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13 Tips to Actually Enjoy Exercising

13 Tips to Actually Enjoy Exercising

Is staying in shape always something that gets bumped to the bottom of your list? I know many people that complain about not having enough time to exercise. I think they are lying to themselves. The real problem is that they hate exercising, so it will never be a priority.

I used to hate exercising too. Going to the gym, running and most forms of physical activity seemed dull and painful compared to most other ways I could spend my time. But by not giving up and looking for a way I could enjoy working out, I reversed this pattern. Now I exercise 5-6 times per week and I hate not being able to go.

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Here’s some tips to make exercise something you actually want to do:

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  1. Make it a Habit – Remove the thinking element. If you can make exercise a habit, then it becomes that much easier to go. Here’s some tips on making habits stick if you aren’t sure where to start.
  2. Get a Partner – Get someone else to go to the gym with you. Pick someone who is committed to their health. Not only can you socialize with someone while you’re there, but you’ll have a backup in case your motivation alone isn’t enough to drag yourself out there.
  3. Tune Your Challenge Level – Here are two bad ways to start exercising. Go out and run until your winded and dry-heaving into a ditch. Show up to the gym, walk around, don’t do anything strenuous and go back home. In one case you put the challenge level to high, the other wasn’t challenging at all. Your goal is to set a workout routine that is challenging, but not overwhelming. Challenge is key to enjoyment.
  4. Set Goals – Not weight-loss or muscle gain goals, but fitness goals. Set goals to beat your past records in distance ran, push-ups or chin-ups you can do, weight you can lift or degree you can stretch. Fitness goals make the gym a game where you strive to beat your previous high-score.
  5. Get Past Your Comfort Zone – So what if you aren’t the most svelte or muscular person in the gym? Self-consciousness can be a big obstacle to enjoying your workout. The key is to get used to it. When you continue to show up, you’ll pay less attention to the people around you and more to your workout.
  6. Experiment – Don’t stick with the same routine. Mix it up and try different activities. There are many different exercise routines you can follow or activities to try. If you don’t like lifting weights or running, try sports, martial arts or dancing. Assuming that exercise needs to be pumping iron or jogging may limit you from finding something you would truly enjoy.
  7. Music – This shouldn’t come as a surprise, but music can enhance a workout. I find running almost twice as enjoyable with music than without it.
  8. Short Workouts – Don’t have time or enthusiasm to last an hour? Just go for twenty or thirty minutes. Shorter workouts can be better than longer ones if the intensity is higher and you become more focused as a result. After an hour or two of exercise your body starts to go into a state where more exercise can actually reduce physical improvements.
  9. Daily Challenges – Make your workout into a game. Sticking with the same type of exercises can get boring, so mix it up by introducing an unusual workout challenge. My gym partner and I have played a game that involves sit-ups and a deck of cards or one workout day that involves different types of push-ups. If you aren’t sure where to get ideas, look through a magazine like Mens Fitness which usually features a variety of different workouts.
  10. Reward Showing Up, Not Weight Loss – Some people have gotten the idea that they should reward themselves for losing weight or gaining muscle. I disagree. Instead, I think you should reward showing up to the gym and exercising regularly. There are many ways you can lose or gain weight in unhealthy fashions. Rewarding exercise is rewarding your commitment to health.
  11. Make Exercise Your Stress Relief – I know many people that swear by using the gym to relieve stress. Some of them will head to the gym because of a frustrating day even if it isn’t on their schedule. Exercising can be cathartic and release negative feelings if you get used to using it that way. Then instead of avoiding the gym because of a stressful day, it will be your reason to go.
  12. Record Improvements – Again I recommend recording fitness over body improvements. Recording weight loss or muscle gain is a good idea, but because of the way your metabolism functions it becomes increasingly harder to make weight changes as you go to the gym more regularly. But fitness improvements can, if you work on it, continue to rise. Keep a record of your strength, endurance and flexibility so you can get pride in your accomplishments.
  13. Make Time – You can’t say you don’t have time to exercise. Exercise improves your energy levels and mood which makes you more productive than any time lost. Find your forty minutes somewhere in the day and make it a commitment. Get up a bit earlier and go in the morning. Or schedule it right after work before you settle down for the day. Once you make time and make it a habit, you’ll actually want to exercise instead of just feeling you should.
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Last Updated on October 16, 2018

The Ultimate Guide to Help You Sleep Through the Night Tonight

The Ultimate Guide to Help You Sleep Through the Night Tonight

It’s well past midnight and you’ve got to get up in less than six hours. You toss and turn all night. Before you know it, another hour passes by and you start panicking.

If I don’t get to sleep in the next 30 minutes, I’m going to be exhausted tomorrow!”

One thing is for sure, you’re not alone. Over 70M+ Americans have stated that they don’t get the proper sleep they need at night.[1] So what could possibly be causing this insomnia epidemic?

Throughout my entrepreneurial journey of building my language learning company, I have experimented and researched dozens of best sleep practices. Some have flopped but a few have dramatically improved the quality of my life and work.

In this article, I’ll look into the reason why you’re sleep deprived and how to sleep through the night tonight.

Why you can’t sleep through the night

The first step to improving anything is getting to the bottom of the root problem. Different studies have shown the reasons why most people cannot sleep well at night.[2] Here are the main ones that the average person faces:

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Stress

If you’ve ever stayed up at night worrying about something, know that it’s a major sleep inhibitor. When you’re feeling stress, your mind and body becomes more activated, making it incredibly difficult to fall asleep. Even when you do manage to sleep, it won’t be deep enough to help you feel rested the next day.

