Guaranteed—everyone, no matter who they are, experiences not wanting to work out. From fitness models to powerlifters to couch potatoes, we all know what it feels like to not be in the mood to exercise. Then, the guilt, whether the reason is health-related or goal-related, makes things just that much worse. We waffle with giving ourselves permission to take a day off, then feel like slugs for not doing what we know we should. Active rest has its place in any fitness regimen, but it’s far different from not working out simply because you’ve grown bored or outright hate doing it. Often, the times you don’t feel like working out are exactly the times when you might need it most. When you can’t get on board with the Nike slogan, here are some hacks to get over the hump.
1–Don’t Force It
There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all exercise plan. People have different goals, different mentalities, and different abilities and limits. Lifehacker Dick Talens suggests you pick an exercise you’ll actually enjoy. If you love to run, do that. If you have fun doing aerobics, sign up for a class. If you’re just getting started, try walking in addition to an assortment of other solo activities and classes to see which activities you truly enjoy. Then, build your fitness regimen around them instead of trying to force yourself to participate in the latest fitness craze. If you like it, you’ll be more likely to do it on a regular basis instead of resisting and looking for excuses not to work out.
2–Set the Mood
Health.com recommends using music to condition yourself to workout, even when you’re not in the mood. Create a playlist of energizing, upbeat music and listen to it when you exercise. Whenever you get a case of the I-don’t-want-to’s, suit up in your workout clothes and pop your earbuds in. The combination of being dressed for the task and hearing the music will get you in the mood to sweat.
3–Incentivize Your Exercise
Whenever you feel like skipping a workout for no good reason, pick a reward that will entice you to get through exercising. It could be a whole wheat bagel and a light schmear, a non-fat latté from your favorite coffee shop, or that new pair of yoga pants you’ve had your eye on. Of course, incentivizing every workout can get a little spendy, but it’s an effective tactic for those days you just don’t feel like it.
If you don’t feel like working out because of fatigue or lack of energy, you need to fuel up before exerting yourself. Have a snack to replenish your energy supply. Excellent pre-workout goodies include a protein shake, a hard-boiled egg and half a bagel, a pear and a tablespoon of nut butter for dipping, a handful of trail mix, or a yogurt topped with granola. About 30 minutes after your snack, you might be surprised to find that you actually do feel like working out. Also, remember to drink plenty of water during the day as well as during exercise. Dehydration can be another factor that makes you feel sluggish.
5–Change It Up
Even if you’ve found an exercise plan you love, there are times when boredom kicks in and threatens to undo all the progress you’ve made. A great solution that you can implement immediately is to change up your routine. Do something different, like adding in an extra resistance training day at home or in the gym, or trying a kickboxing class. Heck, you can even check out some exercise DVDs from the library or find some on YouTube. If you don’t end up liking something, fine. At least you worked out when you didn’t feel like it. On the other hand, you might end up discovering your new favorite workout.
6–Phone a Friend
It’s a whole lot easier to do something you don’t want to if you have some support. When you feel a cop-out coming on, make plans with a workout buddy to exercise. Being accountable to someone else will ensure you show up. Plus, you’ll push each other to make it time well-spent. This is an exceptionally good tip for those who typically work out alone. Adding a partner to your exercise element is another way to change things up and make your workout more interesting.
7–Let the Dogs Out
When no humans on your contact list have time in their schedule for a workout, get some help from your true best friend. Playing with your dog is great exercise, especially if you take him for a walk or run. Prevention advises that even a game of tag or fetch can provide an effective workout. Don’t have a dog of your own? Borrow one or, better yet, talk to your local animal shelter about volunteering to walk shelter dogs.