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5 Ways to Make Exercising Easier

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ELLE

I’m the first one to admit that going to the gym is a huge pain in the butt for me. I’ve always been the kind of girl who Pinterests decadent recipes rather than workout plans. Sure, there’s heart health, endorphins, and weight control to consider, but dang it, sometimes you just want to lay on the couch and watch House of Cards!

For most women, your metabolism changes between your early and mid-twenties. I’ve heard this my whole life, but somehow erroneously believed that I was immune to it. After all, I had never been more than moderately active and I felt comfortable with what I saw in the mirror. Throughout high school and college, as long as I ate reasonably, it didn’t seem like my weight or appearance fluctuated that much.

So when my twenty-third birthday hit, the changes caught me off guard. I starting to notice a difference in how my clothes fit and had low energy levels throughout the day. I could tell that some of the firm flesh on my thighs and stomach started to look a little…well let’s just say not as firm. Not to mention, I took an office job right out of college, so the hours that I usually spent trekking across campus or biking back home turned to sitting in a cubicle all day long. Not exactly great for daily calorie burn.

Getting in the habit of exercising every day wasn’t easy for me at all. I found the actual working out part tedious and was impatient to see results. Well, it’s been about a year, and (not to sound all annoying or preachy), exercising is now something that I genuinely enjoy and look forward to. Of course, I still have my lazy days, but as a whole, my entire outlook on going to the gym is completely different than it used to be.

I thought I’d share some of the tips and tricks I learned to keep me motivated to exercise throughout the week. After you read, be sure to leave a comment and let us know what you do to keep yourself in the habit of working out!

Let’s get to it, shall we?

1. Figure out what you hate most about exercising, and solve that problem.

spin class
ELLE

I’m pretty much an expert excuse-maker. If there’s something I don’t want to do, you bet your bottom dollar that there’s at least five reasons why me doing it is just not going to work out. My sister wants to borrow a dress for a college function? “No sis, Lambdas are notorious for having red punch, sloshy cups, and aggressive dancing at their date parties.” Boyfriend starts playing Al Green on the iHome? “Sorry babe, I’ve got a headache.” Don’t worry girlfriends, no judgement here – we’ve all been there before.

Sometimes though, all it takes to turn something from a drag to something you don’t mind is to identify the one thing you hate most about it, and solve just that one problem.

This sounds super lame (I know), but the one thing I HATED about exercising was getting super sweaty and having to wash my hair every day. My hair is somehow coarse and thin at the same time, making it an hour-and-a-half long ordeal to shower, detangle, and blow dry. Add in the commute and an hour at the gym, and the event of working out was liable to take up my entire night, every night. Not ideal for a busy girl!

I did a few things to solve this problem. First, I switched to cleansing conditioner a few times a week, which made my hair much easier to manage after showering. Second, instead of doing intense cardio for 20 or 30 minutes every day, I now do it for an hour 3-4 times a week. I save the other 2-3 visits the the gym a week for workouts with less intensity, such as weight lifting, walking on the treadmill, foam rolling my muscles, stretching, and abs. This way, I can freshen up with just a baby wipe and dry shampoo!

Identify what’s holding you back, and work to solve that problem. Are you too crunched for time? Go on a twenty minute jog around your neighborhood 3-4 times a week right before you shower. Hate leaving your house? Pick up some exercise DVDs you can do in your living room or search for Insanity videos on Youtube. Can’t stand running? Go on a long power walk, alternating in 30 seconds of jogging every few minutes or so. Hate the boring atmosphere at the gym? Ditch the recycled air and go on a jog or bike ride outside.

2. Multi-task while working out.

girl working out
ELLE

For me, something taxing about exercise is thinking about all the other things that I need to or would rather be doing throughout the entire workout. So why not do a little planning and multi-task?

