It’s that time of year where lots of people are starting a new exercise routine and regular exercisers (especially those that exercise outdoors) might find it harder to stick to their routines. And that’s just at some point even the most dedicated exerciser has a hard time sticking to their routine, sometimes we don’t even want to do it at all! If this is you, new year or not, you’ll want to give yourself a time period to make the adjustment rather than just one try. This gives you the opportunity to revaluate your approach and really make it work. At first you might think you’re failing but you’re actually just learning what will really work for you. So here are my top tips for actually sticking with an exercise routines long term.
Make space for it
This isn’t the same as making time, not exactly anyway. For example I can have a hard time making space in my life to get running because of my other responsibilities. This spring I was still doing some teaching and those students have exams. I had to work around my employee’s second job schedule and honey needed my help since he was unexpectedly on his own. Plus you know cooking, cleaning and my work. I was having a hard time getting my training in and the only way to make space in my life to work out was to give myself permission to run from work.
This could mean rescheduling your work or private life a little. Asking for help from someone or hiring some. Basically you need to make working out important to you in theory and in practice. If it always is behind, work, family, keeping a perfect home, seeing every practice, keeping up on your favorite shows and weekly girls night outs then you’ll probably never get to working out. One tip is to track everything you do for a week, categorize it and decide where working out fits in. In other words what priorities can be moved to make space for exercise in your life.
The next step is to make a pretty firm schedule of when you’re going to get your work out in. For the first few months it needs to be more firm than just Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Like before work or after? Here’s the thing though you might also have to be super flexible too. Even if you’re heading to the 24 hour gym to work out there is still going to be bad weather and last minute things that come up. If like me, you plan to exercise outside, you have to be really, really flexible. Sure you can go for a run in freezing rain but realistically are you going to? I know I’m not! I find it helpful to look at the forecast for the week when planning to exercise outdoors in the colder seasons and to schedule my workouts with that in mind.
Train for something
Signing up and training for a specific event builds a lot of motivation into our workouts. It’s hard to say why exactly whether it’s the date on the calendar, the public space or the fact that you shelled out a few bucks but having a specific event to look forward to gets us out there training in the meantime. It doesn’t have to be race in the traditional sense it might not even be prudent to attend a big race in public at the moment. It could be a virtual race, an ongoing virtual challenge or even to be able to preform a certain feat by a certain date. I love these challenges from the conquer for example and they are pretty darn cost effective! Basically it’s just a form of goal setting after all and who doesn’t love a medal when you reach your goal?
Find a friend
Working out with someone can be great for motivation. Even though I like solo exercise I was least likely to skip a workout when I was walking 5 days a week with my friend in university. Ditto for not putting off a run when I was doing c25k with the parental units. This could take a lot of forms in regular times like fitness classes, group runs or rides or just fitness dates. But these days there are still a lot of options. You could hire an online accountability coach, a zoom workout buddy or even join a free accountability group and find a buddy. Or… convince someone in your bubble to join you. Would your kids or partner like to join you on your weekly work outs?
Write down your why’s
For most of us our day to day lives are busy with lots of little things that can keep our minds off of more important things. It’s easy to think that catching up on the laundry is more important when it’s currently taking up 87% of the living room than keeping that promise to get healthier to yourself. In one of those moments where you know exactly why it’s worth it to you to stick to a fitness routine. Filling out this printable might be really helpful for you. Your goal might be to alleviate underlying health conditions, have more energy, feel more confident in your body or even just look a little better than you do now. The act of thinking about it carefully and writing down your personal motivation really helps to make it more important to you. Once you have that very thoughtful list compiled put it in the right place. I don’t love the idea of putting it on the bathroom mirror personally but if that’s your perfect place go for it. For me the perfect place would be somewhere I would see it regularly but not necessarily everyday. So maybe where I keep the toilet paper or cleaning supplies.
Spend some money
Last but not least if you spend a few bucks you can get a lot of these points covered at once. You can be getting a built in schedule, workout buddy and the added bonus of having some financial skin in the game. A lot of us have a hard time putting value on things that don’t directly cost money. But we tend to automatically assign value to something that costs money. You can hack this trait by just spending some money to get fit. You could (usually) sign up for a class, hire a personal trainer, a coach or even subscribe to an app. But if you’re really struggling to keep to your simple and realistic fitness plan put some cash on the line.
Arguably the most common change people aim to make is to get healthy and fit but it’s one of the hardest things to do. I think going into it you have to have the view that it takes time (at least 6 months) and that your first attempt probably won’t work perfectly. Just like quitting smoking or drinking we like to think of getting fit as a flipping the switch type change. In reality sticking to a fitness regime is more of a process than you might think. You try something, learn something and then reframe your approach over and over again. What helps you stick to your fitness routine? Leave it in the comments below!
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