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I’ve Been Working Out 6-7 Days Per Week For 20 Years. These Are The Mental Tricks I Use To Stay On Track

Jaleh Bisharat

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Woman working out.

I don’t think of myself as an athlete. I don’t run marathons, and I’m not out there trying to score the winning goal. But I can say I’ve been working out 6-7 days a week for 20 years now.

As the co-founder of a clean beauty startup, sometimes it’s tough to find the motivation, let alone time, to work out nearly every day. But I always find a way, whether it requires changing my mindset or my schedule. Because my health is too important to me—and my company.

My goal is a healthy body and a sharp mind. For me, the research conclusions supporting the mental benefits of exercise feel so very real. My mind and body are so connected that when I’ve exercised, I feel more able to take on the day.

Here are the mental tricks I use to stay on track:

1: Treat working out like a meeting that can’t be moved.

Rain or shine, whether I feel like it or not, I work out (unless I’m sick). I treat it like going to work or doing a favor I promised a friend—skipping it just isn’t an option. Reminding myself how good I’ll feel after also helps!

My co-founder Kimberly once told me that in the Air Force  they teach you to think of workouts like “a meeting that can’t be rescheduled.” I love that, and use it as inspiration for sticking to my own routine.

2: Save time by working out at home—in my case it’s five days a week.

I work out right when I wake up, before I even get the chance to reconsider. I jet down the stairs at 6:15 a.m. while my husband, usually drinking coffee, usually smiles as I pass by. Then it’s straight to the basement for a workout.

The other two days, I have a trainer and Pilates instructor who keep me honest and push me harder than I’d ever push myself. Both challenge me in different ways, and the different natures of each exercise routine balance each other out nicely.

I’m happy to spend money on fitness, because I believe an investment in your health is the best you can make. But I understand that not everyone can afford to do this—I certainly couldn’t when I was younger. If you can’t, don’t sweat it (except on your mat, maybe). There are countless great free or cheap workout videos out there. I often use them on the days I work out at home.

A few of my favorite video coaches are Ellen Barrett, Chalene Johnson, Jillian Michaels, Anna Renderer, Leslie Sansone, Jessica Smith, and Lucy Wyndham-Read. You can’t go wrong with any of these awesome, strong women leading your workout.

3: Live by the mantra that ‘something is infinitely better than nothing.’

There are days when I’m running late and tempted to skip my workout. When this happens, I remind myself that 20 minutes of exercise is so much better than nothing.

Whether you have 20 minutes or an hour to work out, you’ll be happy you did something good for yourself.

4: Work to be mindful during exercise.

This is hard for me because my mind is often racing with what I need to get done and how to optimize my day. But when I work out, I try to clear my mind and focus. Doing this is almost like a kind of meditation; it leaves me calmer and better equipped to face the day’s challenges.

I try to be present for every cardio burst, every weightlifting set, every Pilates move. This is not always easy, especially at the start of a busy week, but when I’m successful in clearing my mind and focusing only on the exercise, I can feel the difference. Especially because, after watching my father battle ALS and lose his mobility, I don’t take my health for granted.

Simply put, I’m grateful for my workouts.

I’ve reached the point that when I can’t work out because I’m sick, I miss it. I get an itch to put my body in motion again. I usually can’t wait until I’m fully healthy again, so once I start feeling better, I do a relaxed Pilates session (mostly a stretch).

A love of exercise is a special joy! And every morning when I wake up, stretch and smile, I take a moment to be thankful for mine. But this only lasts for one quick moment, of course, before I head down to the basement to start my day by moving.

Co-founder/CEO at NakedPoppy, a clean beauty startup. Former CMO/VP Marketing at OpenTable, Amazon, Upwork, Eventbrite. Follow Jaleh on Medium: https://medium.com/@jalehbisharat

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