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10 Steps to Keep Yourself Motivated to Exercise Regularly

10 Steps to Keep Yourself Motivated to Exercise Regularly

Disclaimer: I am not a trained health and wellness guru, nor am I medical doctor. Before embarking on any exercise activities, you should consult with your doctor or healthcare professional.

Exercise. It’s an important part of any healthy lifestyle. Exercising can be one of the hardest activities to commit to doing regularly. Scheduling a workout is easy, but getting yourself to partake in some form of physical activity (i.e. exercise) is where things get tricky. Many friends, relatives, acquaintances, and people I meet often complain about wanting to exercise regularly, but all seem to have excuses why they are unable to do so.

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There are a combination of factors why people don’t exercise, a few of these factors are: 1) lack of time, or engagement with other activities that are deemed of higher priority than exercise, 2) physical restrictions, such as having an injury or disability, 3) good ol’ laziness, and 4) being ill. Aside from being ill, three of these excuses can likely be addressed and dismissed with a little motivation.

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Below are 10 steps I use to motivate myself to exercise more regularly:

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  • Determine the types of physical activity you like or dislike, as well as the activities that you physically can or cannot do. Focus on doing the activities you enjoy, can do, and able are to financially afford. You don’t need to sign up to a gym contract to get a good work-out. There are an endless number of exercises you can do without gym equipment or weights. You can learn more about such exercises by researching websites and videos online using search terms like “exercises without weights”. The key is to explore and try new and enjoyable ways of becoming and staying physically active.
  • Visualize performing the exercise activity. William Arthur Ward was quoted saying, “If you can imagine it, you can achieve it. If you can dream it, you can become it.” This quote holds true even for small feats, like going on a daily jog. Visualizing gives your brain something to do before your body does it. It also makes exercising seem more surmountable, considering any obstacles one may face.
  • Time limit your activity and don’t cut yourself short. Tyler Durden from Fight Club said it best, “Don’t let the things you own, own you.” Your job, cell phone, computer, friends, or family can take up a lot of time, but surely you can grant yourself some time to eat, sleep, and use the bathroom, so why not a few minutes for exercise? For example, you can start with 5 or 10 minutes, three days a week, and build up from there. Even if you’re super busy traveling the world, you can take 5-10 minutes to stretch and do some push-ups or sit-ups wherever you are. You can always increase or decrease the time you spend exercising!
  • Form an exercise habit, no matter how small it is. One good habit can lead to another. Committing to too much exercise can burn a person out, especially if they haven’t had an exercise habit for a considerable period. Similarly, if you haven’t worked out for a long time, try starting with basic activities, such as simply dressing in your work-out gear, or going for a walk around the house or your neighbourhood. The key is to take time out for yourself and do something physical. Even taking 5 minutes to stretch your body is a good start, so long as you can keep doing it regularly.
  • Set milestones and goals for yourself. Having a fitness goal in mind can be helpful to staying focused. For example, if you wanted to be able to do 30 pull-ups in 60 seconds, you would want to work towards that goal by having several milestones, such as 5, 10, 15, 20, and 25 pull ups in between. Milestones ensure you keep sight of your goal by having a set of achievable and quantifiable steps leading up to your goal.
  • Get involved in the social aspect of it. Exercising alone can be a bore. Fortunately, in the digital age, it is easy to connect with fellow exercise enthusiasts who enjoy meeting up with others to partake in exercise activities of shared interest. Facebook friends, Eventbrite events, local running clubs, social fitness apps etc. all help to connect you to other people who can motivate and make it more enjoyable to exercise.
  • Build interest in the industry. For example, if you are getting into tennis, learning more about tennis racquets, string types and tensions, tennis clothing, tennis ball types etc. are all part of the journey towards becoming a more informed player. Learning about the industry products and services will give you a greater interest and appreciation for your chosen sport or activity, as well as possibly helping you boost your performance, if you learn of new methods to improve and become a better player/participant.
  • Work towards your ideal self. Remind yourself of the body and figure you see your ideal self possessing and exercise your way towards it. Let’s be clear, that apart from possible health issues, there is nothing wrong with being overweight, but a person may have a self-image problem if they feel their self-confidence reduced because of their weight or body shape. There is no harm in imagining and working towards or retaining the body you want.
  • Having a better lifestyle. Once you start to feel the benefits of regular exercise, you may also start to become more conscious of the food you eat and other aspects of your health. Exercising, eating and drinking right, as well as adequate sleep, are all important factors of living a healthy lifestyle. Eating healthy and getting adequate sleep will make it easier to retain your exercise routine.

