Making Exercise A Habit
Exercise— some people love it & some people hate it. What we can all agree on is that exercise is ridiculously beneficial, physically, mentally, & emotionally.
I’ve come up with 6 tips that have helped me make exercise a habit, and continue to help me when I get out of the swing of things or need another boost!
1. Have Your Clothes Ready
I am one of those people who LOVES to workout in the morning. I like to get up have a cup of coffee, some water, and hit the gym (or trail depending on my day). I hate exercising with food in my tummy, because I am prone to cramps so it just causes all sorts of problems. However, I don’t really have time in my schedule these days to allow myself to work out in the mornings (except on the weekends).
Because of this, I have to exercise after work. What I found helps me the most is packing my clothes with me to the office, changing before I leave work, and driving straight to the gym without stopping home, etc. I’ve found that when I do this I tend to not make any excuse. In the past if I have gone home first to change I might eat a snack if I’m hungry and then decide that I don’t want to work out because I’m too full. Or I’ll put off going for 15 minutes, which turns into an hour, which turns into tomorrow. Maybe I get home and I just feel tired and don’t want to leave the house again. Excuse, excuse, excuse, & so on.
When I had to make the switch from morning workouts to late afternoon/early evening workouts this small change helped me tremendously! Putting on my workout clothes prior to leaving the office helped me get into my exercise zone. On the drive home I was conscious of drinking more water and being in my clothes kept reinforcing the fact that I was headed to the gym. By doing this I went to the gym everyday I had planned, with a few rare exceptions of course, but I definitely stuck to my goals.
If you are struggling to get yourself into the gym after work, school, or whenever… I’ve found that packing your clothes with you & changing into them before you hit the gym really goes a long way! It is such a simply and effective way to encourage yourself a little bit more.
2. Don’t Compare Yourself to Others
This one is the hardest, because comparing yourself to others comes so easily, almost naturally to most people. No matter where you are in your fitness journey, someone else is always going to be behind you & someone is always going to be more far along than you. Comparing yourself to the person next to you at the weight rack or on the treadmill isn’t going to get you anywhere in the long run (no pun intended).
I have run half marathons and lifted heavy weights, but that doesn’t mean that every time I go for a run I’m racking up 13.1 miles or always lifting the most weight possible. The point is that no one is ever going to know how fit you are or aren’t, except for you.
I have found that if you are going to compare yourself, it is sometimes best to compare yourself to yourself. How did you do last workout and how can you improve for next time? Can you run faster than you did during this mile than your previous one? In my experience, I am the best person to compare myself to and tend to push myself, in positive ways when I am competing against myself.
3. Time Doesn’t Matter
This one is so important (to me) & so true! I feel like most of think that if we don’t go to the gym for 30 minutes or an hour, we haven’t gotten a good workout in. This just isn’t true. While completing your full goals, whether that be 30 minutes, 45, an hour, etc. is definitely something we should strive for, sometimes just going is all we need.
Over the past few weeks I’ve been striving to get back into my exercise routine. Prior to the holidays, I was exercising 5-7 times a week and usually for 45 minutes to an hour and a half. I was running faster, lifting heavier weights, overall feeling quite fit and healthy. However, between being sick for over a month, and Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Years, my workout routine definitely got disrupted. Now I am back at it!
The other day I went to the gym for 15 minutes. I didn’t do that much. In fact, most of the time I was sipping on my water. But you know what, I went and I did do something. And then the next day, I went again. The point I am trying to make is even when you don’t want to go rather than saying, oh I’m tired or sore or I have to be somewhere in an hour (insert whatever excuse/reason) so I can’t get my full workout in… maybe just go and if you only have 10 minutes, then that is all you can do, but you did do something.
What you’ll start to see is that those small increments of time add up, and soon you find yourself keep coming back, and the time will slowly start to increase, until you hit your goal.
4. Get Outside
This is one of those tips that is so easy, because a lot of time we find excuses to not exercise… a common one I hear a lot is that we don’t have a gym membership or we can’t afford one. Cue nature! The great thing about exercising outside is that it is absolutely free, open at all hours, available to anyone, and there is a lot you can do!
I am lucky to live in Colorado, where the number of outdoor activities I want to partake in goes on and on. Often times when I am feeling in a rut I will go hiking. I love hiking because it is a form of exercise, but for me it never feels like it. I absolutely love being outdoors and in nature and when I hike, even if I am going straight up for over a mile, it feels somewhat easy. Seeing all the trees, feeling the breeze, hearing the sounds of nature– all of it is absolutely wonderful.
Going for a bike ride or taking a jog through your local neighborhood or park can also be a great way to jump-start your fitness habits and can feel more like a fun experience rather than putting in lots of work.
I absolutely adore the gym and being in that atmosphere, but sometimes it can be a little depressing or overwhelming and when it gets like that I always find myself back outdoors.
5. Go Everyday
This one kind of goes hand-in-hand with “time doesn’t matter”, but for me, if I aim to go to the gym every single day, I’ll probably actually go between 4-5 times a week, which is perfect. The thing is, life happens. Maybe you oversleep, maybe you are too tired after work, maybe a friend invites you out last minute, whatever it may be, there will be times when you planned on going to the gym, but something came up and you couldn’t go.
In the past when I have tried to create a schedule with rigid days, I tend to not succeed. Instead, if I just plan and make an effort to work out every single day, I have found more often than not that I hit my goal of 5 times a week and sometimes work out even more. This also is doesn’t make me feel like I’m not getting in a good sweat if I only go for 15 or 20 minutes sometimes.
6. Remember Why You Are Doing This
There are a variety of reasons as to why people choose to exercise. Sometimes it is for something very physical, maybe summer is coming and you want to lose 5lbs to feel better in your swimsuit. Sometimes it is for health reasons, whether those be emotional, physical, or mental. Maybe you really need to lose a large amount of weight, or are just looking to find a new hobby.
Whatever you reason for exercising is, don’t forget it. Because there will come days when you are too sore to move, there will be the days when you don’t think you can go anymore, there will be the days when you skip the gym over and over again until it feels too hard to step your foot back in there. Don’t forget why you are there, why you are putting in the work. Write it on a sticky note, say it out loud, tell a friend– whatever you need to do, to keep your focus in the forefront of your mind, do it.
Once exercise becomes part of your daily life, you won’t need tips & tricks to get you sweating. But, until that time comes take note! Let me know your thoughts on these tips and share what some of your exercise tips are in the comments below!
Also, I do want to point out that I am in no way a professional when it comes to health/fitness, these are tips that have worked for me in the past and things that I have wanted to share with others to help them get in the swing of a stable fitness routine.
Cheers & stay chic!