Want to lose weight? Diet and exercise! Want to fit into your skinny jeans? Eat right and workout! Want to tighten and tone your whole body? Go to the gym! It's a simple enough question with a simple enough solution, right?
Yeah, not at all. Not even almost.
It's All Overwhelming
Most of us have heard those words from doctors, friends, trainers, TV commercials, magazine advertisements, maybe even this here website, but just what exactly does that mean? The gym alone is filled with dozens upon dozens of fitness options. Squat racks, free weights, Nautilus-type weight machines, ellipticals, treadmills, TRX machines, swimming pools, StairMasters, it can be overwhelming!
"Ok," you think, "maybe I'll just start with a class." Good first step! Now, do you want to take BodyPump, Kick Boxing, Zumba, Yoga, Jazzercise, Spin class, Boot Camp, or Aqua-robics? And do you want a level 1, 2 or 3 class? Sometimes, just trying to take inventory of your fitness options and trying to figure out where on earth you are supposed to start feels like a workout by itself.
Two Things to Remember
Take a deep breath, step back and relax for a minute. Finding what is going to keep you fit is a trial-and-error process and will take some time. Remember this:
Everyone is different. Just because you have a coworker who swears that Zumba is the only way she was able to successfully lose weight does not mean that Zumba is the right answer for you.
If you hate running, don't run. Sure, running is an incredible form of exercise. It's challenging, free and yields a high-calorie burn. But if it makes you miserable, you won't enjoy it, you won't look forward to your workouts and your quest to incorporate an exercise routine in your lifestyle will quickly fizzle and fail. This goes for all fitness activities. The key to making fitness work for you, is finding your very own personal type of fitness.
Make it Your Own
For some, that's a weekly yoga or Pilates classes, for others it's a daily 5k run in the neighborhood park. Some people swear by weightlifting and weightlifting alone, while others happily spend a daily hour on the elliptical. For some, 30 to 40 minutes a day of circuit training DVDs in the comfort of their living room is the perfect answer. Others choose to find their fitness in hiking, rock climbing, jogging, swimming in oceans, rivers or lakes, paddle-boarding, rowing, aerial yoga, pole dancing, CrossFit...the options are endless, and no form of fitness is inherently "better" than the others. The only bad fitness choice is not making a choice at all.
Don't Be Discouraged
This is a process. You may try six or seven different things before you find something that works for you. You may do one thing for three or four months and decide that you need a change. This is all perfectly, wonderfully OK. Keep learning, keep pushing yourself and keep yourself interested. Working out and exercising should not be something that you approach with the same mentality as someone who knows they are about to endure long and painful torture.
If you hate what you're doing, then simply don't do it.
Find something you love...or at least, find something you don't hate, and stick with it until it is something you love. Once you've found that routine, that pattern, that exercise, whatever it may be, suddenly working out won't be something you struggle to fit into your life. It will simply become a part of your life, just like making your bed, getting dressed in the morning, and brushing your teeth before bed. And the next time you hear someone casually toss out the phrase "...just diet and exercise!" you'll be surprised to realize that, with a little dedication and a little patience, fitness truly can be a simple solution.
Dani Russell is a freelance health and fitness lifestyle writer living in Honolulu, Hawaii. She is currently working to complete a Master's Degree in Counseling Psychology and is a practicing student therapist. In her free time she can be found playing in the ocean, hiking and weightlifting. You can keep up with her daily quest to balance multiple jobs, fitness and graduate school via her tumblr.