Tips for Making Exercise More Fun

In the last two years, I’ve lost 45 pounds. That’s definitely enough for other people to notice, sometimes even resulting in people not recognizing me at first if more than a year has passed since we saw each other. A question I’m often asked after people compliment my diminished figure is, “How did you do it?”

I wish I could say I followed a magic formula, and I sometimes think people are hoping I’ll answer with, “I tried a miracle diet that had me eating six brownies a day and I still lost weight!” but the truth is I simply ate less and worked out more.

But this isn’t a post about how to lose weight. Like I said, we all know what it takes. Expend more calories than you put into your body. Easy.

We all know it’s NOT easy, though. It’s not easy to take that first step into a gym when you haven’t exercised in years. It’s not easy to find time to work out when you have children and the only thing you want to do when they go to bed is climb onto your couch, pour a glass of wine, and watch Modern Family. It’s not easy to look at the scale and realize you have so far to go to reach your ultimate goal.

Trust me, I understand. Last night I didn’t get my kids to bed until almost 9 pm.  I sat down at my computer and sighed in the quiet. Logged onto Facebook. Checked out Twitter. Wanted to head straight to bed. But I did it – 28 minutes of jogging/walking. And then I headed straight to bed.

The first step in the hardest. Once I’m working out I feel energized, and once the workout is over I feel satisfied and calmer. It’s just getting TO the exercise that’s hard for me, and I suspect for others.

So what do I do to stay motivated, and keep exercise a goal for most days of the week?

1. Buy pretty exercise clothes. I like to shop, and it’s nice to wear new things. Sometimes a $12 shirt from the fitness-clothing section of Target can be enough to inspire you to get out and go for a walk. Because when you look at that shirt in your drawer, you know you bought it for fitness. You don’t need to spend a fortune, but I do recommend that if you’re going to be running or jogging, head to a specialty running store where they can analyze your old shoes’ wear patterns and your stride (not sure if that’s the correct term, I’m no running expert, that’s for sure) and really help you get a good, comfortable pair. I currently run in Asics, one of two pairs the woman at my store recommended for me.

2. Go with a friend. I recently signed our family up at a local gym, and the same day I joined a friend of mine did, too. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to go with her as often as I’d like, but seeing her post on Facebook that she’s there taking a class motivates me to either head to the gym later or get on my treadmill, too. Even taking a walk around the neighborhood can be more enjoyable if you have someone else by your side for conversation.

3. Distract yourself. Some people love to run in the quiet. I’m not one of those people. I tried TV shows at the gym, but I need fast-paced music to keep my feet moving and keep me from thinking about how long I have to go before I can quit jogging already. It’s different for everyone, but most people I know who jog for fun tell me they listen to music, as well. Find what moves you (ha ha) and bring it with you to make the time go faster. Some of my recent adds to my playlist were Turn Me On by David Guetta and We Found Love by Rihanna, but I’m realizing I haven’t added anything new since January. Time to visit iTunes! See, another opportunity to shop. If you want my entire playlist e-mailed to you, contact me at and I’ll send it to you for some ideas. Edited – after getting many requests, I added a post with my playlist!

Another way I’ve distracted myself is by downloading a virtual landscape app for my iPad. I know, you’re thinking that sounds completely unnecessary, but let me show you the view from my treadmill.

Yes, that’s the underside of the stairs that lead to our basement. Hardly inspiring. I could watch something on my Netflix app, but I prefer music. A few months ago I wondered if anyone had come up with an app that simulated running in better locations for people stuck on treadmills and turns out some people had.

The first one I downloaded was free and is called Treadmill VR. The bonus is that it’s free. But the video work is shaky and transitions are jagged. In one landscape, there would periodically and inexplicably be bright flashes of white light. I don’t exactly want to feel like I’m living through a nuclear event while jogging, so that was a major turn-off for me.

I then turned to one called Virtual Active. The reviews were good but while the app itself is free, buying scenes for it is $7.99 each. And despite liking to shop I thought that was a little expensive. But I really, really hate staring at the underside of my stairs, so I thought I’d try it out. They offer scenes from places like Northern Italy, the Swiss Alps and the Rockies. In the end I chose Los Angeles because it’s one place I’d actually visited and it appeared they had a beach segment, which appealed to me since I’m stuck in the middle of the country with no ocean near me at all.

The camera work in this app is much more professional. Smooth and scene transitions are not jarring. I worried I’d feel like I needed to jump over obstacles in my way (in some scenes the unseen videographer goes over curbs or rocks) but I haven’t fallen off my treadmill yet. Combined with my pumpin’ music, I found this app really did make my jogs more enjoyable, and the time went faster. My one little tiny pet peeve about the app is that in the previews it looks like you get several different scenes to choose from. But in reality any time you choose your workout length, the app runs through the same approximately 10-minute segements over and over. So I thought I could have an entire workout on the beach, but the beach part lasts just that 10 minutes or so and then is followed by a scene on the sidewalks in Hollywood. So that was a little disappointing but I still think it was worth the $7.99, and I may buy another city soon for some variety.

Here are some screen shots from my iPad:

4. Think of it as alone time. If you’re a parent like me, time to yourself is probably at a premium. I do often have to work out when my kids are home with me (DVDs or videos on Netlfix) and I often incorporate walks with the jogging stroller into our day when the weather is nice. But what I really love is when I get 30-45 minutes to myself to unwind by exercising. My gym has free childcare, which is a large part of why I joined that particular gym over others that had bigger facilities. I’m taking my kids there this afternoon, in fact. I feel like I’m setting a good, healthy example for my children, they get to play with other kids, which they love, and I get to zone out on the elliptical trainer for almost an hour without anyone asking me for a snack or tattling. Heavenly. When you focus on the bonuses of working out like this, it’s easier to want to get going.

So those are some of my tips for getting off the office chair and to the gym or the horrid basement treadmill. What do you do to stay motivated? What are some songs you love to hear when you work out?

Note: This post is not sponsored in any way by any one, I simply wanted to share products or things that help me get moving!

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  1. Thanks for the tips, and equally , great job on the weight loss ; I know it wasn’t a duck walk. Great post and I look forward to sharing more with you:)

  2. Great post! Buying new workout gear or referring to a picture of your younger years can help you overcome weight loss obstacles.Thanks for the tips.


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