How to Fall in Love with Cardio

For a girl who never really enjoyed fitness, the idea of getting into shape can be terrifying … take it from me. I know the struggle of not knowing where to start. I know the temptations of Netflix marathons and comfort snacking. I know the stress of having to muster the energy and courage to even walk to the gym. I know the feeling of instant insecurity the second you walk in.

The good news is that hating the gym is only a phase you’ll briefly endure for the first few weeks; it won’t last forever. My own fitness journey has been (and still is) an uphill battle. However, I’ve learned so much about myself along the way. I’ve even done the impossible in the process: I fell in love with cardio.

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1. First, you need to understand what cardio actually is.

Before you can truly become a cardio-lover, you’ll need to educate yourself on what cardio is and what it can do for you. Otherwise, it would be like expecting to fall in love with a person you’ve never even met.

Cardio is short for “cardiovascular exercise,” a term that encompasses anything that gets your heart rate pumping with the help of large muscle groups. This means that––as much as we wish it did––walking around the mall for two hours doesn’t exactly count as our cardio for the week. Although it’s great to walk as much as possible, shopping doesn’t exactly get the blood flowing or the heart pumping.

Things that don’t qualify as cardio can still be good for you. However, to count for our purposes, you’ll want to find a somewhat rigorous activity that increases your heart rate and utilizes large muscle groups like the legs and arms. Activities like jogging, spinning, dancing, sports and hiking are all great forms of cardio exercise.

2. Get rid of that negative “I hate cardio” mentality!

“Cardio” has become this scary word that people associate with being the literal worst thing ever when it comes to fitness. From t-shirts to memes to pop culture, we’ve become an entire society of cardio-haters. Unfortunately, this mentality often forms before we even give cardio a real chance. We buy “cardio is hardio” shirts before ever seeing a treadmill in person, and we give up on spinning before we even sign up for our first class.

Before you embark on your cardio-loving journey, you’ll need to go into it with a clear mind. You’ll need to erase all the resentment you have toward cardio and start with a clean slate. This will hopefully allow you to see your love for cardio through to its fullest potential!

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3. Try out several forms of cardio to find your fit.

When testing out different cardio workouts, some people fall in love with a specific sport or a machine at the gym. Personally, I’ve grown most fond of running and spinning over the last few months. Finding a workout of choice really depends on the person, so don’t be afraid to try out several activities until you find one that really excites you.

You’ll want to find an activity or exercise that makes you genuinely excited to get up and go to the gym. For instance, I take a spin class every Wednesday night; I look forward to that class every single day that leads up to it! This excitement I have for spinning causes me to want to be as good as I can at it. It makes me work as hard as I can, all for that incredibly satisfying and rewarding feeling I get afterward.

4. Give every activity you try a fair chance!

My biggest piece of advice to someone starting their cardio journey is to really give every activity a fair shot. I almost gave up on running on at least six different occasions, but now I can’t picture my gym routine without it. This happens to everyone at least once in their life, whether in fitness or the real world. So, what’s the main culprit for the urge to give up on something so easily?

I find that what makes me want to give up on things is not being good at them right away. But, much like anything else in life, it just takes practice. When I first started using a treadmill, I remember always being next to people who were on their second and third mile without even breaking a sweat. Meanwhile, I was on my second or third water break and barely 0.23 miles in.

I remember always feeling so discouraged about how sucky of a runner I was compared to everyone else. Sometimes, I still have days that make me feel that way. However, I decided to try as hard as possible to never look at anyone else’s stats while I run. I look forward and focus only on my own workout. This allows me to not feel insecure about my progress by directly comparing myself to a person with a completely different body-type and stamina.

Worrying only about my own run has allowed me to focus solely on my own progress. Although my milestones are small, they happen every single day. Every fraction of a mile I run further and every second my record time drops, I am filled with pride in my fitness journey. This feeling invigorates me to improve and makes me so excited for my next visit to the gym.

5. Find the little things that make you excited to work out

Sometimes, extra motivation is always helpful. You can find this motivation to get active in even the smallest parts of your workout experience. Two things that make me feel really pumped about my workouts are my cardio playlist and my gym shoes.

I have a 30-minute cardio playlist that I’ve crafted perfectly with rises, falls, beats and drops that help me keep a good rhythm while I run. I update this playlist every week or so, whenever I get tired of an old song or excited about a new one. I also found my favorite pair of running shoes ever (Salmon Pink Adidas NMDs). This one was a big deal for me because the shoes I had been wearing before always hurt my feet and gave me foot cramps while I ran.

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The bottom line here is that you can find the joy and motivation in just about anything when it comes to fitness. The hardest part is the beginning of your journey. Working up the courage and energy to get fit is daunting and scary. But once you get a momentum going, it’s important to stick to your grind and keep up the good work. You’ll be amazed by where it can take you!