It’s 2016, and you’ve made a commitment to yourself to eat healthier and exercise more. But it’s cold and dark outside. And you’re exhausted. The last thing on your mind after a long day of work is getting to the gym and pushing yourself to fit in a good workout. Sound familiar?
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I’ve got news for you: You’re not alone. As a spinning instructor and former gym bunny, I know from personal experience that everyone can use a little extra motivation sometimes. So here are some tips for what to do when you’re too tired to work out.
Read More: The No. 1 Reason Your Workout Isn't Working
1. Listen to the “Real” You
Your first reaction when the thought of working out enters your mind may be resistance. But take a moment to explore whether that resistance is just laziness in the moment or whether your body really does need a break. It could be that you feel a cold coming on or that you didn’t get enough sleep last night or that you’ve worked out every other day this week and really need the rest. Whatever your situation may be, some self-questioning can help you determine if you truly don’t have the energy to do even a brief, easy workout. If the answer is still no, skip to No. 8 below. But if you probably could still do something, then read on:
2. Take Baby Steps
Start with one goal and take one step at a time. Pack your workout bag, get dressed, tie your shoes, get in the car. Before you know it you’ll be at the gym or class. When you’re there, focus on one thing at a time. Warm up, then gradually let yourself get into the workout and take it from there. I often find that after I’ve taken these baby steps, without intending to do so, about halfway in I’ve regained my usual workout energy. And then after the workout I’ve got a second wind. (Yes, working out actually can give you energy!)
3. Take a Class
If you’re feeling tired, I wouldn’t recommend a DIY workout — unless you have a routine that you can just dive into. Take a class and let the instructor set the pace for you so you don’t have to think about it. All you have to do is follow the instructions and go with the music. If you have a good instructor, you’ll be too caught up in the action and fun to remember to be tired.
4. Mix It Up
With a little bit of planning, you can make your workout not just about exercising, but also about discovering new things. Try a new class, gym or activity every now and then and give your body and mind something new to do. Yes, it might be intimidating to try something new, but that’s what makes it exciting, right? Plus, studies show that workouts that challenge your body in new ways over time are the most beneficial.
5. Remember Your Three Tools
We all have three tools always available to us to fuel our workouts when we’re losing steam: our breath, the music and water. At any point in your workout (even if you’ve just started) you can tap into these three sources of energy. You’ll be amazed at what they can do for you.
My favorite workout to do when I’m too tired is Spinning. I start with my eyes closed (sometimes I really am that tired) and just start pedaling. If I forget everything else and just listen to the music, it’s often so moving that it motivates me to start increasing my speed or upping the resistance, and before I know it I’m breaking a sweat.
6. Break It Up
If you are feeling tired, you don’t have to force yourself to do a whole hourlong workout. If your schedule allows it, you can break it up. Studies show that a number of short workouts are just as effective as one longer workout. Try one 10- to 15-minute session in the morning and another after work.
7. Remember Your Goals
Sometimes when you’re tired you forget why you wanted to work out to begin with. Our inner critic and couch potato can be very loud. So when you’re tired, one thing that can help is to take a moment to remember your original intention for working out in the first place. Are you trying to gain energy in your daily life, build strength, lose weight? What are your overall health goals?
8. Try an Alternative
If you’ve really tuned in to yourself and answered the question of whether you’re really too tired with a resounding “yes,” then try alternative activities that will still allow you to get in some physical activity. Chores like sweeping, vacuuming and dusting can get the blood pumping, or just getting outside to take a walk can lift your mood and increase circulation. Certain types of yoga, such as restorative yoga, are designed to relax and reenergize. If you’re short on time and don’t want to venture out, try these heart-opening, energizing yoga poses at home.
Jennifer Wang is the founder and CEO of The Tasteful Pantry. Having lived with multiple food intolerances and tasted countless “free-from” snacks that taste like cardboard, Jennifer’s mission now is to share her love of wholesome food and healthy living through The Tasteful Pantry. When she’s not scouring the country looking for yummy snacks, Jennifer enjoys teaching Spinning and meditation. Connect with Jennifer and The Tasteful Pantry on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.