You know you should work out — but sometimes, getting to the gym feels downright impossible. (Photo: Offset)
Looking good and feeling fantastic can’t come from food and vitamins alone. (Damn.) But if you look at exercise as a drag, consider this: Scientists believe that the endorphin rush you get from exercise hikes up your mood. Running and aerobic exercise can help combat everything from PMS, stress, and depression to morning sickness during pregnancy. Here are two sneaky strategies to actually get you excited about working out:
Mix Up Your Menu
Let’s be honest: Half the reason we don’t like to exercise is that it gets boring. This is why you shouldn’t go on the same run or do the same elliptical workout every single day. Plus, studies show that mixing things up actually tones your body better than working the same muscles in the same way every day. Thankfully we live in an era where new exercises are abundant! Try hot yoga one day and do a YouTube-led 10-minute abs video the next. Throw in a spin or boot camp class here and there. Increasingly you’ll find more local run clubs and boutique workout classes. Consider checking one out—you’ll not only get a workout, you might meet some new friends. By shaking up your exercise routine, you’re more likely to see exercise as a fun release and not a chore.
Tone Up in Front of the TV
Sometimes you just can’t get to the gym to pump iron. But you can still do some fast exercises at home while you’re watching Scandal or Game of Thrones. Throw down a towel, and do these three calorie-torching workouts three times a week. Don’t get fancy, don’t strive for daily vigilance, just do them when you can (Commercials are a good time to hit the floor).
Get on all fours and extend one leg back. Keep it straight out behind you. Lift just a little higher and a little lower than your butt. It’s the mini-motions that will help melt the fat. Switch legs and repeat. Try to set your own pace, working up to four sets of twenty reps on each side. Next, bring your knee down and do thrusts into the air, with your toe pointed. Don’t bring your knee all the way down to the floor; just pull it down a few inches and then thrust it higher. Switch legs and repeat. When you feel your lower cheeks burning, you know you’ve done enough.
This Pilates-based move called the Roll Back* will give you an all-over tummy-smoothing effect. Sit in an upright position with your knees bent and your feet together, so your legs create an upside-down “V” with the floor. For support, grip the backs of your legs where your thigh meets your knee with your hands. Lengthen your back as much as possible, and “scoop” your abs in by squeezing your butt muscles inward and upward. Now inhale slowly and begin rolling back so your back makes a forty-five-degree angle with the floor. Hold the position for a few seconds as you slowly exhale. Now inhale and begin rolling up to the upright position. Start with ten roll backs, and work up to two reps of ten. (*Move courtesy of Brooke Siler, author of The Pilates Body.
Reprinted courtesy of HarperCollins Publishers.)
If you’re worried about having a little jiggle underneath your upper arms, this move will turn them from cottage cheese to solid marble. Move your coffee table out of the way, face away from the sofa, and position the palms of your hands at the edge of the sofa. With your butt at a forty-five-degree angle off the floor, your knees bent, and your feet out in front of you, slowly lower yourself toward the floor. Go down almost until your butt touches, and then bring yourself up again, using only your arms to lift your body. Start out doing two sets of twenty, and work your way up to three sets of ten.
Excerpted with permission from the new edition of The Modern Girls Guide to Life, available now.
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