Get Fit: Staying Motivated So You Just Don’t Stop

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Hello fresh faces! Before we get started on this week’s topic, I wanted to address a concern that was expressed in last week’s comments. I’d said that my initial motivation for getting back to the gym last year was wearing a bikini in front of throngs of drunk lesbians, and one or two readers felt that in saying so, I was perpetuating those idiotic beauty standards we all despise so much. Even though I think most everyone understood my point and the underlying and overt message of Get Fit, I still wanted to get a few things on the record.

This column is in no way supposed to objectify women or try to make anyone fit into the societal and heteronormative ideals of beauty. In my first post, I did not, in any way, tell women they had to look a certain way — I didn’t say that anyone needed a thinner body or six-pack abs. I just said “look good,” which means different things to different people, and falls in line with our constant message of You Do You. And anyway, looking really good is actually just a side effect of feeling even better.

If anything, what I want to do is push people to gain muscle and endurance, to make them feel strong rather than runway model waifish. This is about reaching your own personal goals. It’s here to help us all get motivated to work out, feel better, and eat healthier. The beauty of fitness and health for me is one’s ability to set goals and work toward them. It’s finding your inner strength to do the things that you set your mind to, and living your life with integrity because you fucking did exactly what you said you would.

Plus, the stronger you are, the easier it’ll be to toss hot girls around. BAM!

This is meant to be a safe space for people who are hoping to get in shape for themselves. I understand that everyone has a different approach to fitness and health and I hope that I can cover as many different topics as possible. Please give this column time to unfold. Keep using the comment section to give your fellow straddlers tips and pointers, to ask questions, and to suggest topics that you want to know more about. I want us all to be allowed to be honest about our health goals without worrying about offending someone. Work under the assumption that we support you and your rights and the value system that Autostraddle has worked so hard to create. And now, on with the show!


So you’ve been working out for the past few days and it’s going really well!

HEYYY NATALIE!

Except for that day you didn’t run. OH! And those four days you forgot to eat fruits and vegetables. Seriously though, it’s hard to continue to stay motivated when you’re still getting back into the swing of things. Here are a couple tips to help you keep your head in the game!

 

Staying Motivated Tip #1:
Be Like Nike and Just Do It.

This one is so simple yet the hardest one for people to stick to. Just Do It. For me, working out earlier in the day is better because as the day goes on I will have more time to think of a reason not to hit the gym or go running. My good friend said that once she gets home from work she puts on her running shorts and sneakers IMMEDIATELY so she would have no excuse to not go running. It’s a simple psychological trick that gets your mind in the and it works like a charm. So stop making excuses and just do it!

 

Staying Motivated Tip #2:
Give It Time.

In general, it takes at least two weeks to see any kind of changes in your body from working out. Clearly every body will differ and individual results will vary depending on a lot of factors. If you’re looking at yourself in the mirror and feeling disappointed after your first week of working out, DON’T GIVE UP. Trust me on this one, just keep hitting the pavement and pumping that iron, wait another week. Whatever you do, do not get discouraged.

 

bring a friend

 

Staying Motivated Tip #3:
Join a Team!

Seriously, there are women’s and co-ed teams of all sorts probably really close to you. If there aren’t tons of team options, there’s almost definitely a running team. Runners have pack mentalities and love to have a new buddy to share their passion with. OR you can start your own league/team! It’s so easy to get a local middle school to lend out their gym once a week on Tuesday nights for your league dodgeball tournaments. Promise.

 

Staying Motivated Tip #4:
Don’t Weigh Yourself.

I am not kidding. Who cares what that dumb scale says anyway. He don’t know me! He doesn’t know how tall you are, or how your eyes sparkle when you laugh, or how soft and shiny your hair is. Don’t you dare listen to his lies. Also, your body weight is rarely a good indicator of your health or fitness level and even your BMI isn’t always a useful number. Although it’s easier to sell magazines and diet plans when there are “rules,” only you know your body and how it reacts to your diet and exercise habits.

