How to Make Exercise Enjoyable
If your only fitness goal is to drop 20 pounds, you may be less likely to stick with your workout routine. "Losing weight takes time and it's easy to get frustrated if all you have to look forward to is that one outcome," says Brooke Marrone, a personal trainer in New York City. But when you celebrate short-term challenges, like completing 10 push-ups or adding a half-mile to your walk, you'll be more inspired to stay on track. Log your progress in an exercise journal: You'll be able to see how far you've come in your fitness plan, and that ego boost can fire up your determination to keep moving.
It worked for me! "I'm trying to lose a few pounds for my upcoming wedding, but I didn't want to be one of those brides who vows to drop several dress sizes before the big day. That felt too intimidating, so I decided to set simpler goals instead. My first? Hitting the gym three times a week. Four months in, I've yet to miss a week and my clothes feel looser."
-- Sheila Warren, 34, San Francisco
There's no getting around it: Exercising can be an intense experience. Who doesn't love that satisfying, I-just-kicked-major-butt feeling that follows a great workout? And that happiness isn't fleeting. Research from the University of Vermont in Burlington revealed that the mood-boosting effects of exercise last for up to 12 hours. Working out can even help you love your looks, trouble spots and all. A study published in the Journal of Health Psychology found that the mere act of exercising can improve your body image, regardless of whether you lose weight or get fitter.
It worked for me! "Last spring my job and my personal life were busier than ever. I knew yoga was good for relaxation so I decided to take a class on the days I was feeling really frazzled. By the end of each session I felt calmer and less overwhelmed. Now just the thought of that blissed-out feeling motivates me to go to yoga class, even when I feel too tired to get off the couch."
-- Danielle King, 32, Brooklyn, New York