There are only two kinds of people in this world:
Type 1: Those who answer the phone with a slightly breathless “Hey, just got done with my workout.”
Type 2: People who hate them.
OK, that’s not quite true. Most of us are somewhere in between; the vast majority of us would like to be Type 1 folks, or at least know that we should be, at least on a semi-regular basis. Here’s what I know about myself, and I bet you recognize yourself here too: I understand, intellectually, the importance of being fit. I understand that it is likely to make me live longer. I understand that I could probably eat a little more than a sparrow and not gain weight if I exercise regularly.
Here’s what I also know about myself, and I bet it’s true for you too: When you exercise, you feel better. All.Day.Long. You’re more productive, more energized, more able to deal with what life throws your way.
Two years ago, a new gym opened its doors. This is a reputable chain, and the new facility was as gleamy as you’d expect. It wasn’t even that intimidating, because there were a lot of people there who looked like me – in other words, they were NOT:
- Insanely fit
- Insanely thin
- Insanely muscular
- Insanely judgmental
- Insanely young (which, at this point in my life, means “under 40”)
What they did appear to be, however, was determined and focused. “Yes!” I thought. “I want to be determined and focused too!” I mean, who doesn’t? Do you ever look in the mirror and think, “Boy, I wish I was less determined and less focused?” I didn’t think so.
How Do I Keep Going Back?
Here’s what worked (ish) for me: I signed up for personal training. Don’t freak out! Stay with me here. I am an appointment-driven person; if I have a specific appointment, I’m way more likely to show up. Also, I’m way more likely to keep that appointment if I’m paying for it. And what I’ve found is that “I’m paying for the gym every month, so I have to go” just isn’t sufficient. It’s too easy to hit the snooze button, get engrossed in something else, find a reason why “I’ll just get there tomorrow!” And then, before you know it, it’s the 29th of the month (unless it’s February and not a Leap Year) and you’ve gone, maybe, once. Or not at all.
Signing up for personal training made me much less likely to skip a session – the financial pain and internal shame was simply too great. Is it expensive? Kind of. But you know what’s more expensive? Not going to the gym at all.
Do Your Workout When It Works for You
So, what time of day works best? Really, who knows? Initially, I planned to be one of those absurdly productive people who went first thing in the morning. The result of this was, like, 75 mornings in a row of hitting the snooze button. Then I thought, since I’m more of a night owl, I’ll go in the early evening. This resulted in maybe 25 evenings in a row of missing the appointment.
Finally, I learned to just figure out what works best for me that week. Is there scientific evidence that keeping a consistent workout time makes you (a) healthier and/or (b) more likely to stick with a routine? Probably. But I’m ignoring it for now, and it’s working. This month, I only missed two out of eight sessions. Look, it was a low bar to begin with.
Also, I discovered the hidden secret, the very best part of getting to say “Hey, just got done with my workout.” It’s actually not saying that at all, but saying something completely different. You know what it is? It’s the ability to say, indignantly, “But I’m working out regularly and I’m STILL not losing weight!” Indignance is a very gratifying state. If you haven’t tried it, I highly recommend it.
I’m kidding, mostly. Get yourself to the gym, really. You won’t be sorry, and you might even end up a little thinner.
Of course, it goes without saying to check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program. That I can’t help you with. But the indignance part? I’m a certified expert. ⧉