What you should be aiming for is how you feel. How high is your energy level? How do your jeans fit? Once they start to loosen — or fit tighter in all the right places — then you can high five yourself in the mirror (I can’t be the only one who does that…).

 

So how have things been going for you? Did you start a new fitness routine last week? Have you stayed motivated in the face of occasional laziness? What’s your favorite way to cook kale? I think next week we’re gonna talk about nutrition!


 Thumbnail image model: Collins

Sarah has written 14 articles for us.

91 Comments

  1. sarah, i used your friend’s idea of putting on workout clothes immediately after work… completely works! it makes you feel ridiculous to lounge in running shoes (especially because i wear the vibram five fingers/toe-glove ones)

  2. Sarah Croce you rock! Thank you for these posts. I love everything about Autostraddle…but this column is long overdue. Seriously.

    I worked out hxc in college through varsity sports, but have slumped since I graduated. This was the kick in the ass I needed. Thanks.

    Wooo lesbians that work out!!

  3. I loved your disclaimer at the beginning of this article. I’ve spent most of my life with this distorted idea that healthy&fit=SUPER SKINNY. But now at 21 I’m enjoying consciously eating well, exercising hard, and especially weight training. Not with extreme thinness as my motivation, but instead just feeling (and looking) stronger.
    It’s nice to have bigger muscles and a more toned body as a goal for once, instead of just a lower number on the scale.
    Thank you for these articles!

  4. I love these posts! Thank you for sharing, Sarah. I’ve been going to the gym for 3 months attempting to get in shape. Couple things I’ve found to be helpful:

    1. Stop drinking alcohol. All of it, ya’ll. I went from not being able to run for 30 seconds without dying to running 2 miles.

    2. Make gym buddies! I find it relaxing to go to the gym and be a “regular”, where you can share your work out tips with other gym rats. It’s also helpful to keep a workout log with reps/meals listed.

    3. Drink protein shakes!

    Can I request we go over good meals/general foods to be eating while getting healthy? What about good workout playlists? And please tell me how you got those abs, Sarah. I’ve been doing 100 sit ups a day!

    • Seriously we are on the same exact page! You actually kind of answered your own question. Cutting out alcohol is really great for cutting excess bodyfat too, especially in the midsection/abdominal area. Haha I’ll have to do an ab post, it goes hand in hand with everything else honestly. Eating right, doing full body workouts rather than focusing on individual muscles, balance. We got this!

      • Yes, thanks! These things get me really excited.

        Juicing seems to be the “it” thing right now, perhaps that can be looked at in the nutrition post. And not too seem too obsessive, but have you looked into ice therapy at all? I read online that sitting in a ice pool for 5 minutes burns more fat than swimming 20 laps in a regular pool. Your body is burning calories at a faster pace in an effort to warm you back up. Could be a myth, but if you’re looking to lose weight it’s worth trying out. I’m sticking with cold showers for now.

  5. My favorite recipe for kale:
    (this makes 4 meals worth)

    Whole wheat pasta (yes, even if you think you don’t like it!) – less than you think you need. I usually take the amount it says for 4 servings, and subtract a handful.
    Kale – a large bundle of it. Pull the leaves off the stems, tear them into tiny pieces, and rinse them. Put the stems in the compost, or save them to add to broth.
    One can white beans – I use butter beans or cannellini beans.
    Hard cheese, like pecorino or asiago.
    Good olive oil.

    Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the pasta. Wait five minutes, and then add the kale. Keep boiling until the pasta is cooked.
    Open the can of beans, and dump them into a colander. Then use this colander to drain the pasta/kale mixture. Now the beans are heated up.
    Put the kale/bean/pasta mixture back in the pot, add about a tablespoon of good-tasting olive oil. Cut a block about 1 inch by 3 inches off the hard cheese, and grate this into the pot. Mix it around with everything else.

    Serve with freshly-ground pepper, perhaps a bit more of the cheese (to taste) and a good friend or loved one.

    This also keeps well as a lunch for the next day at work – even if you don’t have access to a microwave.

