If you think motivating yourself to work out is hard, you're not alone.
Just ask Jen Widerstrom, trainer on NBC's Biggest Loser and author of new book Diet Right for Your Personality Type. She'll admit it's not easy — and she's not just talking about her clients.
"People look at me and think I just jump out of bed, don't need coffee. That's definitely not me," she says. "Most days of the week, it's tough for me to get to the gym."
Here's how she does it: (Spoiler alert: You don't have to have your own fitness TV show.)
1. Learn that looking good ≠ being healthy.
A career in fitness modeling made Widerstrom hyper-aware of her body — and not in a good way.
"All of my motivation for moving was just to look good," she says. "I started to consider throwing-up after my meals. I remember catching myself in that moment and thinking, 'If I go down this path, I don't know if I'll ever get myself out.'"
Fortunately, Widerstrom learned that what works for others wasn't cutting it for her, so she started designing workouts that centered on actually getting healthy, not just looking the part.
Just go for it — that's the biggest key. I mess up or fail a lot, but I'm one of the happiest people I know. Love yourself enough to try.
2. Make workouts fit your life, not the other way around.
Just because your friend raves about CrossFit doesn't mean you have to join her at 5:30 a.m. Monday through Friday (phew!). In fact, you'll get better results if you stick with a routine that works with your personality, not against it, says Widerstrom.
If you are looking for some workout staples to start out, she recommends "strong-man training," such as sled-pushing, rope-pulling, and throwing medicine balls, which is how she trains her contestants. This type of training doesn't put too much pressure on your joints, which is crucial if you're carrying around extra weight.
3. Earn your own trust.
The most important tip for staying on track is being true to your word. If you promise yourself you're going to go for a morning run, don't talk yourself out of it when the alarm clock rings.
When staying true to your own word fails you (and it probably will), that's when you get an accountability partner. "Have somebody that you meet at the gym," says Widerstrom. And you can make it fun: Instead of going out to dinner or drinks, Widerstrom uses workouts as her time to see friends.
4. Eat the right amount of the right stuff.
Staying satiated all day is one of the best ways to avoid overeating and prevent your body from storing fat in fear that it won't be fed again soon. Instead of starving yourself (an obvious no-no), Widerstrom advises opting for "one-ingredient snacks" to stay full and fueled (think: almonds (Widerstrom's favorite) or dates); your body can easily digest them and turn them into energy.
But just because these snacks are healthy doesn't mean you should eat the whole bag. Portion your snacks out in advance to avoid overeating, Widerstrom says, and snack on them before eating out to dodge the bread basket.
5. Check in with yourself every three days.
No, not on the scale. Every three days make sure that you are moving enough. "By the end of day three, if it's 8 p.m. and you haven't moved yet, get 20 minutes of movement, like a walk around the block," Widerstrom says.
6. Learn from 'failures.'
Chocolate soufflé is Widerstrom's weakness, so she always orders it at restaurants — but vows to take only three bites. But sometimes, because it's chocolate soufflé, she can't help but finish the entire dang thing.
Instead of feeling guilty or giving up, learn from your missteps. "Don't punish yourself," she says. "Instead, use the information to recalibrate the way you think about 'failures.'"
7. Get #empowered.
You've got to start somewhere, and Widerstrom says taking that first step is the most important part of the fitness journey. "Just go for it — that's the biggest key," she says. "I mess up or fail a lot, but I'm one of the happiest people I know. Love yourself enough to try."