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How to Motivate Yourself to Exercise
Are you a professional athlete addicted to drugs – er – I mean running? A ballerina? Or perhaps one of those shady people who turn up in television infomercials claiming the “weight loss” benefits of some miracle tea/ bamboo shoot/ capsule/ belt/ Kareena Kapoor poster? No? Oh well, not surprising. Oddly enough, these people never seem to need help of the internet for running their lives. This post is not for them anyway. It’s for the ordinary folk. Yes, you there, lazing around like an alligator. And you too, crouching in a corner. Put down those leftover New Year sweets and alcohol. And stop licking your chocolate cake stained fingers.
So, you know the story of Sheikh Chilli? My mum says it’s based on me just because I said that I wanted to invent a time machine and go back in the 1960’s to get married to Joy Mukherjee (SO BLOODY HOT!). Anyway, that’s irrelevant. We’re all Sheikh Chillis here. We want to look hotter than Megan Fox in her Transformers look, we want drop dead gorgeous skin, we want to be healthy, we want to be as strong and energetic as the Gummy Bears on their Gummy Juice, AND we also want the brainy nerds (aka clever scientists) to come up with a pill with all those benefits so that we can pop it in and go back to our sedentary lifestyles. Don’t come raging at me like a Bigg Boss inmate. You know that it’s all true, and you even have the guts to grumble that you don’t have the TIME to exercise.
It’s okay, I understand. What with demanding jobs with Hari Sadu like bosses, little brats, family obligations (aka exotic holidays), Facebook and Farmville, Twitter updates (“I had a heart-attack-on-plate dish, yay!”), challenging intellectual pastimes (watching that Akshara show and improving self-manicure skills) and getting just enough sleep to keep from doing a faceplant into your fancy cup of coffee during 9 am meetings, WHEN are you supposed to do this ridiculous thing called exercise?
If Barack Obama can find time to stay fit, why can’t you? No, watching Rakhi Sawant belt out her “insaaf” is NOT more important than your increasing girth or that dull skin. It’s not the question of time here and everyone knows it. It’s just a problem called lack of motivation. Here’s a list of cheat codes that you may use to tackle your inner sluggard –
1. Do It In Chunks
Don’t go all over-enthusiastic and declare to the world your aim of running for 2 hours every day. Start with a short workout of 15 to 20 minutes. It could be anything – a brisk walk, a few Yoga poses, core-building Pilates, or even fast dancing on your favourite songs. You can build it up little by little and once your body realises that it is going to be whipped up into shape after years of neglect, it will stop groaning and declaring war against you too. You could always increase the intensity later once you are used to your workouts.
2. Enjoy It
Aerobics reminds you of school PT classes with fat teachers in white shorts? Try some fast dance moves instead. Find Yoga too boring with excessive jalebi-like bending? Go for Pilates which gives similar leanness minus the whole feel-your-inner-self New Age kind of schpeel. Don’t find any of that interesting? Okay, just do a little jogging in your nearby park or go swimming. The main reason why most people do not feel motivated enough to exercise is not because they are busy taking out processions in the street for the Lokpal Bill. It’s because they just don’t ENJOY their exercise. It should not feel like a Karmic retribution for all those chocolates you stole from your siblings when you were a “badhta baccha” (in terms of girth, not height). It should feel cool, it should feel fun, it should make you excited enough to go, “Huzzah! Exercise time!” and do a little jig in anticipation. Yes, it is possible. No, do not roll your eyes. That does not burn calories.
3. Pick Any, Pick Many
You know what I love about exercise? No, it is not the fact that it makes me sweat a lot and compels me to buy more perfumes. What I love is the sheer plethora of choice that I have. It’s so easy to enjoy your routine if you make it varied enough. You can just make it a very à la carte menu kind of a thing according to your time and interests. Who says you must look like a sweaty pig in front of 50 strangers in a gym if you want to stay fit? I don’t like gyms. I tried for a few weeks but this is how my thought process goes once I am there – “I’ll do a minimum of 30 minutes on treadmill today. Fast. Faster… Good grief! That’s my English professor! Must not look at her and make her feel uncomfortable about her silly gym pants. Ok, back to exercise. Hey! That girl is wearing Easy Tone shoes! Wonder if they work. Damn. Must concentrate on exercise. Oooooh! Cute guy!” and so on. In short, it’s a rather distracting place for certain people. So, I choose to workout at home and decide my exercise based on how my mood is. Kickboxing for I-will-kill-so-and-so days, Pilates for gotta-look-nice-in-that-dress occasions, Yoga for all-is-right-with-the-world moods, dance for must-spend-pent-up-energy evenings, running for lazy weekends where I need to pump it up a little etc.
