Motivating yourself to start an exercise program and to keep it up can be the hardest part of getting fit. Fortunately, there are 10 ways you can motivate yourself to get off the couch and on the road to fitness. Once you do get into the habit of exercising, you may wonder how you ever enjoyed life without it.
1. Dress the part
Buy some flattering exercise clothes. Put them on first thing in the morning and look in the mirror. You have taken the first step. That was easy! Now, go to the gym and let everyone see how good you look in those workout clothes.
2. Find your favorite fitness routine
Explore as many forms of fitness as you can. Try tennis, swimming, zumba and yoga, whatever looks like fun. Trial and error can help identify which fitness regimen works best for you. Some people prefer to exercise alone while others enjoy the camaraderie of a group. You can decide which you prefer or whether you want to do both. One advantage to group exercise is that you might work out for longer in a class that sets a time limit. Another advantage of group fitness is making friends, which may provide the motivation to show up. Exercise classes can provide a social support network.
3. Exercise when it works best for you
If you’re an early riser, consider exercising before anything distracts you. If you need to unwind after work, evening classes could be just the thing. And if you’re really busy, jumping on that fitness game’s balance board whenever there’s time may work quite well. Experiment with different exercise times and schedules until you find which make it easiest.
4. Make exercise fun
Make exercise fun, advises the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition. Don’t think of exercise as a chore because you might resent it. Listen to music while you run. Look for beautiful scenery to walk alongside. Pick a class or a sport you really enjoy. The fun component will make it enjoyable rather than something you have to do.
5. Buddy up and take advantage of your friends
Studies show that working out with a friend does increase the likelihood that you will stay motivated.
6. Jog your memory as to why you exercise
As important as those reasons are, you may forget all about them when the couch is so comfortable and it’s raining outside. Remind yourself how much better you feel and look after fitness efforts. Focus on your goal. Maybe you want to impress your ex partner or multiply your dating chances?
What exactly are you after? Do you want killer abs? Do you want to look good in that tiny dress? Maybe you want to maintain flexibility so you can play with the grandkids. Maybe you want to get in shape for the vacation of a lifetime. Visualize that success. Keep your eyes on the prize.
7. Don’t compare yourself to others
Yes, that person sitting next to you in yoga can easily twist herself into a pretzel while minutes in the downward dog posture gets you winded, but you still benefit by trying. If you stick with it, you will be more flexible, have more endurance and feel better about yourself. Maybe one day you too will be able to twist yourself into a pretzel or even run a 10K.
8. Reward yourself
You worked hard. You deserve it. After a morning exercise session, treat yourself to brunch with your exercise buddies. Or buy a bouquet of flowers on the way home from exercise class. Once you lose a few inches, it may be time to treat yourself to a new wardrobe.
9. Consider the price of not going out to exercise
When deciding whether to stay couch-bound or head out, remember how you feel after you do exercise. Better, right? Then remember how sluggish you feel when you don’t. Also consider how long it will take you to get back in shape if you miss a few sessions. You really don’t want to go there.
10. Challenge yourself
Challenges keep exercise interesting. You may start out with plenty of enthusiasm but after a while your favorite fitness activity can start to feel like more of the same. A micro challenge makes it a fun game. Try working out with heavier weights or add a few more minutes of walking on the track. Or try another form of exercise. It’s good to mix things up. Social media offers a new way to promote exercise as you can challenge friends to work out.
Getting and staying motivated can be a challenge but once you get fit, fitness could become your favorite new habit.
Why is it that low carbers frequently experience shockingly rapid weight loss at the beginning of their diets, then appear to “plateau”?
Does going on a ketogenic diet mean you have to stay on it forever?
Why do many folks experience a few days of low-energy moodiness (“low carb flu”) at the beginning of ketogenic diets?
The answer to all of these queries can be found in understanding our body’s relationship with glycogen.
Glycogen is the way the body processes and stores glucose as energy, chiefly in the liver and the muscles. High intensity activities like sprinting draw upon the glycogen tucked away in our muscles for fuel, which is why you hear about marathoners “carb-loading” in the days before a big race.
The glycogen stored in the liver is what keeps specific systems running all day, including the brain, kidney cells, and red blood cells. For anyone not low-carbing, the body needs a minimum of 100g of glucose each day in order to meet the basic demands of the brain.
So — what if a person consumes significantly less than 100g of carbohydrates in a day? What happens when the body runs out of glycogen stores?
The hierarchy of energy sources
Your body’s just as lazy as you are on Sunday afternoon eating chips on the couch, and it will get energy from the easiest sources possible as long as they’re available. The zippiest energy comes from carbohydrates in the diet, especially simple carbs quickly converted into sugars (think white bread, sweets, fructose, etc.), with more complex carbs following shortly after.
For a person following SAD (Standard American Diet) — we’re talking easily over 300g carbohydrates a day on average — the body may not ever burn through this ingested potential energy. Instead, it simply sweeps it away under the rug — you know, the one bulging around your waist — where no one will ever notice.
When you cut ingested carbs down to below that 100g/day mark, however, something quite interesting happens. The body burns through those consumed carbs first, then turns to the glycogen stores in the liver to maintain its basic system functions. When those stores run out — usually after about a day of carb deprivation — is where the magic really happens.
