In a word: traffic.
If you’re unfortunate enough to live more than a few miles away from your employer in this major metropolitan area like I do, you’re guaranteed to hit traffic during rush hour. And considering the ever-present construction projects on just about every major highway and tollway, there’s no way to avoid traffic except for beating the rest of the single-driver-car schmucks out of bed in the mornings.
Last year, after a few especially miserable morning commutes, I declared that I just couldn’t take it any longer. Despite my best efforts to distract myself with audio books, podcasts or my favorite music, sitting in traffic for 45-60 minutes each morning was unbearably painful.
Mornings are my favorite time. With each stop-and-go and cut-off by some random jerk, I thought of how I was wasting a good mood (oh those great chemicals from my morning workout!) and prime mental processing time. I’m at my sharpest in the morning and my mental acuity fades as the day goes on, so it makes sense for me to get to the office as soon as possible so that I can do my best work.
So I switched things up.
Instead of hitting the gym nearest to my home each morning and showering at home before driving to work, I found another gym location just minutes from my office and made it my own.
When my alarm went off each day, if there was ever a temptation to Snooze or wimp out and “just do some yoga at home,” I would think about the traffic. If I got up immediately and started my day, I could whizz off toward the office with nary a pump of the brakes. I could even speed! (Not that I ever do). Every minute that ticked by through a potential Snooze session, though, meant a longer, more miserable commute. Cars everywhere, going nowhere. This motivator worked brilliantly for me.
Remove the choice.
I generally enjoy exercise and I don’t usually need another motivator to get me into the gym, but this approach has helped going to the gym become automatic. Failproof! I don’t even ask myself, “Should I go to the gym today?” I just go because it has become my habit every single weekday.
Committing to showering at the gym was a big change and something I never thought I’d do. Strange as it sounds, I just never thought of myself as one of “those people.” But it has been one of the best changes I’ve ever made. I simply don’t give myself the option of getting ready for work at home anymore. I have to visit the gym in order to get ready for my day.
But what about those days when you don’t feel like working out?
Yes, sometimes I feel worn out, but I still get myself into the gym. I try to walk slowly on the treadmill and do some gentle yoga. Even just a little A.M. movement makes a huge difference in how I feel and how I take on my day. Plus, I gotta shower anyways, right? Might as well do a little something, even if I barely break a sweat.
I’ve since changed jobs and changed gyms, and I adopted the same strategy.
There’s still a gym about a mile from my home, but I drive right by it (in a different direction now) and on toward my office each morning. Because I hate traffic that much.
If you’re like me, and traffic seems like an unavoidable part of your day AND you want to exercise regularly, I challenge you to get creative in how you can work in exercise and beat the traffic game all at once.
Maybe you can find an early morning group exercise class near your office or walk around the block a few times with a coworker each day to avoid the evening rush. Whatever it looks like, find a solution that works for you to make it automatic and remove the choice.
What do you think?
- What time of day do you typically exercise?
- Do you take a shower at your gym?