If you need some motivation to keep exercising, a little pre-planning can go a long way.
Are you struggling to maintain a healthy exercise habit?
It’s pretty easy to start exercising or eating healthy, but sticking with it in the long term is a much more difficult task. You get busy. You’re too sore. Life happens. Sooner or later, the excuses start to pile up. You end up skipping a few days. You’ll skip a week — maybe even a few weeks — and you’re back at square one feeling defeated before you know it. It’s a vicious cycle.
With a slight change of your mindset, some simple planning and a little motivation, you can finally start and keep a consistent workout schedule for good. Here are some tips on how to get started and maintain your new, consistent exercise routine.
CREATE THE ROUTINE
One of the best ways to start any kind of habit is to create a routine around whatever it is you want to start doing. Working out is no different.
For example, maybe you want to work out first thing in the morning before you go to work every weekday. You might create a routine where you get up, eat a small breakfast while listening to your favorite podcast, go work out, shower and then commute to work.
The idea is to get your mind and body so used to including a workout in your morning (or whichever time of day you’d like to work out) routine that you no longer have to think about it. It should just come naturally to you.
PUT IT ON THE CALENDAR
Another way to make sure your workouts are ingrained in your schedule is to simply put them in it, just like you would for any other appointment.
Schedule time in your calendar every week for your exercise. Make this time non-negotiable and expressly for you. If a potential conflict comes up, try saying something like “I’m sorry, but I have plans” or “Thanks for thinking of me! I’d love to do this another time.” If you must make a change, reschedule your workout time for another day that week and stick to it. Treat your exercise appointments like any other essential appointments you can’t miss and remember: you are your own boss.
COMMIT FOR 30 DAYS
Most of us have heard it takes anywhere from 21-30 days to build a habit that sticks. The key is to commit to the habit you want to create — such as working out four times a week — and give yourself a “30-day trial” of doing that habit consistently. Tell yourself that, if you want to, you can go back to your old habits at the end of your 30 days.
At the end of those 30 days, make an assessment. Do you feel stronger? More confident? More energized? More fit? My guess is that you’ll decide you prefer the way you feel after working out consistently and will not want to return to how you were beforehand. If that’s the case, congratulations — you’ve just created a workout habit.
When you first start working out on a regular basis, it’s never a good idea to commit to six days a week of hardcore workouts. Why? Because you’ll be sore, exhausted, burnt out and possibly even injured before you know it.
A better tactic is to start small. Try out two to three exercise days a week for a few weeks to a few months. Only then, when you’ve stuck with the workouts for a while and feel like you’re motivated to do more, should you push yourself to increase ether frequency or intensity of your workouts. Baby steps now equal massive success in the long term.
DON’T MAKE EXCUSES
Just don’t make excuses.
Are you traveling? You can still work out, even if all you have is a hotel room. Are you tired? Exercise will boost your energy, so try 10 minutes of movement and see if it gives you a little lift. You are the secret to accomplishing everything on your to-do list. Instead of finding reasons you can’t exercise, start finding reasons you can. Stop with the excuses and start with the exercise. You’ll thank yourself for it.
No matter how you go about it, the only way to really, truly keep a consistent workout schedule and establish exercise as a lifelong habit is to start. Stop waiting — start doing. You are worth committing to. Keep challenging yourself to be good to you.
And don’t quit. Never quit.
Mike Gartz is a personal trainer who owns I Hate My Trainer at 117 E. Reynolds St. Plant City.