gym. Bring your phone, ipad, or whatever device you normally watch your shows on (except your actual tv. Somehow I don’t see that working too well).
- Join a fitness class. Fitness classes are commitments in disguise, which is a really good thing! Once you sign up, you’ll feel like you have to go, because making awkward eye contact with the instructor of the class you skipped is pretty awkward! If you go to college and have a gym or rec center on your campus, then you definitely have to take advantage of that — you’re paying for it with your tuition money… I’m currently in a Zumba Toning class and boxing class (see my how-to on surviving boxing class), and there are a few others that I’m super excited to try out too, like POUND. These classes feature a group setting, so you’re definitely not alone. You’ll have so much fun if you really get into it, and you’ll make sure you make time for a class or two!
- Make an incentive/reward for yourself after working out. I like treating myself to a green smoothie from Red Mango or a Mango Black Tea Lemonade from Starbucks after a workout. They’re refreshing ways to indulge in something I really like. You can treat yourself to something yummy after you workout because you earned it!
- Think about how relaxed you’ll feel after letting off that steam. Especially after you hop in a nice, hot shower! This is one of the simplest, yet most satisfying feelings. Great for stressed college students, parents and teenagers! This is also a great feeling you can look forward to, so that’s even more of an incentive for you to start hitting the gym. Ah, I can feel it now…
- Think about how soundly you’ll sleep that night! I mean, who doesn’t love sleep, right?
For eating healthy…
- Instead of thinking about what you can’t have, think about what you can have. You know how you’ll read a bunch of those healthy eating guides and most of them tell you to stay completely away from certain foods if it’s the last thing you do? It can feel a bit discouraging hearing all that, because it’s really hard to part with some of your all time favorites, even if you know they aren’t necessarily good for you (shout out to my beloved chocolate mousse tuxedo cake!) So I started reminding myself of what I can have. I actually write those foods down on post-it notes and leave them stuck to my desk, so every time I’m craving something yummy, I can run by my list.
- Search for scrumptious looking alternatives. This ties into my last point. One time, I went to a nutritionist and she kept telling me about all these snack alternatives that I could have, such as celery and things like that. Now, I’m personally not much of a veggie person (except for spinach — I LOVE that stuff) so this wasn’t exactly the type of conversation that got me super excited to buy all the vegetables in the grocery store. So to combat this, I searched the internet for more appealing ways to incorporate certain healthy foods into my diet. This may sound petty, but sometimes aesthetics can really encourage you to add something to your diet. Often times, that’s just how the human brain works.
- Take a trip to a grocery store you’ve never been to before. Okay, so confession time: I’ve never been to Trader Joe’s. Yup, that’s right. I usually just get my food from Target. I’m really excited to finally take my first trip to Trader Joe’s because I have a very strong feeling that it will be different from what I’m used to but it will be a really good and impactful change. The grocery stores I’m used to don’t normally have a wide variety of options for vegans, glute-free, or other dietary paths, so I will certainly be exposed to new items. This can really motivate you to not only buy what’s there, but actually start eating that food too! I definitely can’t wait — it makes me happy just thinking about all the new changes!
- Try a 30-day eating challenge. Who doesn’t love a good challenge? This is a great way to motivate yourself to pick a dietary lifestyle that’s different from what you’re used to. Because you feel almost ‘bound’ to that challenge, you’re less likely to stray from its guidelines. Plus, there are ample online resources for you to use if you aren’t sure what to eat. One challenge I’m interested in trying out is the 22-day vegan challenge. Personally, I have always been interested in a vegan lifestyle. It’s easy to just look at what vegans eat, but I’d like to try it out for myself. Another great thing about these eating challenges is that it gives you a time limit. It’s easy for anyone to say that they ate gluten free for one week, but one week isn’t enough to see any changes (especially not if you’re eating gluten free. It takes months for gluten to be completely gone from your system). Of course, just under a month isn’t normally enough either, but it’s a much better start. From there, you can decide if this is something you’d like to make permanent.
- Now try that challenge with a friend! I think we’ve covered the power of friendship in great detail already. It’s great to grab your suite mate, roommate, housemate, or apartment mate for a healthy eating challenge. You can even take turns cooking dinner, which is super fun!
- Watch YouTube tutorials on making healthy meals. I’m not sure why, but watching those meal prep videos not only makes my mouth water, but it also makes me want to create those meals myself. If healthy food videos on YouTube have the same head-over-heels effect on you, then maybe it’s a sign to try them out!
- Scroll through Instagram to look at pretty pictures of healthy food. Oh man, Instagram is the same thing, only more effective because there are far more pictures of enticing healthy meals. I started seeing these photos of avocados with eggs half-baked in the middles and I am OBSESSED with looking at these pictures. They look so delicious! I don’t really like eating bare avocados, but this really makes me want to buy an avocado, split it down the middle, take out the center and bake an egg inside it. Without a doubt, this is packed with protein and good fats. I might actually use this as a recurring breakfast option if I try it and like it.
If you’re looking to get started on your road to getting in shape, I hope at least one of these points gave you enough motivation. Don’t forget that another way to get motivated is by remembering why you’re doing this in the first place — for your family, for your personal health, for your confidence — these are also fantastic and some of the most powerful sources of motivation for getting in shape. Good luck y’all!