How I Trick Myself Into Working Out 5 Days a Week, at Home

Photo by Tirachard Kumtanom, Pexels

Some of you are lifelong athletes and LOVE to exercise. Yay for you, and we’re not jealous at all. You’re a mammoth minority though — 80% of American adults don’t get the recommended amount of exercise.

Because we hate it. It’s not fun, it hurts, and we look ridiculous doing it.

Two and half hours a week of physical activity is the recommended amount, according to all the experts. That’s just 30 minutes a day, five days a week. So why aren’t more people active, especially with all the information out there that is in our faces - daily, hourly - telling us to get moving?

Anyone who has been sedentary for a while knows it’s hard to get started. If I had a dime for all the times I’ve said “I’ll start exercising tomorrow” as I devilishly dive into a box of pizza, I could have afforded a tummy tuck 10 years ago. Exercise is viewed as not fun (see above.) Time, money, weather, self-consciousness (see above) boredom and fatigue are reasons often cited for not exercising.

That’s a lot of excuses. Might as well pop open a beer and plop down in front of the TV.

If you’ve read this far you must want exercise be a part of your weekly routine. We all know we need to. So let’s do it.

Here’s how I trick myself into working out 5 days a week — and sometimes 6! Some may sound stupid, but they work.

  1. I remind myself that small bouts of exercise throughout the day, 10–15 minutes at a time, will add up to 30

On the days I don’t have time for a 30 minute workout I will do jumping jacks, run in place, and mime jumping rope (you really don’t need a rope, plus it might trip you up, not saying that happens to me or anything) for just a couple of minutes at a time in the morning in between tasks of getting ready for the day. Later in the day I walk for 25 minutes with our dogs, who are unruly and always overexcited at the prospect of an outing, so these walks are never leisurely. Split your workout into small segments and you’ll almost forget it’s called a WORKout.

2. I work out in front of a fan

On the days I do abs, legs, arms or yoga, I’m directly in front of a fan. I’m not talking about the ladylike oscillating kind. I have an almost-blows-me-off-my-yoga-matt kind of fan. Keeps me cool, and my long hair blowing around makes me feel like an Instagram fitness model. I recommend an industrial strength Maxx Air High Velocity.

3. I visualize myself in my favorite dress that used to be tight

This sounds obvious, but visualizing that certain dress that now fits, after how icky it felt when I could barely zip it, is so uplifting. During the toughest parts of my workouts (mountain climbers, squat jumps) I picture, and repeat in my mind “Me in that dress… good hair day… me in that dress… good hair day…” (I warned you: kind of stupid, but it works.) If your favorite outfit is still tight, just picture yourself on the day it will zip easily and how good that will feel. It will happen.

4. My FitBit is a permanent part of my wardrobe

I can’t even describe how amazing this tool is. You might think it’s expensive, but the FitBit Flex 2 is $59.95 and the investment is absolutely worth it. The FitBit tracks some of your activity and logs it, which is so cool (I do have to log in a weight lifting session though) and practically pats you on the back and whoops and hollers when you achieve goals. There are so many features — water intake, how you sleep, food log, steps per hour — and it’s not hard to learn (even if you are over 50!). I could keep you here for an hour telling you how much you need a FitBit and how much easier it will be to sustain an active lifestyle, but just do a little research for yourself, and buy one. You will thank me.

5. At least one day is a fun day

I choose something I love so it doesn’t seem like work. A long walk on the beach with my husband (we live in Florida, near the beach — it’s your turn to be not jealous.) Some days we take our kayaks out on the Intracoastal Waterway. I occasionally pop into a yoga class — yes, that’s not at home, but I follow the local yoga studios on social media and keep an eye out for discounts and specials. Choose what makes you happy, whether it’s karaoke spin class, speed skating, or naked yoga (that is a thing!)

6. I choose a day for each body part

(Haha, that sounds like “Thursday is elbows day”!) If Monday is abs day, then Tuesday might be yoga and light-weight arms day, Wednesday legs day, Thursday heavy-weight arms day. That way I don’t exhaust myself and I don’t get bored. I don’t love it, but it’s necessary for me to feel good. Once you start feeling good, you won’t want to go back to feeling slow and thick and mad at yourself. Trust me.

7. I reward myself

This is another obvious tip that you hear all the time. Get your nails done! Buy a new sports bra! Do those things if they make you happy. When your workout is over you are so glad, and you do deserve a reward. If my workout is in the afternoon, mine is a glass of wine. Just being honest.

If you’re thinking, “Okay, yeah, these are some cool ideas. I’ll start exercising tomorrow,” consider this:

Movement is movement. Count gardening, scrubbing the bathtub, and chasing your kids around as physical activity.

A brisk walk 1–2.5 hours a week lowers your risk of death by 25%.

Exercise increases production of cells in your brain. And with that beer you popped open, you’re going to need it.

Do you trick yourself too? I’d love to hear how, comment below!