I’m a morning exercise person. Truthfully, if I don’t workout before 7:30am it’s not going to happen. Starting my day with exercise sets a positive tone for the rest of the day and because my experience has been a good one I encourage others to give morning exercise a try. Here are some morning exercise tips just in case you want to give it a shot.

However, I know not everyone is a morning person, doesn’t have the time, or has other circumstances that prevent them from getting in a good morning sweat. Maybe you just prefer to exercise after work. Regardless, starting an after work exercise routine takes just as much discipline and work (maybe even more) than a morning one.

Since I’ve never been one to stick to an after work exercise routine I turned to the Organize Yourself Skinny Facebook group to ask for tips from people who diligently make it to the gym after working a long hard day.

Here are their best tips.

#1. Pack exercise gear the night before.

If your life is anything like mine then mornings are crazy. In the midst of morning chaos, it’s easy to forget your exercise gear, especially if it’s not ready ahead of time. My advice is to get your exercise gear ready the night before and either put it by the door or throw it in the car. Don’t trust your morning self to do any more than it needs to do.

#2. Get into exercise clothes before leaving work.

I totally get this one. When I wake up the first thing I do is get into my exercise clothes. I swear this sends signals to my brain preparing me to exercise. If I stayed in my PJs then it would take an act of God to get me off the couch.

The same goes for exercising after work. I worked 40+ hours a week at a college for 15 years so I remember clearly how I felt after a long day. I was exhausted and my brain was focused on getting home and jumping into my velours.

Changing into exercise clothes before leaving work puts your brain in a different place. It gets you out of office mode and ready to exercise. It’s kind of like getting into your after work super hero outfit. I’ve said this many times but I’ll say it again – getting your brain on board is more than half the battle.

#3. Don’t go home first (exercise before dinner)

The moment you walk in the door your brain goes into home mode. Instead of going home head straight to the gym. If you followed my 2nd tip you should already be in exercise clothes ready to work out.

Going home first will send different signals to your brain. Most likely you’ll start to create excuses and convince yourself why you shouldn’t exercise. Too tired. Kids need to get fed. Laundry needs to be folded. The list goes on and on.

The goal is to create a new after work exercise routine. This means you’ll need to change old habits. It’s just the way it is. Remember you don’t change without change. Heading straight to the gym might feel strange at first but after a couple weeks it will become routine.

#4. Arrange childcare

This was a huge issue for me when my kids were younger. First, I worked all day and didn’t want to one more minute away. Second, I felt guilty asking anyone to babysit because they worked too. It was a struggle to do anything after work. We discussed this topic in the OYS Facebook group and I also discussed it with OYS writer Melissa who works full-time and has a strong after work exercise routine.

The consensus is that exercising makes us better people which makes us better parents. When we take care of ourselves we can better take care of others. This is not meant in a selfish way but simply that a healthy lifestyle brings out the best version of us. This means our families experiences the best version of us. Not the leftovers.

With that said, to make exercise a priority, sometimes you need to enlist the help of a spouse, partner, friends, or family. Maybe it’s hard to find someone 5 days a week but it’s likely someone can help out for an hour or so a couple days a week. Or many gyms have childcare at the facility so look into the different options.

I understand trying to build an after work exercise routine can be difficult with children. However, it’s not impossible and if you want to make exercise a priority then it’s important to create solutions instead of excuses. There are options and while it might seem difficult at first it will get easier.

#5. Have dinner prep dinner ahead of time

I know one of the biggest reasons parents don’t exercise after work is because their family needs to be fed.

Well, having dinner prepped ahead of time is the solution. I used to work a lot of nights back when I worked at a college. Instead of ordering pizza for my kids I’d make sure dinner was ready to eat. Taco meat, meatballs, or whatever was on the menu that week, if I wasn’t going to be home I made sure dinner was made ahead of time. Oh and another thing I learn. Your spouse and/or partner won’t die because you’re not home to warm up the tacos. Kids either.

This same concept works well for anyone who doesn’t plan to be home right away to cook dinner. You can prep food on the weekends or get it ready the night before. Honestly, even on nights you don’t make it to the gym having food prepared is such a stress relief. There’s nothing like coming home to healthy homemade food ready to eat.

Check out these posts for more information on meal prep. I’m telling you, it can make all the difference.

A Beginner’s Guide to Once a Week Food Prep

Meal Prep Like a Boss

#6. Have extra ear buds and charger in the car

A simple but important tip. I won’t exercise if I don’t have ear buds so I keep 1 or 2 extra pair in my car at all times. This helps keep the excuses to a minimum. You’re already tired after work so you don’t need a dead phone or no ear buds keeping you from the gym.