Exposure to blue light before sleep time

We’re exposed to harmful blue light on a daily basis through the use of our digital screens. If you’ve never heard of blue light, it’s part of the visible light spectrum that suppresses melatonin, our sleep hormones. Other harmful effects include digital eye strains and macular cellular damage.

While daytime exposure to blue light is not very harmful, night time exposure tricks our brain into thinking it’s daytime. By keeping your brain alert and suppressing melatonin, your mind is unable to shut down and relax before bedtime.

Eating close to bedtime

Eating too late can actually be an issue for many people, especially those who are older than 40. The reason is, eating before laying down increases the chances of Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), in which stomach acid backflows into the esophagus.

Another reason not to eat too late is sleep quality. Even if you manage to sleep right after eating, it’s likely that you’ll wake up tired. Instead of letting your body rest during sleep, it has to digest the food that was entered before bedtime.

Rule of thumb: eat 3-4 hours before bedtime.

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Medical conditions

In some cases, it could be medical conditions that cause your sleep problems. If you can’t relate yourself to the above reasons or any of these common sleep problem causes, you should visit the doctor.

The vicious sleep cycle

The biggest danger to repeating the bad habits mentioned above is the negative cycle that it can take you through. A bad night’s sleep can affect not only your energy but your willpower and decision making skills.

Here’s an example of a bad sleep pattern:

You get a bad night’s sleep
–> You feel tired and stressful throughout the day.
–> You compensate it with unhealthy habits (for example junk food, skipping exercises, watching Netflix etc.)
–> You can’t sleep well (again) the next night.

    You can imagine what could happen if this cycle repeats over a longer period of time.

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    How to sleep better (throughout the night)

    To help you break the vicious cycle and stop waking up in the middle of the night, I’ll explain to you a list of actionable steps to solve your trouble staying asleep.

    1. Take control over the last 90 minutes of your night

    What you do (or don’t do) before bedtime have significant impact on the quality of your sleep. Many times, it can be the difference between staying up until 4am and sleeping like a baby.

    Here are a few suggestions:

    • Go from light to dark – Darkness stimulates production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Turn off unused light around the house, and think about investing into warm light that you can use in the bedroom before bedtime.
    • Avoid screens (or wear blue light blocking glasses) – Keep the bedroom a technology-free zone as the light from electronic devices can disturb your sleep. If you need to work, wear blue light blocking glasses (also known as computer glasses) throughout or before you sleep to prevent sleep disruption.
    • Find an activity that helps you to wind down  This could be anything that calms you down, and reduces thinking (especially unnecessary stress). Fir example, listening to soothing/good feel music, taking a hot bath, reading or meditating.
    • Keep any electronics you have on the other side of the room or outside the room – One of the most harmful things that can disrupt your sleep is the notifications you get from your smartphones. The simplest way to avoid this is to keep it away from you.
    • Create a bedtime routine – A night routine is a couple of things you do prior to going to bed. By doing these things every night, you’ll have a more restful and high-quality sleep. Learn how to pick up a night routine here: The Ultimate Night Routine Guide to Sleep Better and Wake Up Productive

    2. Eat the right nutrients (and avoid the wrong ones)

    What you eat (not just when we eat) plays a critical role in your sleep quality. If you’re ever in doubt of what to eat to improve your sleep, take the following into consideration:

    • Kiwi – This green fruit may be the ultimate pre-bed snack. When volunteers ate two kiwis an hour before hitting the hay, they slept almost a full extra hour. Kiwis are full of vitamins C and E, serotonin and folate—all of which may help you snooze.
    • Soy foods – Foods made with soy such as tofu, miso and edamame, are rich in isoflavones. These compounds increase the production of serotonin, a brain chemical that influences the body’s sleep-wake cycle.
    • Fiber-rich foods – Eating more fiber could be key for better sleep. Eating fiber was associated with more restorative slow-wave sleep—the more you eat, the better you sleep—per a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. Fiber prevents blood sugar surges that may lower melatonin. Get a fiber boost from beans, artichokes, bran cereal and quinoa.
    • Salmon – Most fish, especially salmon, halibut and tuna boost vitamin B6, which is needed to make melatonin— a sleep-inducing hormone triggered by darkness.

    3. Adjust your sleep temperature

    Once you’ve gone through the first 2 recommendations, the last step to experiment with is temperature. According to Sleep.org, the ideal temperature for sleep is 60-67 Farenheit. This may be cooler than what most people are used to, but keep in mind that our body temperature changes once we fall asleep.

    Rule of thumb: sleeping in cooler temperature is better for sleep quality than warmer temperature.

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    Find out how to maintain the optimal temperature to sleep better here: How to Sleep Faster with the Best Temperature

    Sleep better form now on

    Congrats on making it to the end of this guide on sleep. If you’re serious about taking the necessary steps in improving your sleep, remember to take it one step at a time.

    I recommend trying just one of the steps mentioned such as taking a hot bath, blocking out blue light at night, or sleeping in cooler temperature. From there, see how it impacts your sleep quality and you can keep doing what works, and throw away what doesn’t.

    As long as you follow these steps cautiously and diligently, I know you’ll see improved results in your sleep!

    Featured photo credit: pixabay via pixabay.com

    Reference

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