I always wish I had more time to read books. One of my friends introduced me to Audible a few months ago, and I now I can’t get enough! Audible is an app that lets you buy audio books at a much lower price than they’re usually sold for. I love listening to both fiction and non-fiction when I do cardio. Music is great and all, but listening to a story that’s building towards a conclusion helps time pass quickly. Plus, I get to expand my mind at the same time I do something good for my body. Win-win!

At the gym, I frequently see people bring their iPads and watch Netflix or Hulu while they do cardio. If your cable provider has an app, you can even clear out your DVR while you work out! This keep you from getting bored while you exercise, and again, makes time fly. Also, since you’re getting in your TV time then, you might be more inclined to go on a walk or do something more active when you get home.

Have a bunch of chores waiting for you at home? Do them as fast as you can, and work in some jumping jacks, squats, and push-ups in between. Have a big test coming up? Bring your flashcards or study guides on the treadmill with you. Need to run errands? Bike around town instead of driving.

3. Mix up your workouts to prevent burnout.

Yoga
ELLE

For a while, I did the same thing at the gym every day – about thirty minutes of weight lifting, followed by thirty minutes of jogging on the treadmill. Of course, this got totally boring after about a week. 

Between running, weight lifting, yoga, pilates, TRX, Body Pump, CrossFit, Zumba, biking, hiking, spin classes, Pure Barre, and everything in between, there’s no reason why you should feel like you have to do the same workout every single day. Plus, mixing it up allows for different muscle groups to rest and recover, which helps prevent annoying injuries like shin splints or tendonitis.

Also, don’t be afraid to mix up the intensity of your workouts. Busting your butt 7 days a week is far too daunting. Three or four high-intensity days is plenty. Spend the other days walking on an incline, lifting weights, using the foam roller on tight muscles, stretching, doing a few easy yoga poses, or even taking your dog on a walk around the neighborhood.

4. Use apps to build a plan and keep you motivated.

Workout
ELLE

Technology is a great thing, am I right? While some use their smartphones to play Angry Birds or Words with Friends, others use it to keep themselves in top shape.

I absolutely love RunKeeper. It maps out your path and lets you know how far you’ve gone and what pace you’re going in real time – that way you can speed up or slow down depending on what your goals are. RunKeeper also provides personalized workout plans depending on your goals and fitness level. Whether you want to lose 10 pounds or run a 10k, the app provides weekly workout plans to help you meet you goals. Plus, it sends you daily reminders to work out – weirdly, it actually keeps me accountable!

I’ve also heard great things about Zombies, Run!, Daily Burn, FitBit, Yoga Studio, and Moves. Do you have a favorite fitness app? Share it with us in the comments!

5. Find a workout buddy.

Dance
ELLE

Speaking of accountability, there’s no better way to make sure you get your butt moving than to recruit a friend to do it with you. Having a friend to meet you at the gym, on the trail, or come over in a sports bra ready to workout will help ensure that you stick to your plan.

Not to mention, having a friend makes exercise SO much easier! The time on the elliptical or row machine will fly by when you have a friend to gossip with. Or, you two can alternate weight training reps so you each get the perfect rest period and someone to cheer you on.

What Do You Think?

What are some of the techniques you use to stay in shape? What fitness apps do you use? What are some of your favorite ways to exercise? What plays on your iPhone when you’re hitting the trails? Leave a comment and share some tips of your own!

Posted on on June 5, 2014 / Filed Under: College Life / Tags: , , ,

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8 Responses to “5 Ways to Make Exercising Easier”

  1. 1
    June 5th, 2014 at 12:34 pm

    Thank you for posting this! I’ve been experiencing the same thing. My body shape was pretty consistent through high school and my undergrad, never changing by more than 5 pounds. Now I’m finished my master’s and am approaching 25, and have noticed a LOT of physical changes in the past year.

    Before we even get to body shape, I noticed that I need to get up in the middle of the night to pee WAY more frequently than before, and that my stomach is much more sensitive to the foods I put in it. Those small changes are making me feel old! But I’ve also noticed that my midsection is a bit thicker than before.

