Motivation to work out after work
Setting yourself up for workout success starts within an hour of waking up, says dietitian Wendy Bazilian, co-author of and an American College of Sports Medicine-certified health and fitness specialist. Even though it's hours before your trip to the gym, having a smart breakfast will keep your body from depleting its stored glycogen, which you need to stay energized throughout the rest of the day. Nosh on a solid breakfast with protein, a fruit or veggie, and a complex carbohydrate (like whole grain toast).
Keep Lunch Light
Don't let a food coma get in the way of your workouts. No matter what you're eating, if you have too much of it, your blood sugar is going to go through the roof and then plummet back down leaving you drowsy and maybe even unproductive, says Bazilian. To fight midday fatigue, eat a light meal like a wrap or salad that features a complex carbohydrate, fruit or vegetable, and protein. Also, try to avoid foods with refined carbs or lots of sugar, which can cause you to crash later in the day. Keeping your blood sugar steady will stabilize your energy, help you get more done, and feel awake enough to make it to the gym. And get this: When you eat lunch can be as important as what you eat, says Bazilian. Try to eat about four hours before you plan to work out because your stomach takes about three hours to clear out its contents. And if your digestive system is still working to digest your food, it's using energy that you could be putting towards your workout.
Pack a Snack
If making it to the gym four hours after eating lunch is tough for you, make sure you bring a pre-exercise snack to eat about 45 minutes before you hit the road. Since snacks are smaller than meals, this is just the right amount of time for your body to digest most of this snack and use it as energy during your workout, says Bazilian. When you chow down on a small, easily digestible snack consisting of mostly carbs and a little protein, you're going to have more energy to work harder at the gym, says Bazilian. "It seems a little weird to consume calories before your burn calories, but it's about the bigger picture, " she says. "You want to feel good while you're working out and have energy to push yourself." She recommends an apple with peanut butter or even a latté. Another thing: After your snack, try to get up and move around a bit, says Shear. Getting your heart rate up (even a tiny bit) helps get your blood flowing and keeps you from feeling lethargic, she says. She suggests walking up and down some stairs in your office building or, if you have an office, closing your door and doing a few jumping jacks.
MORE: 7 Recovery Day Mistakes You Might Be Making
Take Advantage of Your Tech
Another way to make sure hitting the gym is on your to-do list for the day is to create a calendar reminder on your computer or set an alarm on your phone, says Shear. That little signal serves as a very obvious reminder of your workout goals and can keep you from backing out because you were so busy that you forgot (or "forgot").
Change into Your Exercise Gear Before You Leave the Office
When you switch clothes before you leave work, number one, you're giving yourself a visual reminder that you're committed to working out. Number two: You're making yourself more accountable to yourself and to your coworkers. You're not going to want to admit that you didn't work out like you said you were going to, says Shear.
And Leave Things at the Office
If your gym has a location near your office, after you change, leave your work stuff and go exercise with just your gym bag. Shear says this eliminates the temptation to pass up the gym on your journey home because you won't have your things with you that you need for the night—you couldn't go straight home even if you wanted to. If your gym isn't close to work, since it's summertime, go for a jog or do some interval training near your office building.
Use the Buddy System
Instead of making plans to meet up with an old friend over cocktails, schedule a sweat session to catch up. Although you're probably not going to be chatting it up during a tough bootcamp class or treadmill interval workout, the fact that you're meeting a friend there will make you less likely to back out, says Shear. Then you can grab dinner after the workout.
Treat Treats as Motivation
Go ahead and bargain with yourself. If you look forward to a glass of wine at the end of your day, turn that little treat into a reward for your workout, says Bazilian. No workout? No wine.
Set the Bar REALLY Low
If you tell yourself that you have to go to the gym for at least 15 minutes, you're more likely to go than if you have an all-or-nothing mentality, says Bazilian. "If you make your goal ridiculously easy, it gets you to go. And once you're at the gym, you might think ‘well, I could probably stay just a little longer, '" she says. Not to mention, it's totally possible to fit in an effective workout in just 15 minutes—or even five!)