  6. imagine the peeps from autostraddle are cheering you on! or you can use other gay icons. that’s what i do when i play tennis, but im sure it would translate easily to workout motivation. i play for the gay!:]

  7. Just as I was going regularly over break and *gasp* making friends at the gym in my apartment complex, they go and suddenly decide to close it for renovations. So I got really pissed off and frustrated that I no longer had anywhere to work out, and then realized I’ve had the Nike+ shoes & iPod nano watch since last summer, and haven’t run once. I ended up walking (still working on the running) 5 miles on Saturday and 5 miles early this morning! Go me!

  8. yay this is so great! when the last post came out i was in the middle of deciding whether to get a gym membership or not. i was inspired and did it and i also got a new job so i’ve started biking to work almost everyday! i find when i just head to the gym right after work without thinking about it (or if i do think about it, i convince myself i can take it easy), once i get going i push myself harder because it’s now on my own terms and i have nothing to rebel against. i’m also less inclined to overeat because i’m keeping myself busy and for some reason i don’t crave processed foods/alcohol after working out either! the biggest benefit i’ve noticed thus far though (after 2 weeks) is how much softer/clearer my skin has gotten! also my mood is better! even when i was pmsing! yay, thank you all for the inspiration :D

    • ps the other day i made a kale salad with soy ginger sauce, lemon juice, cranberries, pecans, almonds, and chick peas/garbonzo beans. soooo good! also, kale chips are super easy and amazeballs. and it’s seasonal!

  9. This column is all kinds of awesome.

    I love running outdoors, hate running on treadmills in the gym. Anyone have any tips for running outside when the weather is bad i.e. rainy and cold? Otherwise will have to resort back to the gym next winter.

  10. Top five reasons wall climbing is killer for working out:

    1) You improve really fast, which means faster results, which makes it easy to stay motivated
    2) You can do it by yourself, or as many people as you want
    3) Climbing gyms have a lot of walls that range in difficulty, so you can do it for a really long time and still challenge yourself daily
    4) Girls in tank tops. Everywhere.
    5) Climbing is a really good exercise for both your hands and forearms. Two things that no lesbian I know would turn down!

  11. As a person who can eat nothing but cheeseburgers and remain a miniature human, the emphasis I see in a lot of mainstream workout/nutrition media on losing weight is extremely frustrating to me. If I lose any weight, I start flirting with the “underweight” BMI category (as useful as that is).

    I recommend getting in the pool, everyone. Swimming is a great all-over body workout (even just walking through the water can build strength and endurance) while staying low-impact on your joints, and there is nothing more satisfying than feeling your body slice through the water. And if you hate swimming laps, try something else! Water polo, synchronized swimming (I did it all through high school, it’s great fun), even water aerobics – I used to teach water aerobics classes, and trust me, the old ladies will love ya.

  12. I only have access to a treadmill and every time I get in the swing of running on it, my shins start to kill after a couple of days! What do I do?? The weather is super crappy where I am and I don’t want to stop doing cardio. Will the pain go away if I just power through?

    • I had this same problem in my knees when I first started running. I needed to build up my cardio without damaging anything in the process, so I started doing 35 minutes a day on the eliptical. I did this for 3 – 4 weeks, then starting alternating running and walking in short bursts on the treadmill. I can run up to 2 miles now with no problems, so I would recommend just going easy on the shins until your body has had time to adjust.

      But, I’m no health expert.

    • Make sure you’re stretching properly, too! Do that calf stretch where you prop your foot up against something (wall, step, cute girl) and stttrrrrreeeeeeetttttcccccchhh. Super good for preventing shin splints.

  13. I steam my kale in a covered saucepan until it’s soggy-ish, add a squeeze of lemon, and put a fluffy poached egg with salt and pepper on top of it. Runny eggs taste REALLY good on kale.

  14. My workout/look good for myself (and my mom) is simple.

    Homemade soup. Get some veggies. Low sodium broth. Go to town.

    Then make a playlist of your 20 favorite songs to dance to. Then dance. The best part is trying to sing all the words at the same time. It’s like Living Room Broadway.

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