Reprinted with permission of Sportzwire

For far too long, we have believed that pleasure is something to be justified or earned. Pleasure, we are convinced, is only what we can allow ourselves to experience after we've lost weight, achieved a fitness goal, or competed and won.

"So many people approach their workout as though it were an unpleasant chore. Sometimes it's thought of as something that is to be endured, not enjoyed," explains personal trainer Tina Riege, who has spent the last 10 years helping her clients not only get in shape but also grow to love the journey taken to health and fitness. "[You] need to have a good time when you work out. It's vital if you want to stick with and succeed at a program." The secret to a great workout is to take away boredom and make the experience interesting and satisfying.

"Our state of mind can never be kept a secret," says Riege. "It's constantly reflected throughout the body. Frustrations about the past and worries about the future manifest themselves in muscle tension. The best way to deal with life stresses is to live in the moment. There's no better, safer, more emotionally secure time to live in the moment than during your workout."

While it takes practice, living in the moment brings a new vitality to a workout program. Paying attention to your mind, body, and environment creates a new appreciation for the process of transformation you have devoted yourself to. Your workout is a time for you to escape. Give yourself permission to give love and nurturing back to the person who deserves it the most--yourself.

  • Consider taking your workout as seriously as other areas of your life, such as your job or relationships.

  • Consider taking the focus off instant results and think about what changes you need to make to ensure that your workouts are more enjoyable.

  • Consider making your workouts something integral rather than treating them as though they were a separate part of your life.

Says Riege, "There are three steps necessary to prepare for your healthy escape. First, have a regular place to work out. Being in familiar surroundings you enjoy will help you relax and concentrate. Second, find comfortable clothes you will wear only for your workouts. It's the same as using china on special occasions. The more meaning you put into the experience, the more you'll gain from it. And finally, have all the equipment you may need ready to use so you won't have to be interrupted during your workout."

Rather than rushing into a workout and then spending most of the time diverting your attention from the activity by watching TV, listening to music, or reading, Riege suggests being open to the idea of communicating with your body instead.

Start your workout by wakening the body with a simple breathing exercise. Sit on a chair or the floor with your spine straight. Close your eyes and rest your left hand on your lap. Place the index and middle fingers from your right hand between your eyebrows. Close your right nostril with your thumb. Inhale through your left nostril four counts. Then close your left nostril with the last two fingers and hold both nostrils closed for 16 counts. Release your thumb to open your right nostril and exhale to the count of eight. Inhale through the right nostril four counts. Once again, close both nostrils and hold your breath for 16 counts. Finally, open the left nostril and exhale for eight. Repeat twice more.

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