Around my junior year of high school, I started to take working out serious. Beyond the required basketball team lifts and conditioning, I did abs and P90X in the basement of my parents’ house.
The reason I mention the abs and P90X workouts is because it was the first time I choose to legitimately exercise as a personal decision, without the pressure of coaches, trainers, or a team. It took an initial small leap of faith to get past that mental barrier, but then it felt awesome as I developed this positive habit of choosing to exercise.
This little experiment of choosing to workout nearly six years ago led to where I am now, in the best physical shape of my life. While some of my friends’ bodies got sloppier in college, my body only improved over time. These days I’m working out around five times a week, because I’m in a rhythm and I also have a workout partner (thanks Bobby).
Working out felt great back then, and the feeling of completing a lift feels just as sweet today.
Also, if you haven’t tried it already, I definitely recommend you look into P90X. Also, check out this guide to improving your mental health.
Want To Feel Happy?
If what I say next is the only thing you remember, then that’s good enough. Here it is…
Do you want to feel happier today? Start working out.
Do you want to feel better tomorrow? Go work out tomorrow, and so on.
Are you stressed? Are you lethargic? Is something mentally off? One last time: Go exercise.
There are other reasons to consistently work out—like practicing discipline, improving your confidence, looking more attractive, and staying healthy for your loved ones—but I believe that being happier probably tops most people’s list.
When you work out, chemicals and hormones get released in the brain that instantly make you happier. I’m talking right away, and the endorphins last for an extended time. It’s like taking feel-good drugs, but these drugs are legal and positive for you.
So, I encourage you to start working out, or if you already do then work out more. If you don’t feel good after doing it, and think your life was better with less exercise, then feel free to stop and go back to your old ways. But, I bet if you start working out regularly, you will enjoy it so much that you won’t go back.
If you’re saying, “This is what I want. But, how do I start working out?” Then keep reading below.
How To Start Working Out
I’m convinced that working out requires more mental decisions than physical ones. Where the mind goes, the body follows.
So, it’s best to first analyze where you’re at on the exercise scale. Reflect on how many times you workout a week, a month, or a year—if it’s been that long. Once you have a mental framework, then the goal is to use positive momentum to slowly improve the amount you exercise.
For example, say you work out once a week. Next week, make the goal to exercise two times in those seven days. When you accomplish your goal of exercising twice in a week, the positive momentum and confidence will carry over. Then, you can set the pace at working out three times a week. Continue this trend as much as you want, but with caution.
It’s dangerous to set extremely high expectations in the beginning, such as exercising six days a week. Because then when you skip a gym day, you’ll get discouraged and possibly fall back to your old habit of not going at all. Then you face the hardest part of exercising, again.
And the hardest part of exercising is simply starting. So, get some small wins under your belt to gain a rhythm. Then it will become second nature to exercise. Plus, I bet the more you workout, the better you will feel and more you will want to continue this healthy activity.
Quick Tips To Start Working Out
1. Find a partner: A good accountability partner will significantly increase your gym visits and performance, I guarantee it. On the days when you don’t want to go, the pressure to not let your partner down will make you exercise. Or you will work out harder knowing your partner is watching and you don’t want them to see you quit on the last reps. And you’re more likely to try different exercises without the fear of looking dumb when you have a partner who will also do it.
2. Body comparison is the enemy: When you compare your body to others, there is always going to be someone “better” than you. Maybe this person is bigger, smaller, more muscular, cut, taller, or whatever else it is.
However, the problem with comparison is it causes you to feel bad about yourself and lose motivation, especially when you start working out.
Guys, don’t be intimidated by the body builder doing 100-pound curls. This guy probably has at least a decade of lifting experience over you, so you’re not going to be at his level (and odds are you don’t want to be).
Girls, don’t compare yourself to the crazy athletic girl lapping you around the track. She also probably has years of experience over you.
The point is to get a little better over time. So instead of comparing yourself to others, work out consistently for a month and then use comparison against yourself to see your improvement.
3. Allow yourself room to fail: The phrase “two steps forward, one step back” is usually a reality when it comes to exercising. However, after the one step back, you’re still making progress and better off than before you started.
To stay committed, set your goal for progress and not perfection. Plus, there’s always tomorrow to pick yourself up after a day of weak willpower. We all have those days.
4. Change your perspective of working out: Many people get tangled in the idea that exercising means going to the gym and spending at least 60 minutes there. While that’s one way to do the trick, there are plenty of other options.
If you’re feeling sluggish and have to study in 30 minutes, run around campus for 20 minutes to wake up. Or go play 5-on-5 basketball if you don’t want to do cardio on the treadmill. Be flexible in what you consider exercise to increase your chances of being active.
5. Remember your “why” to exercise: One mental reminder of why you set out to exercise more in the first place can push you over the top to start working out that day. When you remember your “why” for working out (again your “why” could be anything from feeling happier, looking sexier, being healthier, or decreasing stress, etc.), you will become motivated.
6. Eat healthy when you’re out of the gym: If you don’t know already, working out and eating healthy go together. If you do one well, then you will be encouraged to also do well in the other. For example, eating the nutritious foods listed in this guide Easy Healthy Meals For College Students will give you the energy and encouragement you need to hit the gym each day.
Soon you will be unstoppable when you eat healthy and work out regularly. There will be no chance you get fat in college.
Readers, how often do you exercise a week? Do you want to start working out to feel happy, but you struggle to follow through? Why do you think that is?