#7. Enlist a friend

Back in the early days of my weight loss journey I never felt the need for a workout buddy. However, over the years I’ve experienced the benefits of having a friend there to push me when I didn’t feel like exercising. This was especially helpful when I was training for the Buffalo half marathon.

If it’s hard to stay committed to a routine then going with a friend might provide the accountability you need. It’s hard to let a friend down when she’s waiting for you at the gym. It also nice to have someone their to encourage and celebrate accomplishments with. Changing habits isn’t easy, especially lifestyle habits so enlisting a friend in your efforts can be a game changer for some of you.

#8. Have a great playlist

Take the time to create a playlist, specifically for exercising. Music can help you relax and meditate but it can also motivate and push you beyond your limits. A great playlist can make or break your workout. It can be the difference between walking 2 miles and pushing yourself to run 5. If it weren’t for my playlist I would’ve never finished the half marathon. The music I listened to kept me going even when I wanted to throw in the towel.

#9. Put exercise in your calendar

I live by my calendar. If an event is not in my calendar then it doesn’t exist. Putting exercise into the calendar makes it an appointment, turns it into a priority, and reminds you that it needs to get done. If you share a calendar with family members then this is a good reminder for them too. They’ll see mom is going to the gym after work so they need to step up and take care of things.

#10. Eat and hydrate throughout the day

This is an important tip. Often times I was exhausted and starving by the end of the day because I didn’t drink enough water or eat many nutritious meals and snacks. I’d drink coffee all day and snack on whatever. To stay fueled up for an after work workout eat 5 meals a day with your 3:00pm snack being high-protein and with good carbs. And drink lots of water all day. I suggest starting off with a green smoothie to jump start hydration and then drink water the rest of the day. This will do wonders in keeping you focused and energized.

Here are some recipes I recommend.

Detox Green Smoothie

Protein Snack Packs

#11. Utilize weekends

Even though this post is about an after work exercise routine, I wanted to throw this into the mix. Like I said, I work full-time at a college for many years. I understand the challenges with exercising after work. If it’s difficult to make it to the gym 4-5 times during the week then try for 2 times a week and utilize your weekends.

I know it’s not easy to get to the gym after a long day but also keep in mind you don’t need to spend hours at the gym to get results. A solid 30-minute run will do more for your body and mind then spending that same amount of time sitting on the couch watching the news.

Creating an exercise routine is essential when changing your lifestyle to a healthier one. If your goal is to exercise after work I hope these tips can help out.

I would love to hear from you. Do you exercise after work? What tips did I miss? What would you add?

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5. Pack a snack.

Make sure you’ve got a pre-exercise snack to eat about 45 minutes before you hit the road. It’s 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 that consists of mostly carbs and a little protein, like an apple with peanut butter, you’re going to have more energy to work harder at the gym, says Bazilian.

RedlineVectorGetty Images 6. Change into your exercise gear before you leave.

When you switch clothes before you leave work, you’re giving yourself a visual reminder that you’re committed to working out. It also helps you hold yourself accountable. After you’ve changed into your gym clothes, you’ll feel way worse about backing out, says Shear.

7. Leave everything else at work.

If your gym has a location near where you work, change into workout gear, then hit the gym with only what you need to sweat. Shear says this eliminates the temptation to pass up your workout on your journey home because you’ll have to go back to work anyway to get your stuff. If your gym isn’t close to work, try going for a jog or do some interval training outside if you can.

8. Use the buddy system.

Instead of making plans to meet up with a friend over cocktails, schedule a fitness class 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 and drinks after the workout.

RaStudioGetty Images 9. Remind yourself exercise helps your mind, too.

“Exercise not only calms the mind, but it enhances brain function and encourages innovation,” Winslow says. So if you’ve got a big project coming up, need to be extra-focused for something at work, or are trying to get through a particularly hectic week, use that as extra reason to exercise and put yourself in the best headspace possible. “Get that workout in and gain a mental edge,” she says.

10. Do what you love.

Yeah, workouts can be challenging, but if you’re forcing yourself to take a class you dread every week—or do a leg-day routine that you get no enjoyment out of—then it’s no wonder that you’re inclined to pass up the gym. Instead, Lampa suggests prioritizing workouts you’ll look forward to in your weekly schedule, whether that be lifting or moves that are all about your core— whatever you love focusing on at the gym. That way, you’ll stay motivated and gym-going will become a habit.

11. Share your progress.

Talking up your gym gains is a great way to hold yourself accountable, says Lampa. By posting on social media or telling a workout buddy what you’ve been up to at the gym, you’ll automatically feel more motivated to keep up the habit. Because, hey, you never know when someone will ask you how your fitness goals are going.