Don’t quit. Just because you may find it hard to continue to commit yourself to three 10-minute sessions a week doesn’t mean you should stop altogether. Some physical activity is better than no physical activity at all. Don’t quit because you fall short of your milestones or goals. Forgive yourself for slipping up, dust yourself off, and try again. The longer you hold your exercise habit, the less likely you will quit, and the more likely you will build upon it!

Featured photo credit: pixabay via pixabay.com

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Published on November 8, 2019

What to Eat After a Workout (Revealed by Professional Trainer)

What to Eat After a Workout (Revealed by Professional Trainer)

With a workout plan in place, it’s important to stay consistent while slowly progressing each week. You don’t want your training to get stagnant because, over time, as your body will become used to doing the same thing. Workouts need to be intense and focused in order to drive your results.

But the workout is just part of the equation. What you do after your workout is what will really help you to gain strength, build muscle, lose fat, and enhance your fitness. This is where rest, recovery, and most importantly, nutrition, are critical to achieving your goals.

This article will look at what to eat after a workout but, before we look into that, let’s understand what actually happens inside your body when you workout.

Why It Matters What You Eat After a Workout

You may think that training in the gym is where you build strength and muscle, but that’s not the case. The gym and the workout are what sets the stage in order for you to improve your body. When you workout, you’re putting the body through a form of stress. Your body adapts to this stress in various ways; it gets bigger, stronger, fitter, and leaner.

When you strength train, you are breaking down your muscle tissue on a microscopic level. The act of resistance training creates small tears in the muscle tissue. When these tears are repaired, they get a little bit bigger than they were before. This is the act of muscle gain happening on a micro level.

However, you don’t just break down the muscle tissue and expect it to repair back bigger than before. It requires proper nutrition, hydration, and recovery. This is why it’s important to focus on what to eat after a workout.

The same thing goes for enhancing your fitness and cardiovascular function. Engaging your muscles, and cardiovascular system allows them to push through plateaus and improve your fitness levels. This will also require proper nutrition to do so. The most important thing to remember from all of this is what you do at the end of one workout helps prepare you for the next one.

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What to Eat After a Workout to Gain Muscle

Protein is going to be one of the obvious choices here but it is only part of the equation. Protein does a lot of things in the body such as:

  • Building enzymes and hormones
  • Immune system function
  • Keeping hair and nails strong
  • The building block for skin, bones, ligament, and cartilage
  • Balancing fluids
  • Maintaining proper pH
  • Transporting and storing nutrients

And in our interests in regards to fitness, it helps to build and repair muscle. Those microscopic tears in the muscle tissue require protein in order to build back larger and stronger than before.[1] When you are finished working out, your muscles are like a sponge and are wanting to absorb protein to replenish and repair.

So after a workout, you want to make sure you get a serving of protein within 30 to 60 minutes. There’s varying information about how long you can wait and still get the benefits of protein, but why wait when you’re trying to structure your workouts and meals? It’s true you don’t need protein the second you’ve finished your last rep, but you want to consume some relatively soon after training.

Since your muscles are a sponge, it makes sense to get some easily digestible nutrition in after a workout. This allows your body to make use of it quicker and not have to spend a long time digesting, absorbing, and transporting those nutrients. Protein shakes can be very helpful in this situation, but they’re not absolutely necessary. Think of protein shakes as convenience and time-saver for those situations when getting adequate protein intake may be more difficult.

The Best Protein Sources and How Much You Need

Some good post-workout protein sources include:[2]

  • Eggs
  • Tuna
  • Salmon
  • Grilled chicken
  • Oatmeal and whey or plant-based protein
  • Cottage cheese

As far as how much you need to consume, the recommended amounts involve consuming 0.14 to 0.23 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight in that first meal 30 to 60 minutes after a workout.[3] If you weigh 150 pounds, your post-workout protein requirement would be 21 to 35 grams of protein.

This will help decrease muscle protein breakdown and increase muscle protein synthesis. Muscle protein synthesis is basically just a way to say growth, but it’s where the hard work from the gym is created.

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How Many Carbs Do You Need?

