I am 21 weeks pregnant and have been working out consistently (6-7 days/ week) through this pregnancy. I feel 1000x better for it, but trust me, there are many days when I have to dig DEEP to get it done. Here are some of my tricks to make it happen:
1. Commit to 12 Minutes
On days when I really want to skip, I make a deal with myself that I will do 12 minutes (of my 30-minute workout). 12 minutes always sounds do-able to me. Once I “push play” I usually finish the whole workout. But there have been a few days when I’ve stopped after 12 minutes!
2. Make it About Endorphins
Endorphins are a gift in the here and now. Instead of making exercise about some long-term health goal or a duty or obligation, I’m in it for the endorphins. Exercise is my mood-changer. When all I want is to park myself on the couch and watch Mindy Project, I remind myself that there’s instant gratification, rather than an abstract long-term goal of “staying healthy.”
3. Do it for the Baby
In my case, I have the gestational diabetes test coming up in a few weeks, and I know that exercise is great for regulating blood sugar levels. Exercise during pregnancy is also good for the baby’s brain and heart. Pretty amazing and motivating stuff.
4. Psyche Yourself up Every Day
I love this article about exercise motivation, where the author who is a fitness trainer says “you literally have to psyche yourself up every day.” It is so true. But every day that I psyche myself up, that muscle of being a person who does daily workouts gets stronger.
5. Do it to “Turn On” My Brain
I can literally feel my brain “wake up” after exercise, which is a big motivator to work out in the morning. I feel 10x more productive and sharp at work during the day if I’ve done some morning exercise. This article shares more about how your brain gets activated after just a 20 minute walk.
6. Do it with a Partner
That said, I don’t always work out in the morning. When I exercise in the evening, I have my husband around to provide extra momentum and motivation, which really helps. The evening routine is that we put the baby to bed around 6:30, workout, then eat dinner while watching Game of Thrones. Since we’re both looking forward to dinner/ Game of Thrones, we want to knock out the workout quickly. That momentum and looking forward to what’s next on the agenda helps a ton, rather than sitting around and stalling.
7. Do it for the Dopamine
Dopamine is a ‘happy chemical’ in the brain (like serotonin or oxytocin). It’s the motivation chemical – it LOVES achievement, checking off items on the checklist. So every time I exercise, I get a boost of dopamine, which is then compounded in a big way, because I’m part of a fitness accountability group. So every time I finish my workout I pop onto our group on Facebook and check in with the group to tell them I’m “DONE!” Huge surge of dopamine follows. It’s one of those great healthy addictions. Also, since I do fitness programs that are either 21 or 30 days, I also have that big sense of accomplishment at the end of a program. More on dopamine, goal-setting and achievement here.
8. Do it for my Daughter
I LOVE for Leela to see me exercising, pushing myself, doing hard things. I love that this will be part of her consciousness from an early age, and that I’m sending the message that exercise is fun and as essential a part of the day as brushing your teeth. (Confession: I’m more consistent about exercise than brushing her teeth!) I also love that I’m demonstarting that exercise isn’t about self-loathing, crash diets or weight loss – but that it’s about strength, healthy mind-body and productivity. She’s a great workout buddy and shocks me when she picks up a 3-pound weight!
9. Never Miss a Monday
This mantra has helped me too! I never miss a Monday and that gets the week started off right!
That’s all I’ve got! A year ago when I started my journey of “consistent” exercise, I was probably working out 3-4 times a week. So don’t feel that you have to get there overnight! Working with a coach and an accountability group was HUGELY helpful for me. Because I benefited from it so much, I am now running my own health/fitness accountability groups every month. If you would like to join us, give me a shout and I’d be happy to set you up with a personalized program to get you started.
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