Ashley Oerman Deputy Lifestyle Director Ashley Oerman is the deputy lifestyle director at Cosmopolitan, covering fitness, health, food, cocktails, home, and entertainment. Aryelle Siclait Assistant Editor Aryelle Siclait is an assistant editor at Women’s Health where she writes about relationship trends, sexual health, pop-culture news, food, and physical health for verticals across WomensHealthMag.com and the print magazine.

Con of Morning Exercise

Increased Risk of Injury. “A more thorough warmup will be needed in the morning, especially if you’ll be using resistance training exercises where you’re bending,” says fitness and nutrition coach Sean Flanagan. Dr. Jason Miller also expressed concern over the lower back for morning exercisers. “While we sleep, our discs swell with water, making them extra fluffy and more adapt to herniate or ‘slip’ if performing high spinal compression exercises like the back squat or repeated spinal flexion exercises like rowing (if not performed properly). It takes about an hour or so for those discs to get back to normal. So for the early exerciser who likes to hit the weights hard, getting up even earlier to ensure spinal health is important.”

Pros of Evening Exercise

1. You’re more physically prepared. “Assuming you’re not working out so late that you’re tired, your nervous system will be more ready for a great workout than in the morning,” Flanagan says. “In addition, you’ll likely have more food in your system. All this contributes to the potential to use heavier weights and do more repetitions, which will lead to more calories burned during and after the session.”

2. It allows for lengthier sessions. James cites the potential for lengthier workouts as a physical and social benefit of evening exercise, with “longer warm ups, greater rest periods to allow for substrate replenishment, time to decompress, de-stress, and socialize with training partners.”

3. It’s safer for power and strength workouts. Many of the fitness experts I interviewed agree that explosive exercises–like power cleans or squats–should be performed in the evening. “Doing that type of work in the morning is not as effective or potentially as safe as in the evening,” Miller says.

Con of Evening Exercise

Potential Sleep Disruption “Exercise, like any other stressor, increases cortisol levels. Cortisol revs your body up–raises blood pressure, increases alertness, etc,” says pharmacist Brandon Allen. “Exercising in the evening makes your cortisol spike at a time when your cortisol levels should be declining. This can interfere with sleep patterns.”

Again, while it’s good to keep these things in mind, we’ll let the words of life and wellness coach Danielle Faust be the last word: “Whatever time you can work out is the best time to work out.”

Find the energy to exercise after work

Stay hydrated

Drinking plenty of plain, still water is the first step to improving your energy levels after work. Dehydration can contribute to low energy levels as it causes a drop in blood pressure. This means that the amount of blood being directed to the brain is reduced, thus resulting in tiredness, fatigue and low energy, as well as issues such as poor concentration.

We generally need to drink around 1.5-2 litres of water daily, but if you are planning to do any exercise then you’ll need a little more. I’d recommend keeping a big bottle with you throughout the day. This will remind you to keep drinking, plus it will allow you to track just how much you’ve consumed.

Try Balance Mineral Drink

If we experience an afternoon slump at work then we are most likely to turn to coffee and biscuits for a little ‘pick-me-up’. Caffeine can, after all, increase adrenaline levels which makes the body feel more alert.

That being said, caffeine is not the best drink of choice at this time as it can linger in the body for 4-6 hours. This means that, if you have a coffee around 4pm, it will still be in your system when you head to bed at 10pm which could disrupt sleep. On top of this, caffeine is a diuretic meaning it’ll cause more frequent trips to the loo. This may lead to dehydration – a problem that we now know contributes to low energy levels.

To up your energy levels, and thus encourage a more productive exercise session after work, a natural energy drink may prove more beneficial than coffee. Energy drinks are often seen as being sugar-loaded and caffeine-rich but, with the rise of natural options, this doesn’t necessarily have to be the case.

Balance Mineral Drink, for example, contains a combination of vitamin D, calcium, zinc, potassium and magnesium to help reduce tiredness and fatigue. The presence of magnesium is, in part, what causes the drink to have this effect. Magnesium breaks down glucose from the food we eat into energy. This means that, if magnesium levels are low or deficient, then energy levels can suffer.

So, try Balance Mineral Drink in the afternoon so that you leave work feeling energised!

My Top Tip:

Pour one sachet of Balance Mineral Drink into a glass containing 150ml of water or milk and then stir well. The drink has a natural strawberry flavour so is both refreshing and tasty!

“This is just what I needed after the gym, I find those shakes too thick but this was very refreshing.”

Read what other people are saying about Balance Mineral Drink.