Whereas protein is important for muscle recovery, carbohydrates help to refuel your body and muscles. When you work out, you use the glucose that is stored in the muscle and liver as glycogen. Intense workouts deplete these glycogen stores and your post-workout nutrition helps to restore them.

The type of activity you do will determine how much glycogen is required. High endurance activities like swimming, running, and cycling will require more than resistance training (though resistance training still will use it). After intense workouts that have more of a cardiovascular emphasis, you will want to consume 0.5 to 0.7 grams of carbs per pound of body weight. For the 150 pound person, this ends up being 75 to 105 grams of carbs.

A good combination is consuming carbs and protein together after a workout as the combination of the two can lead to more insulin secretion. This insulin secretion allows for more protein and glycogen to be uptaken by the muscles and this results in better repair and replenishment.

Your best carb choices after a workout will be the ones that are absorbed a bit faster and are easily digestible. Look for things like:

  • Oatmeal
  • Rice cakes
  • White rice
  • Chocolate milk
  • Regular and sweet potatoes
  • Fruit
  • Quinoa

What Not to Eat After a Workout

Since you have depleted your body from exercise, you want to restore as many nutrients as possible. Not only will this help nourish the body but, it’s clearly needed for improvements to fitness and physique. Consuming nutritionally devoid foods will not help to accomplish this.

Manufactured, processed, and junk foods are the ones that are devoid of nutrients. They are full of artificial ingredients, additives, and chemicals and will not help to replenish the body. They are also full of calories that are more likely to end up stored as body fat. They will also not fill you up because your body will still be requiring the nutrients that it deserves.

You will continue to be hungry for those nutrients your body craves and it will result in overeating. This is the opposite effect you want to have, especially after exercising in the hopes of getting fitter, leaner, and stronger.

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What to Drink After a Workout

Water is always going to be your best bet before, during, and after working out. Sports drinks are often consumed, but if the workout hasn’t been that intense, you are probably taking in more calories than needed – and often more than you burned.

Sports drinks can have a place, especially if it’s intensely vigorous exercise outside in the heat. This type of training can cause your body to lose a lot of water along with electrolytes through sweat. A sports drink is the easiest way to replenish all of this in those conditions.

However, water will still be a sufficient choice. Water does a lot of things besides keeping you hydrated, such as:

  • Regulating body temperature
  • Transport of nutrients
  • Circulation
  • Digestion and absorption
  • Cognitive functions

Water also helps with performance and recovery. If you are playing a competitive sport, and allow yourself to become dehydrated, this can affect your decision making and thought process. This is when you start to make plays and decisions you normally wouldn’t. This is why you want to make sure to drink through your exercise consuming 7 to 10 ounces every 10 to 20 minutes.

After your workout, you want to consume at least 8 ounces of water. When drinking water in relation to exercise, you don’t want to chug it but sip it.

Drinking water too fast can lead to cramping. You want to think of it the same way you would water a plant. When you water a plant you sprinkle on the water. If you dump it all on it just floods and pools and this is a similar impact that happens in your body.

Another tip is to drink water that is room temperature, so it’s not a shock to the body – like ice water is – when consumed.

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How Long Should I Wait to Eat After a Workout to Lose Weight?

Even if weight loss is your goal, you still need to replenish your body with carbs and protein. These are both important in the healing and recovery process, and will also prepare your body for its next workout. However, you may be able to wait a bit longer to consume them.

If you’ve been doing any form of cardio, fasted cardio, or high-intensity interval training, your body gets to a state where it’s still able to burn calories and body fat after the workout is done. The act of burning fat is called lipolysis and you want to ride this wave after your workout.[4] If you eat immediately following training, you can interrupt this process. But you also do n’t want to wait too long as your body still requires nutrition.

Waiting the same amount of time –30 to 60 minutes after a workout to eat – will allow your body to get the most fat-burning benefits from the workout. It’s also important not to go more than 2 hours after a workout without eating as you’ll start to undo the progress you made from the workout.

Final Thoughts

Exercise and nutrition need to go hand-in-hand if you’re looking for results. Whether it’s muscle gain, fat loss, improved fitness, or all of these things, it’s vitally important to pay attention to what you eat after a workout.

A priority needs to be made on protein and carbohydrates and the timing of these things will help determine your success. Avoiding the things that will set you back in your progress is also critical. Consistency and discipline with training and nutrition will be the magical combination to get the most out of your workouts.

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Featured photo credit: Ryan Pouncy via unsplash.com

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