Fitness experts agree that the toughest part of getting fit is motivation, which waxes and wanes. Once you're out the door, you're committed -- but lacing up your runners and stepping out there is the challenge. Here are six surefire expert-approved tactics to help you get out and get psyched, perfect for those us of who've been away from exercise so long we've become a little gym-shy.
1. Get moving for someone else
A charitable cause, with no pressure to achieve a certain number on the scale or any long-term commitment, offers a good way to test the waters. Having a cause heightens commitment, too, because physical activity is attached to something as important as saving lives, not just squeezing into a bikini, and you're united with many others in your goal.
2. Remember you're not the only beginner
If joining a new gym class is a little daunting, consider that everyone else is a little nervous and shy, too. There's the fear of doing something wrong or tiring before the class is over. And everyone squirms in their spanking new leotard and virgin white sneakers. It's kind of like picturing everyone else in their underwear when making a speech.
3. Find some guidance
Research shows that often people don't exercise simply because they don't know how, suggests Bess. H. Marcus, a professor of psychiatry and human behaviour at Brown University. Even running requires a start-up plan, so join a running club or a class to learn proper warm-up moves, how to pace yourself, the right gear to use and other helpful tricks.
4. Choose real role models
Elite athletes and runway models just make us feel fat and inept, and tackling too much at first can leave you feeling defeated instead of pumped. Looking at others who've made the transition from desk spud to fit chick can helps us see the possibilities that lie ahead for our success.
5. Find a cheering squad
One study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found support breeds success. Researchers showed that people who attended Weight Watchers weekly support meetings lost more weight and kept it off compared to people in self-guided weight-loss programs. "Ongoing support has the potential to offer help in many ways: for example, [you can] maintain a connection with individuals undergoing similar challenges, share stories, successes and problems and brainstorm solutions when needed," says Scott Going, associate professor of nutritional sciences at the University of Arizona, who heads up the Healthy Weight 4 Life Research Program.
6. Step into the role
Although your first inclination may be to wear a frumpy, oversized T-shirt and loose sweats, workout clothes can actually be more flattering and motivate you -- you can see your moves better, they're more comfortable and they absorb sweat. Act like a person who loves to work out and you'll become one.
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