Eat a well-balanced lunch

With a hectic workload of meetings and deadlines, sometimes we end up snacking to get through the day, or we miss lunch altogether. Just as breakfast can see us through the morning, though, lunch can provide enough energy to keep us going until dinner time. This means it is very important to set aside some time to eat a proper meal.

Once you’ve established a good time to take your lunch, what you eat can help raise your energy levels further. Include plenty of carbohydrates such as wholegrain bread, brown rice, potatoes and pasta in your meal as these are a good source of energy.

High fibre, starchy carbohydrates are particularly helpful in fuelling activities such as running as they are swiftly broken down into glucose, which provides energy, and then absorbed into the blood stream.

Lunch box options:

  • Avocado, lettuce and tomato sandwich – an easy meal to prepare in the work canteen or, if you are organised, the night before.
  • Mexican Beanie Rice – this one can be made the night before and eaten cold. It goes nicely with tofu or cold chicken too.
  • Bombay Potato and Leek Soup – this is quite filling and a good one for the colder days. Pair with some big chunks of wholemeal bread or a sandwich of your choice.

Snack well

If you want to improve your energy levels it is best to avoid the temptation of biscuits and chocolate. These things cause energy levels to spike and then drop rapidly, meaning it’s unlikely you’ll be ready and raring to face a bit of exercise after work.

Foods that have a low glycaemic index such as oatcakes, fruit, homemade oat bars (watch the sugar content!) and vegetables make a much better snack at this time. The sugars from each are absorbed slowly, thus avoiding the peak and then crash in energy levels.

Avoid smoking

Smoking is known to affect energy levels because it reduces the amount of oxygen in the blood. It also restricts blood vessels, meaning that any oxygen that is present is unable to circulate efficiently.

As well as this, smoking can reduce sleep quality. This is because it is a stimulant, meaning it raises blood pressure and heart rate, thereby making you feel more alert. Also, cravings make you more likely to wake up at night, thus disrupting sleep further.

Therefore, if you are a smoker (this includes e-cigarettes and vaporisers), then your energy levels are likely to improve by giving up the habit. You can find advice about this from your GP, or take a look at the NHS website.

Get more iron

Iron deficiency can contribute to low energy levels and feelings of fatigue. This problem is particularly common amongst menstruating women as the mineral is lost through blood. Other groups that may be at risk of iron deficiency include pregnant women, those with a restricted diet and those on non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

If you are worried about iron deficiency, then there are lots of foods that contain iron such as wholegrains, beans, green leafy vegetables, nuts and dried fruits. Try to incorporate more of these into your diet and see if you energy levels improve.

Get to bed earlier

Finally, if you are struggling to exercise after work then you may benefit from getting to bed a little earlier. Adults need between 7-9 hours of sleep, so it may simply be the case that you are staying up too late!

If you struggle with sleep problems, or have a query relating to the topic, I’d recommend exploring our Sleep Hub. Here you will find information about the causes of sleep issues and how you can address them. With this information, and all of the tips listed above, you’ll soon have the energy to exercise after work!

7 Easy Ways to Have Energy After Work

Wise Bread Picks

If it’s a workday, chances are you hardly have an ounce energy left by quitting time. About 40% of workers report feeling fatigued at work on any given day. I’ve definitely been there; too little sleep, too much stress, and the feeling that you just can’t get enough done can wear you right down until all you can think about is sliding into bed, pulling the sheets over your head, and staying there…forever.

The irony is that that cycle only drags down your overall productivity, not to mention your health and happiness. Plus, there’s something just a little sad about spending all afternoon counting down to the end of the workday only to slog home, collapse onto the couch, and spend all evening watching other people doing fun and exciting things on reality TV. (See also: Beat Back the Zombies: 4 Ways to Avoid Sleep Deprivation)

Want more energy to enjoy your own time? Here are some things that have worked for me.

1. Turn Off Your Brain

When you feel exhausted, exercise seems like the most counterintuitive thing you can do, but it isn’t, especially if you have a desk job. Think about it. If you work at a computer, chances are the only muscles you use all day are the ones that type emails, answer the telephone, and turn you head to gaze longingly out the window. That means that even if you feel tired, what’s often really fatigued is your brain.

I try to get a run in after work. And while some days it feels like I barely have the energy to slip on my shoes, once I’m out the door, my body doesn’t feel tired at all. It isn’t long before the rest of me is ready to tackle a few more hours of the day, too. So turn off your brain, slip into jock mode, and do something that’ll get your blood pumping. It’ll energize you immediately, and also improve your health so that you have more energy all day. It may even help you sleep more soundly come bedtime.

