Health & FitnessLife & Style

Not in the mood: How to inspire yourself to exercise

Trust me, I know the feeling! Every once in a while (read: every other day) I, too, get tired of running to the gym or the aerobic studio after finishing work. I would just like to order myself a fast meal from the nearest junk food joint and tune in to watch "Dexter" or "CSI" on TV and then fall asleep on the sofa. Who cares about an extra kilo or ten when you have a chance to solve the mysterious murder of an unknown woman at a Miami bar?

But I do care, and despite the amazing techniques used by CSI agents, I still feel guilty when I skip a fitness class from my three-a-week schedule. That’s why I created a system to ensure that I don't miss my gym appointments and maintain a healthy (or, healthier) lifestyle.

When your body tells you what it needs, you have to listen, but sometimes the human body is a little shortsighted. Imagine your body is a child; they want to eat chocolate and nothing but chocolate for the next millennium. Every time they feel the beautiful taste of chocolate, they just can’t help but ask for more. But would you give them a whole box of chocolate bars, even though they ask for it? Sometimes, you have to say "no," to your child and to your body.

Here is my procedure for saying "no," which has proven to be successful through the years:

Step One: Don’t give yourself the time.

Plan your day in a way that won’t give you time to relax between your working hours and your workout routine. Give yourself a maximum of one hour between the time you arrive at your house after work and when you leave your house to go to the gym.

When you give your body enough time to rest, your mood towards activity will flip. Instead of the energized person you were through the day of work, you are back home, ten steps from the bed and two from the sofa. You will slowly but surely start losing interest in leaving the house. Don't give yourself that option.

Step Two: Dress the part.

When you come back from work and want to take off your suit, do not–I repeat: Do not–put on your comfy home clothes. You should change directly out of your work clothes into your workout outfit. Putting on your pajamas is basically sending your body the happiest message it receives all day: Time to sleep. Your muscles start to relax, your brain starts to slow down, and your mood starts to mellow. Putting on your workout outfit sends the opposite message: Time to exercise. Your muscles tense, your brain becomes alert, and you suddenly feel like listening to "Eye of the Tiger."

Step Three: Speaking of music …

Music plays a huge part in your mood. On your way home from work you should listen to music on your music player or car radio. Notice that music with soft beats (a ballad for example) can put you in a different mood than a song with a fast beat. So, stop yourself from listening to Celine Dion, Susan Boyle, or Maria Carey in the three or four hours prior to your fitness class, switching to to your preferred fast-beat jam. I suggest Survivor’s "Eye of the Tiger" for the gentlemen readers and Beyonce’s "Single Ladies" for the ladies.

Lyrics will influence your mood as well. Some songs are uppers–about being stronger, wiser, better, fitter–and are better to listen to before your workout. You should not listen to downers: songs about sorrows, lost loves, and being helpless without the others.

Step Four: Guilt yourself.

Yes, my friend, I won’t lie to you. You will get fatter if you do not maintain a healthy lifestyle, watching what you eat, and exercising on regular basis. You’ll get so fat you will notice that your fat jeans are now your slim ones. You’ll get so fat people won’t be able to hug you. You might become too fat to play with your kids, to sit comfortably on a sofa without breaking it, to pick up your wallet if it falls to the floor. Now, move your lazy hips and go to the gym. Go, my friend. You go! No. I mean it: You. Go. Now. I said, GO!

Step Five: Caffeine.

I’ll be honest with you. I’m not the biggest fan of caffeine, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. When you are down to your last resort and you just can’t push yourself to go to the gym, a cup of coffee or a diet soda can help generate a good mood and extra energy to start your workout. It helps in two different ways. Caffeine provides energy to jump start your workout, then the energy your body generates by itself (due to the hormones produced by the body during working out) will do the rest and help you finish. Caffeine also jump starts your metabolism, helping you burn an extra amount of calories during your workout.

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