3 Exercise Tips and Tools To Get Your Motivation Back

Are your New Years Resolutions a distant memory, or is your motivation starting to pick up in anticipation of swimsuit season?

Over the last six months, I've repeatedly fallen off the exercise bandwagon and climbed back on. Honestly, I'm ok with that, because I've learned a lot in the process!

One of my New Year's Resolutions was to fix and eat healthier meals. I didn't actually get around to changing my eating habits until March, when I cleaned out my closet and got rid of lots of processed and junk foods. Since then, we've maintained our habits of buying lots of fresh produce, nuts, seeds, and dried fruits for snacks, and whole grain bread. That's an accomplishment I'm proud of. We still need to work on eating out less, but hey, we've got another six months!

Another of my New Year's Resolutions was to exercise three times a week. This is where it got tricky. I don't enjoy exercising. At all. I don't like sweating for one thing, but my biggest issue is that I usually get bored after three weeks. Hence, I didn't stick with the 10 minute Pilates solution DVD I mentioned before, and my success with running was also short lived.

Now my goal is to get back to my natural weight. My dietitian sister-in-law talked about that in her guest post about normal eating back in February. I highly recommend reading that post if you're re-evaluating your healthy eating goals. My natural weight is what I weigh when I am moderately active and eating healthy: it's where I feel best about myself, when I'm not overindulging or over exercising. It's a BMI of 22, 132 lbs. I've climbed to 145 lbs., so it will take a little doing to get back there.

I've tried four different approaches to exercise so far this year. As a result, I've learned a few things. First, here are three great tools to keep your exercise routine fresh and exciting, and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Tool #1: Lose It! App
I discovered this app about a week ago, and I've used it every day since. If you have a smartphone, or use Google Chrome as your computer browser, you can download the app, and it's free!

In Lose It! you can set fitness goals and record your weight every day. You can also search for and enter what you eat every day to record your nutrition info. Since losing weight is about taking in fewer calories than you expend, it's got a handy little slider that shows you how many more calories you should have each day, and if you go over. It also subtracts the calories you burn through exercise.

You can also set it up so that it emails you a weekly report. It will generate reports for your food, weight, and exercise trends, chart your progress towards your goals, and allow you to add custom foods and exercises for a really accurate result. Plus, you can add friends who also use the app for some accountability! 

Tool #2: Netflix
These days, it seems like almost everyone has Netflix. It's so convenient and reasonably priced! For $7.99 a month, you get unlimited access to their selection of online DVDs. Did you know that Netflix has a lot of exercise DVDs on Watch Instantly? No need to rent the DVD and wait for it to come in the mail, or pay for the DVD and find out you don't like it. The variety makes it easy to mix it up and try something new, at minimal cost.

Tool #3: Craig's List
You can pretty much find anything on Craig's List. We bought a Wii for $80, gently used, and a Wii Fit Plus with balance board, brand new in the box, for $75. You might have to check back regularily and wait for what you want, but it's worth it! Look up your city and see what people are selling if you're looking for an exercise machine or specific workout stuff, like DVDs or weights.

Beyond discovering these tools, I've also learned a few tips:

It's always better with friends! Image.
Tip #1: Get Accountability
Seriously! It makes such a difference when you have someone to ask you how it's going. Right now, Brian and I are both using the Wii Fit Plus. It charts our progress, so we can both see how each other are doing. Similarly  we've added each other as friends on Lose It, so we can see how well we're doing on eating healthy.

Tip #2: Start Where You Are
I've been lured into exercise routines that promise a fit and toned body in 4 weeks, but I've found that I have a much better chance of sticking with something long term if I don't try to tackle too much, too soon. That Pilates DVD was way above my flexibility level, and it was frustrating not being able to keep up. I should have started with an easier Pilates DVD and worked up to that one.

Tip #3: Embrace Change
When your motivation is flagging, it's probably a sign that it's time to try something else. When walking three times a week got boring, I should have switched right away to running, and when that got boring, switched to something else instead of just quitting exercise when I tired of doing the same thing. If you get sick of DVDs, try switching between two or three workouts during the week, like doing Pilates Mondays, yoga on Wednesdays, and a dance workout on Fridays. Mix it up with a class at the YMCA.

Have you found any of the above to be true for you? What do you do when your motivation fizzles out? Share your tips and tools with us in the comments!

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