2. Hit Reset

If you really are sleep deprived, a short nap can significantly improve your energy levels — and help you pay back some of the sleep debt you’ve been accumulating. I say a short nap because while it may be tempting to pass out for hours, that can leave you feeling like a zombie, not to mention disrupt the sleep you get at night. In other words, it’ll make you feel more tired.

So how long should you nap? A 1995 study by NASA and the National Transportation Safety Board found that a 26-minute nap was ideal for improving alertness among air-traffic controllers. For best results (and less fiddling with your alarm clock) aim for 20 to 30 minutes.

3. Have an Appetite for Energy

Blood sugar levels greatly affect energy levels. (Anyone who’s seen a seven-year-old’s birthday party knows that.) So, if your energy is flagging after work, chances are you haven’t fueled yourself properly during the day.

The best fuel comes from whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and protein, because they release energy more slowly into the bloodstream than, say, whatever’s beckoning from the vending machine. Eat a healthy breakfast, pack a lunch, and bring nutritious snacks to fend off an afternoon crash. If your blood sugar’s stable, your energy levels will be more stable, too. Studies show you’ll probably also make better decisions. One study of parole board members in the Israeli prison system found that men whose cases were heard after the board had eaten were significantly more likely to get parole. Yikes!

4. Tuck In Early

I’ve often had trouble sleeping, so I know about that weird thing that happens when you’re totally dead exhausted. Right around bed time, you get a surge of energy that keeps you up eating cereal and watching late-night TV until well past your bedtime. It’s kinda fun…until you wake up the next morning feeling (and looking) like you’ve aged at least 15 years.

Remember how your mom used to tell you to get to bed — NOW!? Give yourself the same tough love and set a bedtime that’s at least seven hours from your early morning wake-up call. Then, try to spend an hour or so beforehand winding down with a good book, a bath, or an episode of your favorite TV show. (Unless it’s on HBO. That stuff will keep you up all night.)

5. Skip the Caffeine High

Caffeine’s a crutch; you can limp along on it for quite a while (it got me through college), but it isn’t a solution. If you trade coffee for sleep for too long, eventually it’ll be a case of the lights are on and nobody’s home — your tired, bloodshot eyes will be open, but you’ll only be doing stupid things faster and with more energy. No need to cut caffeine out entirely though. It has some health benefits, and there’s some evidence that moderate caffeine intake can help you live longer. Plus, let’s face it. There will always be days when it’s what makes life worth living.

6. Be Good to Yourself

I tend to take on too much, saying yes to too many projects and then finding myself scrambling around trying to get it all done. It’s hard not to be exhausted when you put yourself in that position. There’s an old saying that you can sleep when you’re dead, but personally, I’d rather enjoy it. I’ve learned that if I want to do that, I have to remind myself that my to-do list is arbitrary and that sometimes, rest needs to be bumped to the top.

7. Consider the Cause

They say that sleep is a cure-all, but for everything that sleep can’t cure, there’s prescription medication. It’s important to consider that sometimes fatigue has a medical cause, such as iron deficiency, sleep apnea, or depression, among a long list of other things. If you think your exhaustion may be a sign of something more serious, go visit your doctor.

If you think all these suggestions seem simple, you’re right. They are simple. But that doesn’t make them easy. Changing habits is hard, even when we want to (and let’s face it, we often don’t). Of course, the other option is to continue staggering around like the walking dead. And let’s face it: Even that gets pretty tiring after a while. Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s almost my bedtime.

Where do you find the energy to get through the day (and then some)?

Here’s How To Re-Energize For Those Evening Workouts

What’s your best excuse for canceling a workout class last minute? Evening workouts are incredible for busting the stress that builds up throughout the day – something we realize once our body gets moving – but mustering the will to make it to the studio after work? That’s what requires real stamina.

Here are seven non-caffeinated ways we break out of that afternoon energy slump in time to pop that gym bag into the car (or onto the bike) and get going…

try Rhodiola. | This powerful adaptogen has the ability to reduce fatigue, enhance mental and physical endurance, and promote cognition. The secret is in this ancient root’s ability to oxygenate the blood. Take one or two liquid capsules (we love these from Gaia) or a small dose of the powder (here’s our fave) in water an hour or so before working out for a major boost that’ll make you feel energized without the jitters.

power up on Power Milk. | Power milk is what we call our thinnest superfood smoothies. A glass won’t make you feel overly full but you will feel substantially nourished. We recommend loading yours with clean protein, energizing cacao, adaptogens, and all the green powder your taste buds can handle. Learn how we make ours here.

sip on Bone Broth | Sipping on a cup of bone broth will offer your body a quick and clean dose of protein, vitamins and minerals for a non-caffeinated cup of energy. Bone broth is easy to digest, so it wont hold you back when you’re working out and all those minerals are deeply hydrating. Fresh bone broth is the best, but when you’re in a pinch this powdered version from Dr. Axe will do just fine.

