Fitness was a big part of my life growing up. From soccer to basketball to swimming to track & field, I played/swam/ran it all.
In high school, I stuck with just running and I looked forward to heading down to the track or the cross country trails as soon as the final bell rang each afternoon. I loved being on a team, competing, having my workouts planned out for me, and getting in shape alongside friends.The biggest change I experienced in college, fitness-wise, is that my motivation for running/working out shifted. The competition aspect disappeared and working out became more about knowing I’d feel better if I did.
It also became something that wasn’t quite as easy to schedule into my days since I didn’t have mandatory practices every day after school, but it’s something I’ve consciously fought to keep in my schedule and not let it get crowded out because I know it’s so good for my body and for my mental health.
Here are a few ways I stay motivated to be active and work out 5-6 days per week.
1. Move in a way that feels good
Most days, running feels good to me me. On a day that I’m feeling super wiped, though, the gym might be a better bet because I can lift weights on less energy. Sometimes, just a walk feels amazing!
I think it’s so good to listen to your body and do what feels good that day, both physically and emotionally. Running just doesn’t feel good to some people, and that’s totally fine.
2. Focus on how I’ll feel after a workout
Sometimes, a workout feels awesome throughout the whole thing. Sometimes, it doesn’t. But I almost always feel accomplished and exhausted-in-a-good-way afterward, and nothing beats the endorphin rush from a great workout.
If nothing else, it’s a 45-minute (or an hour, or 30 minutes…depends on the day!) block of time that’s just for me and maybe a workout buddy where I’m not doing homework, sitting in class, working, or answering emails. I’m doing something for ME that feels good and that’s really good for me!
3. Figure out what coping mechanisms actually make me feel better and do those!
We all have different coping mechanisms we try during stressful times, some of which are healthy and some of which are not. I’ve tried the face-stuffing mechanism before and realized it didn’t actually make me feel better– it made me feel worse! I want to associate delicious food with happy times, not sad ones.
I think our natural coping mechanism are often easy ones that don’t require much effort (i.e. eating an entire bag of tortilla chips), but those generally don’t actually make us feel better.
I’ve actively worked to develop healthy coping mechanisms that do make me feel better, like taking a kickboxing class or meeting up with a friend for a walk. Sometimes, just getting off campus or away from a source of stress for a couple of hours does wonders!
It’s finals week now, and even though I’m more tired than usual, I always feel so much more energized and ready to tackle studying after I work out.
4. Push through discomfort…sometimes
The stomach flu that I had a few weeks ago? There’s no way I was dragging myself to the gym when I hadn’t kept food down for 24 hours. But sniffles? I’ll be outside running. Period cramps? Most likely, I’ll be running or hitting the gym.
When I’m feeling physically meh, one of the best things I can do for myself is go work out! If I don’t feel like it, I always tell myself to just start a workout and that I can stop anytime, and 99.8% of the time, I finish that workout because I feel better once I start and I feel soo much better afterward.
To sum this whole post up, I try to generally do the things that make me feel good, both health and fitness-wise. Like staying active and eating mostly healthy food, along with some treats, too. 🙂
So tell me…
How do you stay motivated with fitness? Anything to add?
What are your favorite healthy coping mechanisms?