GETTING back in the gym can be a difficult task. It literally took me three weeks to get back in the gym after a long sabbatical. I'd set my alarm every morning, it would go off, I'd start to move the blanket, and then I'd come up with an excuse why I wasn't going to go. And the list of excuses went on and on.
Restarting is seriously the hardest part. When you first restart it can be really discouraging. For one, you can barely do half the time you used to do on the treadmill or elliptical or whatever machine or exercise you did. Then you see all these hot body people and you just feel blah. Not to mention all those gosh darn mirrors that just so beautifully highlight your cellulite.
I'm not going to lie, it's hard when you first go back, but don't give up. I know we all wish there was some magic pill we could take, or some magic Smurf potion we could drink to make us thinner and more toned, but don't believe the hype, unfortunately there isn't! Eating healthy combined with exercise is the only way to do it. So save your money on the quick fixes.
I am not a workout junkie or body builder. I am a regular girl who enjoys working out, eating healthy, and staying in shape. I am just like you.
Here are 11 things I do to keep me motivated in the gym.
1. I avoid looking at myself naked until I am least four weeks into the gym if I stopped working out for a while. It's better to be surprised when results come rather than sit playing with that belly fat, angry that there are no results yet. It can be depressing. I won't even look at myself in the changing room at the mall until I'm four weeks deep. It's a great surprise, trust me!
2. Cheat. Yep, cheat. It's totally unrealistic for me to say I am never going to eat bad food. Allow yourself at least one "bad" meal a week. Or make room for a naughty snack every couple days. It's input vs output. Just make sure you put out enough effort to enjoy that snack! Depriving yourself of those simple pleasures of life leads to binging. I take the lesser of the evils, so give me that Rice Crispies treat!
3. Don't ignore cravings. When you get a late night craving you feel like you can't resist, eat something low in calories and fat, especially if your stomach is screaming at you. Don't ignore it. Or, if you are not really that hungry and are just being greedy, instead of snacking, chug water. Drink a ton of water until you feel full, then you won't even remember that craving. I lost a lot of weight once by cutting out night snacking and replacing it with water alone.
4. Avoid keeping junk in the house. If it's not there you are forced to eat something healthy. Why tempt yourself? Trust me, do this and you will start to unconsciously choose the good snack over the junk after a while. When you eat healthier, healthy food just starts tasting way better (as it should).
5. Don't diet! The first three letters of diet spell DIE! I don't believe in dieting. I believe in changing your eating habits lifestyle changes. Diets usually fail. Slowly transform your eating habits. It's easier to do it as a transition than to jump into it.
6. Have a work-out buddy. If you don't have a work- out buddy then have a motivation buddy. Trust me, it helps so much. I love those morning phone calls, "fatty boom boom get outta bed, go to the gym!" I like the tough love.
7. Don't do the same work-out everyday. Have something different planned everyday to keep it interesting. There's nothing worse than a boring, monotonous workout.
8. Go to the gym, park, track, or wherever you go to work out with a plan in mind of what you are going to do. It feels great when you go with a plan and you reach your goal. It keeps you motivated while you are there too.
9. Write down what you eat. Sometimes knowing that I am going to have to write down everything I eat at the end of the day diverts me from unnecessary snacking because I know I will feel bad later when I see it on paper. It also helps you get a nice idea of how much you should be eating.
10. Listen to your tummy in general. If you have hunger pains, your body needs fuel. Eat. You will feel much hungrier when you work out. It's because you are working hard. So just snack healthy. Your tummy doesn't lie. Make sure you are eating enough.
11. Compliment yourself everyday. No, literally, look at yourself in the mirror and say three affirmative statements, "You is kind, you is smart, you is important!" (Compliments, The Help). I love myself fat, skinny, chubby, fit, toned. Whatever state my body is in (and it's been in many) I love myself. I just like how healthy feels!
Exercise has great effects on your physical and mental health. If you can't afford to go to the gym, work with what you have. YouTube has great videos. You can be and do whatever you want as long as you put in the effort and work. Don't look at another person's body and wish you had it, GET IT.
Elizabeth A Hylton is a Jamaican-American writer, actress, and clinical nurse specialist hailing from Massachusetts. She has a passion for advocating women's rights and fostering a Jamaican community that values strong women. She specialises in child and adolescent mental health and relationship advice. You can find her on Twitter: @MsBettyLou and Facebook: Facebook.com/MsBettyLou100. Send your thoughts to Msbettylou100@gmail.com.