Stay Hydrated. | Be sure to stay hydrated all day long. By the time you’re thirsty your body is working hard to compensate for what it lacks. Drinking tons of water throughout the day keeps energy up, muscles flexible and makes the likelihood of you actually making it to a class about ten-times higher.

Warm it Up. | If you’re feeling sluggish, do a very light and brief cardio sesh to get your blood pumping. This can be anything from foam rolling to rebounding. Still at work? Stretch at your desk, take a quick walk, pack it up and down a flight of stairs and plug in some tunes to start getting in the mood.

People Who Go Straight To The Gym After Work Deal With These 8 Struggles All The Time

Finding a workout routine that fits your busy schedule can be a tricky task, but once you get into a groove, it’s generally smooth sailing thereafter. And as long as you’re moving your body in a way that feels good, there’s really no right or wrong time to squeeze in your sweat sesh. Some people hit the gym before the sun comes up, while others go later on at night, but personally, I’ve always deeply admired people who go straight to the gym after work. That’s some real dedication right there, fam.

I mean, come on, after a long day of work, when you just spent eight or more hours fixing, like, 170 things that went wrong, the last thing you want to do is trek to the overcrowded gym and take on the treadmill. If you’re like me, then the only thing you feel like doing after you get out of work is wrapping yourself in the fuzziest of blankets and watching reruns of The Office until you’re sleepy enough to head over to your bed for the night.

But for people who hit the gym right after they clock out for the day, they never allow themselves to be led astray from their daily workouts by the tempting, sensual thoughts of their warm, cozy bed and their endless Netflix queue. Sure, it kind of sucks that you pretty much never see these people at your office happy hours, (no matter how hard you try to coerce them in your group text), but honestly, you can’t help but respect their dedication to their fitness routine.

People who go to the gym straight after work deal with these eight things literally all the time, but believe me, they never let these struggles distract them from the fact that their sweat sessions make them feel freaking amazing, day in and day out.

1. Having To Amp Yourself Up To Exercise After A Long Day

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It’s one thing to plan on hitting the gym after work, but actually talking yourself into sticking with that plan, and showing up for your sweat sesh? Well, that is an entirely different beast, friends.

People who go to the gym right after work are legit experts at showering themselves in positive affirmations and giving themselves motivational pep talks in order to get their booty over to the ~temple of gains~. Teach me your ways, people.

2. Accidentally Whacking People On The Subway With Your Gym Bag

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If you exercise right after work every day, it’s an unfortunate necessity to always bring a gym bag along with your usual work bag, packed with your comfiest leggings and your most supportive sports bra.

Despite doing this on the reg, though, it seems downright impossible to master the art of skillfully maneuvering between people on your way to work without giving a total stranger a “love tap” with your heavy duffle. Luckily, most people are super understanding. And for the grumpier commuters, you’ve learned that a genuine apology goes a long way.

3. The Struggle That Is Transitioning From Office To Workout Clothes

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Once you get to the gym, actually changing out of your office clothes can prove to be a bit of a struggle. It’s not until you find yourself tripping over your feet in the biggest bathroom stall you could find in the office that you wonder why the hell you thought it was a good idea to wear tights in the summer.

To avoid this struggle in the future, try finding some fashionable athleisure you can wear to your job and your workout. Trust me, nothing feels better than the combo of comfort and convenience.

4. The Obscene Crowds

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If you thought rush hour was only a thing for highways and subways, you’ve clearly never experienced rush hour at the gym. Seriously, WTF is this blasphemy? You show up to the gym thinking you’re the only one with enough dedication to stick to your post-work exercise plans, and yet, everyone and their mother feels the need to sweat it out at 6 p.m., too.

I guess the bright side is you start to recognize a few familiar faces over time, and it certainly doesn’t hurt to know someone trustworthy who can spot you when a workout calls for some assistance.

5. The Willpower It Takes To Turn Down Happy Hour Plans

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When the weather starts to warm up and all the rooftops bars in the city suddenly come alive at once, the group texts about after-work happy hour plans become more tempting than ever before.

It takes every ounce of self-control in your being to turn your phone on airplane mode and save the half-priced spicy margs for Friday. Once those feel-good endorphins start flowing, though, you’re glad you stuck to your guns.

6. Realizing You Forgot Your Headphones At Your Desk

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The day that pigs fly is the day that a workout without headphones will become enjoyable. Realizing you forgot your earbuds at work is high up there on the list of most frustrating feelings ever.

