The Perfect Time
There is no perfect time to get back into shape. Not next Monday, not after the holidays, not after whatever stressful situation you’ve gotten yourself into resolves. Anytime is a good time. So why not today? You have to get your body and your mind on the same page. And guess which one goes at the top of the page. Your mind. Set some goals today. Even if you don’t start exercising today, write something down. Because where the mind goes, the body follows.
Get Your Mind Right
I once knew a beast of a man. He hit the gym every day and looked like he could bend a golf club around a tree. I asked him “what is the secret to staying with your exercise routine”? Do you know what he said? “Change into your workout clothes and go sit in your car”. His idea was that if you put on the outfit and make it to the car, you’re 2/3 of the way to working out.
So go shopping. Get yourself some sweet new workout clothes. Remember how excited we all were to show off our new school clothes on the first day of school? Do that. But with gym clothes. If you wear sweatpants and an old t-shirt, you’re giving yourself an easy out. Get name-brand stuff. The more you spend, the more invested you’ll be. Get yourself a quality pair of athletic shoes. If you don’t know which ones are good, google it. Even if you’re working out at home, look the part and you’ll feel the part.
“When you put on new fitness gear, you begin to get into character like an actor putting on a costume for a performance” says sports psychologist Dr. Jonathan Fader. Treat yourself. Not to dinner, to fashionable moisture-wicking, breathable, move-with-you, kick-butt new workout clothes.
The Perfect Fit
Loose or Tight?
First off, you have to feel comfortable both in clothing fit and in how you look. If you don’t feel comfortable wearing form-fitting clothes than wear something a little looser.
Also, make sure you’re wearing the right clothes for your activity. If you plan to run, bike, or do yoga, you don’t want to get tangled up in loose, dangly clothes. Get something fitted.
Wear supportive undergarments. For women, this means a quality sports bra. For men, compression shorts. Please don’t make me explain.
Now let’s talk material.
If you’re doing a low-impact, low-sweat workout, cotton is probably an ok place to start. It’s going to hold onto any sweat you do produce and weigh you down. Your shirt may be stuck to you and you’ll have to wait for it to dry if you’re going out afterward. At the very least, get something cute with a cool logo. Remember, look the part.
These materials include polyester, lycra, and spandex. They come in both fitted and loose fits. You’ll find blends labeled as COOLMAX or SUPPLEX. These wick the moisture off your body, keep you cool and dry quickly. If you’re going to be sweating, go synthetic. If you have to run to the bank or grocery store after your workout, you won’t look like a swamp monster.
Playing Dress Up
You’ll feel the part if you have a nice pair of compression leggings, a compression tank, and a supportive sports bra. Wear it in front of your significant other. It’s sexy, they’ll think so too. Even if you don’t feel sexy…YET.
Get some compression shorts or pants and a compression shirt. YOUR significant other will also think it’s sexy.
Obviously, in warm weather, you want the least amount of coverage without getting arrested or asked to leave the gym. Today's sports clothing is flattering and classy, you never know when you might get the call to pick up a sick kid from school.
In cold weather, you’ll want to dress in layers. A moisture-wicking base layer is essential. On top, you can try a long-sleeve shirt or hoodie but get something that you don’t need mom’s help to get off. Also, protect your hands, head, ears, and if necessary, your face. There are moisture-wicking gloves and hats that will keep the wet chill off.
No matter who you are or what you’re doing, don’t underestimate the power of moisture-wicking socks. Even light workouts can leave you with blisters if you wear your old white, cotton socks. Find some that are light, breathable, and moisture-wicking.
Whatever you do, don’t cheap out on shoes. Get a name brand with plenty of cushions and a good fit. You’re going to be on your feet. A lot. Remember, always buy a good pair of shoes and a good mattress, because if you’re not in one, you’re in the other.
More accessories you should think about
If you don’t have pockets, you’ll need a place for your keys, phone, and ID at the least. You can invest in a Velcro armband and put your house and car key on a small separate ring and tuck them inside.
“Some features to consider include a reflective patch (especially if you work out outside early in the morning or late at night) and a pocket for your keys, phone or ID” advises the co-owner of Compass Fitness, Tara Laferrara.
If you like to listen to music, get yourself a nice pair of Bluetooth headphones. Don’t we all NOT miss the days when you snagged your headphone cord on something and sent your Walkman flying one direction and your earlobes the other? Spend your money on a nice pair so you can drown out the Neanderthal grunts from your neighbors.
Don’t be the person that shows up at the gym with a bath towel. Don’t even use one if you work out at home. You can find nice, fast-drying workout towels for next to nothing. They’re small and they fit perfectly around your neck on your beaks.
The Right Tool For the Job
Get your own equipment for the activity you choose. Look like you know what you’re doing, even if you don’t.
If you’ve decided to take a yoga class, get your own yoga mat. Don’t use the ones they have there, they’re sweaty and gross and you deserve one in your favorite color. Yoga mats come in different thicknesses. Don’t buy a cheap thin one. Your knees and elbows will hurt if you don’t have enough padding. Then you’ll quit. Don’t quit because you didn’t spend the extra $10 for a nice mat. ¼” or 6 mm. You can thank me later.
Working out at home can be a great alternative when the weather’s bad or you’re just having a socially awkward day. Your workout can also travel with you on a work trip or vacation.
Resistance bands are great because they’re unsteady. I know unsteady is not typically a flattering term, but in this case, the uneven resistance works your stabilizing muscles. This will improve your balance, posture and strengthen your core. “Anyone, at any fitness level, can benefit from using resistance bands,” says Amy Marturana of Self magazine.
Resistance bands are also cheap and easy to find online and they come in a variety of resistance levels to fit your program.
You’ll pay a little more for free weights, but they come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and not surprisingly, weights. Dumbbells have stood the test of time and there’s a reason, they work. They also work on your stability as balance is required to counteract the lifting movement. They can take up a lot of space, so make sure you’ve got a closet or garage handy.
How about something different? A trampoline is fun, and you’ll be surprised how quickly you’ll break a sweat. There are some great workouts centered specifically around trampolines and others that incorporate them as a change of pace. Your tramp also stores easily behind the couch or under the bed.
Motivation Not Named Tony Robbins
You need something to keep you accountable to yourself. There’s a lot of ways to go, let’s look at a few:
A good digital scale not only keeps your weight, but it can also track your body fat percentage and BMI (body mass index). You need to get on it every day and take the good with the bad. It’s all about accountability.
This will track your steps throughout your day, not just when you’re working out. Set a daily goal and meet it. “Even a small increase in steps per day above being inactive can make a difference in health” says Wendy Bumgardner of verywellfit.com. Do a little more each day with 10,000 being classified as “active”.
A fitness tracker like Fitbit will help you track your workouts: calories burned, steps taken, and can even track your sleep quality. These things have gotten significantly smaller over the years with newer ones only being 2 inches long and half an inch thick. Easy to slip into your pocket or clip on your pants or bra strap.
A smartwatch is the crème-de-la-crème of trackers. It will do everything a step counter or fitness tracker does and it can also give you alerts about phone calls, text messages, and emails. It can alert you when you’ve been inactive too long and track your goals throughout the day. The fancier ones even allow you to take a phone call if your phone is in the car.
Bring it All Home
The moral of this story is to dress for success. If your clothes make you look unmotivated, you’ll feel unmotivated, and eventually, you’ll be unmotivated. Invest in yourself. If you look great and feel great, you’re more likely to succeed and to stick with it. Take some selfies, post them on social media. Don’t push yourself, pull yourself. And while you’re at it, pull your chin up to that bar a couple more times. You’ll look great doing it.