While physical results are important, another way to assess your workouts is to ask yourself: Am I enjoying this? Working out isn't always fun and it's sometimes a struggle get started, but if you feel a knot in the pit of your stomach every time you think of getting on the 'dreadmill' or use any excuse to skip your workout ("Gee, my junk drawer is way too messy for me to workout today"), something isn't working.
If you hate what you're doing, there's a good chance you'll stop doing it at some point. Before you do, ask yourself a few questions to find out if there's another way to exercise:
- Do my workouts fit my personality? - If you're a social exerciser and struggling to do your workouts at home, you may prefer a gym where you can draw on energy from other exercisers. If you're a competitive person, playing basketball or racquetball may suit you better than walking to nowhere on a treadmill. During your next workout, think about what you like about it ("I like being at the gym with other exercisers") and what you don't like ("But I can't stand the cardio machines"). Is there a way to change things so you enjoy your workouts more?
- Do my workouts have a purpose? - This may seem like a dumb question, but if you randomly pick exercises without having any real idea of what you're working or why, exercise starts to feel pointless. However, knowing your focus is to build a strong chest or that you want to burn extra calories and build endurance with interval training, you know exactly what you're doing and why. Have a plan for every workout: What you're doing, how long, how hard and the goal of the workout. For example: "I'm doing a 45-minute interval workout on the treadmill to burn calories and work on my endurance, followed by a lower body stretch for flexibility.
- Do my workouts fit with my lifestyle? - If you constantly schedule 5 or 6 days of training, but only show up for 3, you end up in a cycle of frustration and failure. You may need more training to reach your goals, but something is standing in your way:
- Your fitness level - If you're just starting out, your body may not be ready to handle more than a few days of exercise. Gradually add more time (e.g., 5 minutes to each cardio workout) or intensity (e.g., adding a set of each strength exercise after two weeks of training) to slowly work your way up to more frequent exercise.
- Your schedule - Are you missing workouts because you're too busy to exercise? If you want to reach your goals but aren't doing enough exercise to get there, you have to make a choice: Do you change your goal or do you change your schedule? Or perhaps you make small changes in your schedule to accommodate more exercise, building on that as it gets easier. You don't have to change your schedule overnight, so start small and practice making exercise a part of your life. The more you practice, the easier it gets.
- Your priorities - If exercise is a priority while you're planning it, but not during the follow-through, it may not be as important to you as you think. If exercise matters to you, you'll be more motivated to do it. If you keep scheduling and skipping, ask yourself what would make it more of a priority? If you knew exercise would give you more energy during the day or that it would help you sleep better at night, would that motivate you? Finding the value in exercise, beyond weight loss, can help make it a priority.