Fortunately, one of your rush-hour gym pals will likely have your back with an extra pair in their own gym bag. See, there really is a bright side to those huge crowds.

7. Or The Moment When You Realize You Forgot Your Phone Charger

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Realizing you only have 1 percent of battery left on your phone when you make it to the gym has to be one of the most disappointing feelings in the world. Seriously, how are you supposed to pump yourself up for the workout you’ve been dreading all day with a dead phone?

Portable chargers come in clutch for this struggle — or you could just kick it old-school and hope Law & Order: SVU is playing on the miniature TV atop your elliptical machine.

8. When The “Hanger” Hits You In The Middle Of Your Workout

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You tried to remind yourself to nom on a 3 p.m. snack so this wouldn’t happen, but you got so caught up in work that you totally forgot about the granola bars patiently waiting (and melting) at the bottom of your bag.

Now you’re at the gym, hangry AF, and your stomach is putting on a grumbly-rumbly show for the rush-hour crowd. Is it frowned upon to stuff your face in the middle of a packed gym? Asking for a friend.

8 Ways to Stop Skipping Your Post-Work Workout

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If your morning starts early and a midday workout isn’t an option, an evening workout might be the only thing that fits into your busy schedule. Getting into the groove of consistent nighttime workouts can prove to be tough for people who prefer to exercise in the morning; if you can relate, remember these tips to make sure you stick to your late-night workouts and have a better overall experience.

1. Pay in advance. It’s harder to bail on an evening workout when your hard-earned money has already been spent. This makes such a big difference-and is a major reason I’ve never skipped out on a SoulCycle class or a prebooked yoga session. Register ahead of time whenever possible. It’s one of the best ways to make sure you stay on course and commit to your workout.

2. Time meals right. Eating a big dinner and heading straight to a workout can zap your energy and lead to digestion issues. No matter what time of day you choose to exercise, make sure to plan your workout two to three hours after your meal. This might mean eating dinner at the office before you head to the gym or having a light post-workout meal ready to go once you get home. Try eating at different times to find that sweet spot that supports your workout performance.

3. Go straight from work. If you head straight home after a long day, you won’t be as likely to stick to your workout-some nights that couch looks too inviting! Instead of making a pit stop at home, prep all your workout clothes the night before and bring your gym bag with you to work. If you need to stop at home before your workout, don’t spend time sitting on the couch or catching up on calls. Drop your things, change clothes, and get moving.

4. Stay hydrated. Dehydration can lead to cramping, lack of energy, and a slew of other issues that can hinder your workout. Make sure you’re drinking water all day long at the office plus right before, during, and after your workout. Not only will this ensure the best workout possible, but you’ll also wake up the following morning feeling energized and ready to take on another busy day.

5. Pencil it in. Even with the best intentions, it’s easy to skip workouts, opt for other activities, and realize on Friday evening you haven’t worked out once all week. Treat your evening workout schedule like you would an important business meeting-it’s an event that’s set in stone. Write down your workouts in your calendar to help them stick and to prevent you from double-booking.

6. Go in with a plan. If your only option is working out late at night, chances are your schedule is pretty tight. Instead of wasting any precious time dawdling around the gym, show up with a plan in place. You can always head to a group fitness class or print out one of these challenging cardio routines, but remember: You can always get an effective sweat session in at home with all these video workouts.

7. Dress the part. When you love to exercise outdoors, it can be tough to drag yourself into the gym-just because you have to work out later doesn’t mean you can’t get outside! With that said, it’s important to be extra cautious with your routine and your workout wardrobe late at night. If you’ll be hitting the streets, stay safe with reflective gear, and while it might be tough, consider leaving your headphones at home so you’ll be more aware of your surroundings. Check out these other safety tips for outdoor nighttime workouts.

8. Have a reward ready. Knowing that there’s something fun ready for you after a workout will keep you on track. Think about how amazing it will feel to relax and recuperate or reconnect with friends after you’ve gotten a serious workout under your belt. Just be sure to plan things far enough out in the evening so you can kill that time with an awesome workout.

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Struggling to Get Back Into a Workout Routine? These 5 Strategies Could Help

Between work commitments, family obligations and social events, it may seem daunting — and downright impossible — to add anything else to your plate. As a result, people tend to sacrifice the one thing they might enjoy doing the least — exercise.

Perhaps it started with a busy week, and then one week turned into two and then before you knew it, you hadn’t visited the gym in a series of months. Whatever the culprit, there are ways to pull yourself out of a workout rut and create a lasting routine.

Here, health and wellness experts provide five strategies that will get you back on track.

