How to work out when life feels crazy

Working out can be a daunting task, especially when you haven’t gotten to the gym in what seems like forever. We have all been there — with moments of extreme drive and ambition to finally get in shape. Then life happens, and that ambition can only get you so far. Living a (mostly) healthy lifestyle is something I strive to accomplish in my life though I often stumble along the way.

Getting in shape and aiming to be healthy are great goals and ambitions to hold; after all, we only have one body and it should be treated with respect and love. However, that means different things to different people. Being “in shape” doesn’t look the same on everyone, and it is very important to recognize that. Because in a world full of tall women, thigh gaps, and flat stomachs, your version of “in shape” may not look like anyone else’s — and that’s okay.

Working out is something that brings me joy — it helps me feel better, more productive, and more comfortable in my body. Being active (regardless of the activity) is proven to help you sleep better, have more energy, and eat better as well. I know that it does those things for me. Exercising regularly can also have mental benefits as well. I personally struggle with anxiety and notice that the more often I work out the better I am able to handle my anxiety and stress.

If you are struggling to find the time or the motivation to work out, think of it this way: if you work out for a half hour a day and you are awake for 17 hours a day, that workout is only 3% of your day.

Working out for a half hour might not seem like enough, but it is sure better than nothing. Having to transition from a very open schedule while in school to a set 8-5 routine while working has been difficult for me to say the least; during the school year, I worked out 3-5 times a week at 6:30 am. Having to be at work at 8 am during the summer hasn’t allowed me to do that, so I had to change the time I worked out to after work. Here is what has worked for me:

1. Pack your gym clothes the night before. This way, it’s less to do in the morning and it will force you to not forget.

2. Find a time that works best for you. Whether it is in the morning, during your lunch break, or after work — and stick with it. Write it on your schedule, set an alarm, and commit to it. I have found that for me to stay committed to working out after work (when I am tired from the day and just want to go home and sit on the couch) I have to write it in my calendar every day.

3. Get a workout buddy. Even if you aren’t doing the same activity or working out “together” having someone to keep you accountable is a blessing. Sometimes all it takes to feel guilty for bailing on someone else to get you motivated. It worked great for me since I hate ditching plans.

4. Buy cute gym clothes. If you feel cute while working out, it could help you be more motivated to go. Sometimes all you need is some new outfits to change your outlook.

5. If you get in a rut, lose motivation, or don’t see change, don’t give up. It is much easier to push through a slump than it is to start over once you have quit. Take it from someone who goes through a lot of motivation loss—bad habits die hard and getting into new ones is even harder.

6. Make it fun. Don’t force yourself to do activities that don’t bring you joy. I love to lift weights, it makes me feel strong and powerful and like I have control over my body and my life. I love dancing. I have a love/hate relationship with running. Do what makes you happy.

Make a workout playlist, grab a friend, get moving, and don’t look back. I promise you won’t regret it.

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