Tips to Making Exercise More Enjoyable & Less of a Chore

Hank Ebeling & I are very excited that our “Summer Slim Bootcamp” gained enough popularlity to be issued on SHAPE.com in the article, 8 Fat-Blasting Gym Classes that Don’t Feel like Exercisehttp://www.shape.com/fitness/cardio/8-fat-blasting-classes-dont-feel-exercise?page=8.

In addition to these classes, here’s a few ways to make working out more enjoyable and less of a chore this new year…

Hit the gym with a friend.  This way you have someone who’s counting on you to be there.  If you have a bit of a competitive side to you, try timed circuits with your partner.  Compete with your workout buddy to see who can get the most reps out of each exercise in the circuit.  Here’s an example circuit you could use targeting lower body, upper body, & core:

4×1 min Reverse Lunges with Dumbells

4×1 min Medicine Ball Slams

4×1 min V-Ups

Update your workout playlist. Training for a half-marathon or just know that you need some real good music to get you through your next cardio workout? Set aside time and make a good workout playlist.  Preferably one that’s going to get you really pumped up and motivate you to push yourself harder than you have been lately.  Here’s a few songs from my favorite workout playlist:

Muse-Uprising

Phoenix-Listomania

Ellie Goulding-Lights

Kanye West-Monster

Walk the Moon-Anna Sun

Rhianna ft Calvin Harris-We Found Love

Two Door Cinema Club-I Can Talk

Kanye West-All Falls Down

Yeah Yeah Yeah’s-Head’s Will Roll

Set small goals.  And I’m talking small.  The more you have that feeling of accomplishment, the more that you will associate exercise as being a positive experience and will be more likely to continue.  It’s a mental game most of the time.  Mind over matter.

Chart your stats.  This can give you a visual of how you’re progressing, hopefully creating positive feedback for you. Examples could be a max push-up test or timed plank.

Buy yourself some new kicks & new workout attire. Let’s be honest, we’re all guilty (well, probably more so just us females) of purchasing clothes then coming home & immediately trying them on again once we get home as if they’re going to look any different from when we just tried them on in the dressing room at the store.  I’ll admit, I do it all the time.  Treat yourself to new Lululemon workout pants or new Nike’s & I’m sure you’ll be a little more excited to hit the gym in your new get-up.

Stretch following your workout.   Use these 10 minutes or so as time for you to relax, unwind, and not worry or think about the stresses on the day.  It’s good for your mental health.  : )

Follow these easy tips & you’ll be setting yourself up for success in 2012!

Science Behind Self-Control

It’s the holiday season & we all know that it’s getting very difficult resisting those cookies that seem to be at every work meeting or on the kitchen coutner at home… Why is this?

We have 2 independant systems of our brain working at all times: an emotional side & a rational side.   

A wonderful analogy used by University of Virgina psychologist Jonathan Haidt says that our emotional side can be compared to an elephant while our rational side is its rider.  Sitting atop the elephant, the rider has the reins & seems to be the leader but in fact, the rider’s control is precarious because the rider is so small relative to the elephant.  Therefore, in a situation where the rider and the elephant are in a tug-of-war, the rider will not win.  He simply gets exhausted.

To understand this a little better, check out this study:

A group of college students reported to a lab a bit hungry (they’d been asked not to eat for 3 hours beforehand).  On a table was a bowl of fresh baked chocolate chip cookies, and right next to the cookies…a bowl of radishes.  Half the participants were asked to eat two or three cookies, but no radishes.  The other half were asked to eat at least two or three radishes but no cookies.  Following this, all participants were presented with a series of brain puzzles (the researchers wanted to see how long the college students would persist in a difficult, frusterating task before they gave up).  The “untempted” students, who had not had to resist eating the cookies spent 19 minutes on the task making 34 well intentioned attempts to solve the problem.  The radish eaters gave up after only 8 minutes and had only 19 solution attempts. 

This study, lead by University of Florida social psychologist Roy Baumeister found that SELF CONTROL IS AN EXHAUSTIBLE RESOURCE.  Why did the radish eaters quit so easily? Well, they simply ran out of self control.  Compare it to doing bench presses at the gym.  The first one is easy when your muscles are fresh but with each repitition, your muscles get more & more exhausted until you can’t lift the bar anymore.  So whereas the radish eaters drained their self-control by resisting the cookies, the cookie-eaters had a fresh “rider” who was able to fight off the elephant for 19 minutes. 

This makes perfect sense as to why it’s so hard to resist the temptation of all those cookies and sweets that seem to always be around us during the holidays.  If we are able to avoid the sweets at work but go home to yet another tray of sugar cookies sitting on the kitchen counter, chances our by that point our “rider” is going to be exhausted and the “elephant” will win. 

Although it’s not always easy, try to do everything you can not to put yourself in these situations this holiday season so as to not wear your “rider” out. 

…And I promise, I’m not trying to tempt you with the picture.

Happy Holidays! : )