Find your motivation, then talk to a doctor

The thing about fitness is, you have to want it for yourself. Finding the motivation to get back to the gym and get healthy must come from within, says Jonathan Leary, founder of Remedy Place, a social wellness club. And it’s not just about finding the motivation, but about having the right kind of motivation to get in shape. Forget external motivators like looking nice in an outfit and dig a little deeper, Leary says.

“Too often people focus on the common in terms of weight, or they have a health scare, or they want it for someone else,” says Cedric Bryant, president and chief science officer at the American Council on Exercise. “You have to start examining why. Ask, ‘why do I want to make, this switch?’ It really has to be focused on things that are really meaningful for you as the individual and finding your right why.”

Once you figure out why you want to get healthy, your first stop shouldn’t be at the gym. Rather, it should be at your doctor’s office, according to Karen Litzy, a physical therapist and spokesperson for the American Physical Therapy Association.

“It’s a good idea to see your physician or your physical therapist before going back to the gym,” she says. Your doctor will likely perform a quick evaluation of where you’re at in terms of strength, flexibility and cardiovascular health, she adds. In doing so, a doctor can ensure you’re healthy enough for physical activity and can guide you on how to remain safe at the gym.

“It’s a reassurance that everything is okay,” she says. “Getting that physical evaluation and allowing people to feel strong in their bodies is the first step.”

Take your time getting back into a routine

Just a short amount of time off from the gym can undo some of the health gains you’ve made, according to Bryant.

“A week of full inactivity is going to cause some detriment in your physical performance,” he says. A 2015 study published in the Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine, for example, found that taking a break from physical activity for just two weeks can result in a rather substantial reduction of muscle strength and mass — and it can take even longer to gain it back.

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In other words, if you were diligent about your routine a month or two ago, don’t expect to hop back into it right away like nothing has changed. Instead, health professionals suggest taking it one step at a time. “When reentering the gym, remember the point is to fix the body, not break it,” says Leary. “Really analyze each type of workout because some of them could increase your risk for injury.”

It’s about taking a metered approach, experts suggest, starting with just a few minutes a day of cardio, then working up to longer workouts, incorporating weights and even hiring a health coach or personal trainer. Ultimately, a healthy adult should be working their way toward 150 minutes of exercise a week, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

Don’t change everything at once

When getting back into a fitness routine, you may be tempted to overhaul your eating habits, too. Oftentimes, people tend to fixate on making too many changes at once, says Bryant. Instead, “focus on one thing at a time,” he says. “Focus on just trying to re-establish an activity habit. The reason why I tell people to focus on how they feel is that too often people are focused on the wrong metric.”

Just like those metered workouts, health professionals suggest slowly changing your nutrition patterns over time so you don’t feel overwhelmed and then give up out of frustration. But if you do want to make some changes to your diet, Leary says to start adding more water to your daily routine to ensure you’re hydrated as a first step.

“The more active you are, the more you sweat,” he says, so replenishing your water levels will ensure your body isn’t depleted of key minerals, and in turn, can help you recover faster.

Take a holistic approach to your workouts

Rather than logging a certain number of miles and then calling it a day, it’s crucial to start thinking about your workouts holistically — that includes your cool down, stretching and recovery, too, experts say.

“You want to be functional and pain-free,” Leary says. “Unless you are a professional athlete who has to be strong and powerful, your number one focus should be mobility and flexibility.”

A recovery routine is vital, says Leary. That should include daily stretching and adequate cool down time after workouts. And, if you can, try to incorporate regular massages or an occasional visit to a physical therapist to ensure every part of your body is working just the way it should, he adds. These tactics will help mitigate injury risk, so you won’t have to take weeks off from your workout routine again.

Redefine what exercise means

Perhaps the best news of all: you don’t necessarily have to join a gym or spend hours a day running outside to get a good workout. Rather, you can do it all in the comfort of your own home.

“Let’s say your schedule is packed, and you’ve got family responsibilities. Just find something you can do for five or 10 minutes,” says Bryant. “That’ll help reduce the amount of workout decline that you may experience.”

There are simple ways to start thinking outside the box when it comes to workouts, according to Bryant.

“Look into how you can incorporate more activity into your normal day,” he says, suggesting to avoid taking elevators and escalators when possible, and trying to log as many steps as you can each day. It could also be as simple as getting up and walking to a coworker’s desk to chat instead of sending them an email, or taking a five-minute break to stretch your legs, he adds.

“Think in terms of incorporating activity into your family life too,” Bryant suggests, whether that’s doing squats with your relatives during the commercials of television shows, taking family walks, or playing soccer with your kids rather than sitting on the sidelines. “Try to make moving your new mission,” he says.

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