You know those days … you didn’t get enough sleep, you missed your bus, you had one too many annoying meetings, you’re tired and you’re stressed. But you know that a workout – any workout – will do you good and just maybe give you the mental and physical boost you desperately need. But you could also easily and happily go home and plop on the couch with a glass of wine. For those times when even tying your sneaker feels like a gargantuan effort, here are a few hacks to trick yourself into having a productive workout:
1) Pick an activity that counteracts your (likely bad) mood. Feeling angry and irritable? Smooth out the edges with a soothing yoga or graceful barre class. Find yourself beaten down and insecure? Sign up for a more intense cycling class to pump yourself up and feel badass again. The trick is to pick the workout that will not only give you the physical activity you need (within reason for your energy level), but that will boost your low mental state as well. There are so many options these days, and if you subscribe to a fitness membership like ClassPass or FitMob, then you can take your pick from lots of options!
2) Motivate with music. I’m not a big runner – especially on the treadmill. When it’s my only workout option, I tend to get through it by watching my favorite HBO or Netflix series on my iPad. But this is a terrible idea when I’m dragging. For the times when every step feels difficult, you can’t beat the motivating power of seriously high energy music (this isn’t just my assertion – science says so!):
“Music distracts people from pain and fatigue, elevates mood, increases endurance, reduces perceived effort and may even promote metabolic efficiency. When listening to music, people run farther, bike longer and swim faster than usual—often without realizing it.” – Scientific American; March 20, 2013
Pick something with an up tempo (think dance or club music) and surprise yourself with how much more energy you’ll feel.
3) Compromise with half a workout. This is for dire situations … you know, like when you start bargaining with yourself that you’ll wake up early and do an AM and PM session tomorrow (riiiight). The idea is to give yourself a break without letting yourself off the hook. If you normally spend an hour and a half at the gym, tell yourself you’ll just log 30 minutes. If you normally do Soul Cycle on Tuesdays, maybe go for a light 20 minute jog instead. Not every day has to be a killer fitness day. Sometimes it’s more important to take a break and just move your body a little.
And if all else fails, if you’re positively miserable and in desperate need of simple restoration – give it to yourself. Go veg out on the couch, take a bubble bath or hang out with friends instead. Whatever helps you recover and recharge. Tomorrow’s another day, and if you guard against burn out, you’ll be back on your fitness track much faster.