4. Reward Yourself
It’s the same old carrot methodology and you’re the Bugs Bunny here. Try to stick to an exercise routine for a week. Success? Buy that new dress over which you’ve wasted half a ton of greedy drool. One more week? Eat a cake. Another one? You may or may not steal a credit card and buy a Chanel bag. Hush. I did NOT give you the idea to steal. It’s the chor in your heart which did so. Hmph. Anyhoo, the basic idea is the same that is used on greedy little kids who are learning to walk. Show them candy (or their pretty mommy) and let them come stumbling towards the source. Someday, they will grow up and run a marathon.
5. Other People
Have you watched ‘The Jane Austen Book Club’? In that, one of the characters is so inspired by reading Austen’s books that she takes a major decision of her life by asking herself, “What would Jane Austen do?”. That’s my policy too. No, I do not ask myself “What would Jane Austen do?” and then proceed to engage in verbal fights with every taciturn, rich and good looking man I meet. Instead, I look at pictures of unbelievably fit women in fashion magazines and on television, and then, on the days that my inner sluggard is telling me to “just skip the darn exercise”, I ask myself “What would the Fit Cover Model do?”. It’s not as if I want to be a model (a model for Santa’s little elves perhaps, considering my height) but it’s simply because I want those toned legs, abs or just an overall fit body and a good skin. It works every time. You just need to find a motivating factor. It could be the aspiration for a great figure or the desire to wear a hot dress without looking like a decorated earthen pitcher or maybe the wish to stop feeling so unhealthy and sluggish all the time.
6. Your Entourage
I belong to a family of pretty fit Punjabis. Anyone who stands up and screeches, “Oxymoron! Yeh saraasar jhooth hai, milord!” will get an “Order! Order!” knock from the mallet right over her judgemental little head. Except for two chubby little cousins who seem to be joined to butter chicken by their fat little hips, almost everyone is health conscious. During my exams this September, I had given up exercise for a month or so, and was too lazy to get back to it. Lucky for me, my father kept prodding me to stop munching on “silly junk food” (his words, not mine – I respect my unhealthy food) all the time and kicked me back on my Yoga mat. I have friends who go to the gym regularly or are into sports. Even my mother and kid brother go for a daily walk. That pretty much shames me into taking care of my body and moving it around a little.
Make a few friends join the same workout that you do. That’s one of the greatest motivating factors ever. If you see that there is another poor little body being rudely whipped into shape along with your own, you’ll be less likely to slack. The same philosophy is at work when people accept potholes on roads, powercuts in summer, red tape, transport strikes etc. It’s because we console ourselves saying that everyone else is suffering too. Ab kya kar sakte hain?
Also, if you are one of those people who have never exercised in life and are surrounded by fools who are bound to point and laugh at you if you start your workout now, learn a little technique. Stop announcing to these kinds of people what you are doing. Their ridicule and scepticism (“Workout and you? Hahahaha!”) will only pull you down. So, give exercise only to the mouth and chew a Centre Fresh.
Please do not go off running to do a Ganga snan. I understand that ‘prioritise’ can be a rather dirty word for people who are adept at altering to-do lists to suit their slothfulness. However, you need evil to fight evil. So, yes, prioritise your tasks. Make exercise a TOP priority in your life. Do not put it in as a forgotten footnote beneath nonsense like “Watch Ram Kapoor gulp down 6 paranthas in Bade Acche Lagte Hain” or “Google hot pictures of Ranvir Singh” or “Make a voodoo doll of Boss” or “Stare at the wall till it moves”. Even if you have only half an hour for a workout, do it anyway. Your body will thank you for it. On busy days too, you should think twice before giving your workout a miss. Just put on any silly song that you like and dance around a little. If you cannot or do not like to dance, go for a 10 minute brisk walk. If you do not want to step out of the house, walk on your roof or just go up and down the stairs about ten times. It does not have to be one boring routine. Spice it up a little. It’s your workout. Make it a little mad if you want to. Just make sure you do it.
8. Put A Cork in It
Most important of all, quit whining. Treat exercise like something that you MUST do whether you like it or not. We’ve all done things we needed to do but hated more than Shoaib Akhtar hates good English – be it going to the dentist, attending that class in college where the subject is boring and the teacher is stupid, going to that idiotic family function where everyone will either pull your cheeks or pick 9785 faults in you, consuming that horrible tasting medicine, and even getting waxed. It’s mandatory. You cannot get out of it. Sure, you may delay it a little but once your much abused body starts to take its revenge on you, you WILL have to take care of it. That will also involve exercise and much more trouble. So why not begin now? What was that Hindi proverb about starting ASAP again?
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