Gluconeogenesis: the body’s back-up plan
The body may be a lazy bastard, but it keeps a few tricks up its sleeves. If there’s no more glucose nor glycogen to be had, a process called gluconeogenesis begins in the liver (long one, but break it down: “gluco” = glucose, “neo” = new, “genesis” = to make).
Gluconeogenesis is the reason why you don’t actually need any dietary carbohydrates whatsoever to keep rattling down the street. When faced with low carbohydrate intake in the diet, the liver will kick into gluconeogenesis gear, generating the glucose necessary for brain function from glycerol in lipids and amino acids in proteins.
Hitting the wall: low carb flu and fat burning mode
However, getting your glucose through gluconeogenesis is also is a much longer process, and rather shocking for your lazy punk of a body to switch to all of a sudden. Consider those marathon athletes — the condition known as “hitting the wall,” when total exhaustion just suddenly takes over and no more energy is to be had, is the direct result of glycogen depletion in the muscles.
For non-marathoners, glycogen depletion is generally brought on by switching to a diet low in carbs, and the first few days eating this way often brings on similar feelings of running into a wall. It’s a beast known by many names – the Atkins flu, Induction flu, keto flu, low carb flu — and is marked by 2-3 days of nausea, headache, low-energy, and irritability. The body’s been so used to getting its energy from quick-n-easy carb-cheezies; the low carb flu is the bummer of a side effect as it switches over to other sources of fuel.
What lies on the other side of the flu is excellent news for anyone looking to ditch the jiggle, however — the best alternative energy source for the newly adjusted body is its fat stores. Congratulations: you have now entered fat-burning mode!
Is it really fat? Losing water weight
It’s very common for those new to low-carbing to lose a significant amount of weight very quickly at the beginning of their carb restriction. We could be talking four pounds, or even ten or twelve, depending on how overweight the person is to begin with. Why is this? Isn’t this a dangerously fast rate of weight loss?
It’s all about the glycogen stores — as it turns out, each gram of glycogen is bound to 3-4 hefty grams of water. So, as your body burns its way through the reduced dietary carbs and into the glycogen stores, the water attached to the glycogen flushes away as well — resulting in the phenomenon commonly known as “water weight.” There’s no fat loss here, yet — the glycogen and accompanying water’s simply been squeezed out of your muscles and liver.
This also explains why plenty of folks experience an alarming weight gain in the day just following a cheat meal. Even if the ingested carbs are at a moderate level (i.e. consumption of a grilled cheese sammie, not an entire deep-fried birthday cake), your greedy liver and muscles snatch up as much glucose as they can take, and up to four grams of weighty water accompany each grabbed gram of glycogen. Bam! Instant significant weight gain.
Water weight: easy come, easy go, neither cause for panic nor glee. Truly incinerating the nasty fat requires sticking to a low carb diet for a while, taking advantage of fat burning mode over time.
Will all the fat burned during ketosis return with a vengeance?
One of the most persistent warnings low-carb naysayers have regarding losing weight in a ketogenic state is that “you’ll just gain it all back once you go off the diet.” The horror!
Also, completely untrue. The “water weight” resulting from glycogen stores will return almost immediately as soon as you switch back to ingesting more than 100g/carbs a day — that’s just the nature of glycogen storage. Any weight gain beyond that is as a result of caloric surplus, not anything having to do with coming off ketosis.
The bottom line
Glycogen is a way the body stores glucose as energyUnder 100g/carbs/day will begin to deplete glycogen storesSwitching away from glycogen as your principal energy source causes the “low carb flu”Glycogen binds with water molecules; flushing it away results in loss of “water weight”
Whether you prefer long runs or weightlifting, a post-workout refuel is crucial for the recovery process. Not only does it help large muscle groups rebuild for the next outing, but the right foods can release more slowly over time for sustained sustenance. Here is a great collection of foods to make sure you are working out out at peak performance.
This sweet superfood has carbohydrates, fiber, and protein — with zero fat. They replenish glycogen in the body, which is essential for helping you maintain output when your body has run out of fuel. Oh, and don’t forget about Vitamin B6, C, D, iron, magnesium, and potassium — all of which help your muscles go the extra mile.
This milk derivative is made from bacteria and provides a dozen grams of protein or more. Studies have shown that high-protein and dairy diets can lead to favorable outcomes when measuring fat loss.
Pita and Hummus
This may not be first thing you think about when it comes to recovery snacks, but maybe it should be. The pita provides slow-release carbs that help your body stay energized long after ingestion, and hummus is loaded with protein in case you favor anabolic workouts.
One word: potassium. This essential electrolyte is important for proper fluid balance and muscle function. Intense workouts will deplete potassium, but one banana provides over 400mg of the nutrient.
This is another example of a common food that does not always seem like a go-to workout snack. But thanks to all their folate, Vitamin A, phosphorous, selenium, and protein, eggs should definitely be on your radar. They are also loaded with choline, an essential ingredient that goes into making healthy brain cells.
Unusual levels of stress can negatively impact your ability to accomplish personal goals and maintain good health. Challenges such as resolving a family crisis or losing weight become more difficult when stressors mount. Consider the following tips to help you reduce your stress.
Get More Stuff Like This In Your Inbox