How I Grew to Love Working Out

I’m really looking forward to the workout I’m going to do tonight.

I know, a crazy statement, right? Sometimes I take myself aback with my enthusiasm for working out; an activity I know will be difficult, sweaty and time consuming. But I didn’t always used to be this way. Trust me, if you had talked to a 15-year-old me you would have to have picked my jaw up off the floor at the suggestion that I would one day be able to run six miles easily.

I’ve struggled with body image my entire life; I always wanted to work out but never knew how to get there, how to reach that elusive magical place that it seemed like gym-a-holics had found. I was the skeptic who read the statement at the beginning of this article and rolled my eyes while a pit dropped in my stomach. How could working out be such a struggle for me and so easy for others?

I won’t lie; getting to that “magical” place isn’t easy, nor is it the solution to every problem. I don’t always wake up with a smile on my face at the prospect of working out, but it is no longer something I dread. I won’t pretend that I love every aspect of exercise or that it is my absolute favorite thing, but I will try and share some tips on how I got to where I am now in the hopes that other workout skeptics may learn to find their happy place.

Learn to embrace the journey

Instant gratification: it’s something we all crave, but it’s not always achievable. For the longest time I was so hung up on getting to my “dream body” that I didn’t bother to congratulate myself for the awesome progress that I had already made.

I’m sure you’ve heard this said before, but working out isn’t just a short time, instant gratification thing. Instead, it’s a lifestyle change that will affect the rest of your life in a positive way. The only downside to those kinds of changes? They take time.

Instead of beating yourself up for not being at your “goal” yet, take time to enjoy the journey. Give yourself kudos for the little things. Smile when you see the beginnings of those abs in the mirror. Sure, they might not be a six-pack yet, but you’re still lookin’ good!

I was so frustrated myself for not being able to achieve my “dream body” for the longest time until I finally looked in the mirror and realized that my dream body was already there. It had been there all along, and I just hadn’t realized it because I hadn’t stopped and re-evaluated. It’s about the journey.

Find what makes you happy

There’s a lot more to working out than merely running around a track or lifting weights. If that’s your thing, great! But if not, don’t get discouraged because there are so many other ways to move your body. Yoga, Zumba, Barre, Cycle, Horseback Riding…the world is really your oyster.

On a similar note, try out a group exercise class while you’re at it! Group exercise classes can be a great way to try out a new way of moving your body while committing you to working hard in a group setting. Working out with others almost always means working out harder.

Make working out part of a routine

This is honestly the best advice that I can give because this is what will lead to long-term results. Each semester, I develop a workout schedule of when I will exercise during those months. I give myself one day off each week, and then make sure that I workout on each of the other days for at least 30 minutes.

I know this can seem daunting at first, so try what works for you. At the end of the day, though, long-term change cannot be put into effect through sporadic visits to the gym every so often. This was really hard for me to grasp at the beginning of working out; it was hard enough to find motivation to go once a week, let alone several! I would often start a new workout routine downloaded from the Internet only to quit around the second week in because I had forgotten about it or didn’t have the motivation.

Now I make a routine that works for me and my schedule, and I stick to it as much as possible. It usually takes around four weeks to build a new habit, so be sure to commit to trying something for at least that long before giving it up. What you’ll end up finding is that it just becomes a part of your life.

Even on my days when I have no motivation, I still know that working out is something I need to get done. In the same way that I know I have to start on that final paper, I know that I need to work out, even if I’m not excited about it. It takes a while to get to this point, but once you put in a little effort into starting a routine you’ll see major benefits.

Embrace the good and bad days

The fact of the matter is that not every day will be a great day. Some days I feel pressed for time, some days my body is super tired for no reason and some days I just plain don’t feel like doing it. On these days it can be easy to get down on myself, to get angry that I didn’t run my mile as fast as I know I could or be pissed that I just don’t have the motivation to do that extra set. When this happens, though, I try and remind myself that not every day will be a great one, and that’s okay. Bodies aren’t machines; they get tired and worn down and can’t always live up to expectations. Minds aren’t machines either, and sometimes you just really don’t feel like doing anything. It’s some of those days, though, that I have to remind myself to be proud for just getting it done. When merely getting to the gym is a challenge, completing a workout (no matter how sucky it turns out to be) is an accomplishment.

I also make sure to applaud myself on the days when my body does what I ask of it, even when it’s difficult. I celebrate after each of my long runs, and congratulate myself after each really difficult cycle class I make it through. I’ve taught myself to look at working out not as a chore, but as something to look forward to. I can clear my head as I run, and I feel so good after I’ve accomplished a difficult workout.

At the end of the day, for someone who is looking to get into working out the entire process can seem rather daunting, and I totally get that. But I’m here to promise you that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, that you can do it, you can be successful, and you can achieve your goals. All it takes is a little grit and determination, and, of course, a little bit of sweat.