    I’ve been physically active in several different ways since quitting swimming and gymnastics around age 13. A few years ago, I trained in Capoeira, an afro-Brazilian martial art, for about a year and a half and that is a HARD workout. The cardio part was always the hardest part for me, but as long as the cardio is hidden in fun, I can manage it. Zumba is good for that reason.

    Last winter I found I enjoyed swimming at the YMCA near my apartment, and gently re-introduced my body to cardio. Swimming is great because you don’t feel sweaty and gross and it’s so low-impact. But I wanted something even more convenient, like running.

    I went in with low expectations, knowing full well that cardio and I have never seen eye to eye. But after a few runs, I figured out how to pace myself so that I didn’t get cramps or start breathing too hard. I had to dial WAY back on the speed, and stick with a gentle jog ( I tell people I run like a dainty butterfly). It’s easy on my bones, and I can keep up the pace for much longer. I actually look forward to running now, something I never thought I would say!

    Plus, I have an excuse to buy and wear cute workout clothes.

  2. 2
    June 5th, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    Just a thought – every single photo posted focuses on a white female. The one black girl in photo 5 is blurred out. Can we please be more inclusive of the rest of the CF community?

  3. 3
    June 5th, 2014 at 2:35 pm

    Hey Sam!

    I’m sorry about that–I’m Chinese, and it’s also frustrating to me that 90% of the ads out there just show skinny white girls!! At CF, we have strict guidelines of what images are licensed for us to use without getting in trouble. As you can imagine, the image bank is unfortunately kinda limited. We’ll definitely keep this in mind and try to seek out more diverse images in the future!

  4. 4
    June 5th, 2014 at 5:52 pm

    Definitely with you on points 1 and 3. For months I would make myself do a half hour treadmill cardio and a half hour weightlifting – under the assumption that I had to do both equally. But cardio bores me so much, whether I’m in a gym or walking around! Now I just do 15 minutes of cardio just to warm my body up and then do the exercises I really enjoy doing. In between I’ve started doing yoga again, which definitely helps mix it up and gives my muscles the stretch they need. There’s no set exercises you *have* to do, just do what you like! You’ll enjoy exercise more, and your body will still get the workout it needs.

  5. 5
    June 6th, 2014 at 1:40 am

    Or we could just accept that bodies and metabolisms change over time and no one looks eighteen forever.

  6. 6
    June 6th, 2014 at 10:42 am

    @Shannon, that cracks me up about the way you run because I do the exact same thing! I ran cross country in high school, so I was pretty shocked to find out how long it takes me now to run a mile comfortably–but you know, who cares? As long as we’re doing something good for our bodies, I think any amount of physical activity is something to be proud of.

    @Rachel, I have that exact same problem with cardio. For awhile, I’d spend 50 minutes lifting weight, do the Stairmaster on high for 10 minutes, then call it a day! I’ve found that running outside makes it much more enjoyable…but its about to get super hot, so I don’t know what I’ll do during the summer!

    @Audrey, that’s a good point, I think everyone should learn to love their bodies and the changes we endure over time. But that’s no excuse not to get up and get moving! Even just a short walk around the block helps your circulation and keeps your heart in tip top shape. Whether you work out for weight loss or just occasionally to keep yourself healthy, it’s still an important part of life!

  7. 7
    June 6th, 2014 at 10:49 am

    I really, really recommend Zumba classes. It’s so much fun while also being a great workout, and the teacher changes up the dances every time so it’s never monotonous. Plus, if you pay in advance for a certain number of weeks, you have an incentive to go – you don’t want to waste your money.

  8. 8
    June 6th, 2014 at 4:12 pm

    I loved all these tips, and have definitely incorporated all of them at one point or another. I’ve always given people the inverse of advice #1; find something you like. But I like your way of presenting it better; figure out what you hate! It took me a couple years to realize I love lifting heavy things and putting them back down, but once I did, the gym no longer became a chore and I began to get really antsy if I didn’t lift weights for days in a row! Such a great stress reliever.

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