If you are anything like me, going to the gym every day can be a tough task.
It was not so bad when I was living on a college campus and could walk to the gym (and it was free), but now it just does not happen as often as I would like.
Though I may not be getting in weightlifting five days a week, I have found that there are so many ways to be active and burn calories that do not involve running or biking at the gym. And honestly, who wants to spend valuable time doing boring cardio in a gym anyways?
Here are five things that have kept me burning calories and, with a healthy diet, have allowed me to still lose weight:
1) I bought a Fitbit.
For Christmas, my mom and I bought each other Fitbits. The Fitbit is a wristwatch that when worn tracks your steps, mileage, stairs, and about how many calories have been presumably burned. Not only does it let us keep track of how many steps the other has, and therefore nourish a healthy competition, it also keeps us accountable to ourselves from day to day.
I started out with a goal of 10,000 steps per day and have now raised that to 17,000. On days that I am feeling lazy and making excuses, all I have to do is look at the Fitbit on my wrist and see that I only have 2,000 steps so I better get off my butt and get moving. It works to keep me motivated because I have a competitive streak—even just with myself.
There are plenty of options out there, I am not promoting Fitbit. There are many other devices that can track steps, all at varying price ranges. Even the iPhone will monitor steps as long as it is on your person. The point is that paying attention and tracking how much you move in a day, much like tracking how much you eat in a day, can be an eye-opening experience.
2) I walk or bike as often as I can.
It is no secret that one of the top tips for burning extra calories is to park your car further away from entrances or take the stairs instead of the elevator. It has been said time and time again that it helps to force yourself to walk just a little more whenever you can.
I understand that it is easier and faster to get in the car and go. However, if it is no more than a few miles that I have to travel, walking or taking my bike is not only more relaxing for me, but it also gets me moving and my legs burning.
It is also easier to convince myself to walk places since I am often trying to get as many steps as I can (see above about healthy competition).
3) I take advantage of my surroundings.
Currently, I am in North Carolina for a short period and living in a neighborhood that is like its own small community. I have become the dog walker for people living in this neighborhood, which forces me to get out and walk. There is also a pool here with a lane in it for lap swimming. I am no swimmer, I was never on a team or took any classes, but I will get in there and swim as many laps as I can. Even if I don’t have the time or energy for an actual lap swim workout, I still try to take advantage of having a pool and just get in it to swim and play around. I still burn calories, even without the cap and goggles.
On days that I substitute teach, I never sit down. I make sure to stay on my feet and keep walking around and talking to each of the students. If you have a job that gives you freedom to keep moving, then take advantage of this.
When I go on vacation, which is the prime time to mess up your diet and exercise routine, I zero in on the strengths of wherever I am. When I go to Florida I force myself to do more than nap on the beach and work on my tan. I may walk the beach, jump over waves with my little cousins, or try out the surfboard that a friend brought. When I am in Colorado in the winter, I may go ice skating. When I am visiting friends, I try to go out dancing instead of to a sit down restaurant where all we do is eat delicious appetizers and drink obscene amounts of calories. The list goes on and on.
4) I multitask.
There are tons of at-home workouts plastered all over the internet that are easy to do and can build muscle. I, personally, can often keep myself busy with other things and convince myself that I do not have time to (or just don’t want to) cut out a chunk of my day to do a workout.
What does work for me, however, is to mix workouts into my day. If I am working on homework, every 15 minutes I will stop and do some push-ups. If I am cooking, I will do lunges as I move to the pantry or stove or fridge. If I am cleaning I will play music and dance around the house. If I am watching a show or movie, I will do one of my at-home workouts then.
5) I play to my strengths.
The most important thing is that what I choose to do works for me. If you are someone who likes the gym and having a time set out for that, then that is what works for you. I enjoy being outside and busy and changing things up. I do still enjoy the gym now and then, but I have never been one to stick to a structured weight lifting program. Instead, I may go every so often and do a full body workout, then spend the rest of my time biking around outside or playing in pools or finding new trails to explore. I also know that I have more energy in the evening than in the morning. Therefore, I have found I prefer to run in the evenings or find a yoga sequence online, and do that before I start getting ready for bed. For others, they may prefer to wake up with yoga, or a run, or a workout.
What matters is that I am happy and I am active and I do what works best for me.
These are small things that I have found keep me active. They have helped me stay on track to look and feel the way that I want. Everyone is different and enjoys different things. I am also not going to pretend that these five things are all it takes to get a hot body. Obviously, and unfortunately, a healthy diet is the most important part by far. I can say, however, that these five things have helped get me to where I want to be physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Author: Amanda Reed
Editor: Renee Jahnke
Image: Steve Corey-Flickr