If You’re Bored…
Try some tunes.
Music takes your mind off activities that feel like work. London researchers discovered that runners who listened to motivational rock or pop music (think Queen or Lady Gaga) exercised up to 15% longer - and felt better doing it. Walking to the beat also helps you to speed up your pace. And here’s even more motivation to turn on the music: In another US study, overweight walkers who listened to songs of their choice lost twice as much weight as a group that walked without music. Just remember to watch the volume or to wear only one earbud so you can hear oncoming traffic, dogs, and other signs of danger in your surroundings and stay safe.
(Listen to your fave tunes for 99c at this link)
If You Are Self-Conscious...
Find a workout buddy.
US research shows that exercising with a friend can make workouts feel more fun - and other research shows that partnering up can improve your odds of sticking with your workout program. If that’s not possible, walk in a busy park or at a track where everyone will be focused on their own workouts and you’ll blend into the crowd. It’s also important to treat yourself to new exercise clothes that will make you more comfortable. If you’re still walking around in activewear that you’ve had for the past decade, it’s little wonder you don’t like being seen in public.
If You Can’t Get Started or Stay on Track…
Write down what motivates you.
If your get-up-and-go got up and went (it happens to all of us at some point), you may need to remember what inspires you. Maybe you want to be able to run around after your grandkids, or you’re determined to look fabulous for your 20-year high school reunion. Whatever it is, pinpointing why you really want to make a change can help you stick with it - especially if you write it down. In fact, do it when you’re feeling really motivated. Get out a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle. On one side, write all the pros for exercising and eating healthy; on the other side, write the cons. Then save the list. That way, if you hit a snag down the road, you’ll have your list to remind you of why you started walking for fitness in the first place.
If You Can’t Get Motivated…
Walk for a cause.
Most women are great at doing things for others but not so good at taking care of themselves. Now here’s a way you can help others and reap some healthy benefits yourself. Every time you take a walk, you can raise cash to better the environment or fund cancer research - without it costing you anything more than your burned kilojoules (and who doesn’t want to give kilojoules away?). Active.com, allows you to search for fitness events taking place in your local area.
If Other Obligations Get in Your Way…
Have a plan B and C and D and E.
Real life shouldn’t sideline your workouts, if you can help it. Having backup plans at the ready - whether they’re in your head, in your diary, or saved on your phone - will keep you prepared if you run into a snag. With a little brainstorming, you will find multiple ways to sneak in your walks, even on the most hectic days. The key is to have lots of options, including a variety of walking routes at work, at home, and around the kids’ schools or sports practice areas. You can also split up your workouts. For instance, you could walk in the morning and do toning exercises at night after you get home (or vice versa). Or if you’re really crunched, you can do half of your walk in the morning and half at lunch - or whatever suits your schedule. Remember: Doing something is better than doing nothing.
If You’re Caught Up in an All-or-Nothing Mind-Set…
Set flexible goals.
Instead of saying that you’re going to do every workout, give yourself a range, like walking four to six days a week. That way, even if you miss one (or two) workouts, you’ve still succeeded, which will inspire you for future workouts. And if you miss a workout, don’t make a big deal out of it. All-or-nothing thinking is a surefire way to fail - if you don’t do anything, you’ll never achieve the results you aspire to.
If You Feel Guilty
Multitask (and get family involved when you can).
Many women feel guilty about taking time to exercise because it takes them away from their loved ones. But it doesn’t have to be that way - and, in fact, it’s really important that it isn’t. Health is a family affair, and getting others involved is a great way to spend time together. You will be a better mum, grandmother or wife - not just by becoming a good role model but by taking such good care of yourself. You’ll reduce stress, sleep better, have more energy, and improve your mood so you’ll enjoy your family and your life even more.
If Your Willpower Fades…
Like physical energy, mental energy - which is what willpower is - wears out each time you face a challenging situation. But “skillpower” is the ability to solve problems and strategise when things get tough and willpower fades. For example, you could agree to meet friends for coffee and then end up facing down a warm, gooey muffin (using up so much of that precious willpower), or you could order your coffees to go and chat amongst yourselves while taking a pastry-free walk together.
If You Forget Your Goals…
Motivate with a note.
A visual nudge can help you stick to your goals - but only if you notice it, says Paddy Ekkekakis, an exercise psychologist. In one study, a sign that urged people to use the stairs rather than the nearby escalator increased the number of people who took the stairs by nearly 200 percent. Put your written prompt near a decision point - such as a sticky note on your alarm clock or on your office door - to remind you of your workouts. (Phone alerts can be useful too.) And remember: The boost you get from a reminder usually fades after a few days, so change the motivating messages often.
If Negative Thoughts Are Holding You Back…
Ditch the pessimistic thinking.
Fight those negative thoughts with positive statements, such as “I am walking!” or “Look how well I did yesterday.” And any time you notice toxic thoughts creeping in, think - or say - a loud no! And on days when even that seems too hard, just smile. Researchers suspect that smiling or laughing, whether it’s genuine or not, triggers good-mood brain chemicals.
If You’re Overwhelmed by Your Weight Loss Goal…
Set smaller, more doable goals - and celebrate the little victories.
While it’s always great to have a goal to improve your health, be careful not to focus on too big a chunk all at one time. Instead, set one that feels doable. For instance, if eight weeks seems like a long time to be on a program, concentrate on this week, or even on this day. If you went for a walk today, you succeeded, so celebrate! Or plan a little reward for yourself - like an uninterrupted half hour to take a bubble bath, paint your nails, or read a good book. Linking the rewards for your achievements back to your goals continues a positive spiral toward a healthier you.