We all know that a maintaining a regular exercise regimen is important for our health.
And I’m sure we all have the best intentions of sticking to the plan we set for ourselves. But after a week or two of a new routine, how many of us actually stick with it long-term? Sure, we want to lose weight and be fit, but are we willing to put in the work? How do we not get distracted by everything else that happens in our lives, because we are all “busy” and have to “find the time”, right? How do we prevent ourselves from feeling overwhelmed by the thought of coming up with, committing to, and keeping up with an exercise routine so that we don’t just give up altogether and let it fall down on or off of our list of priorities altogether?
Below are 10 strategies to consider for your continued success in actually completing your workouts:
1) Create a detailed game-plan. How many days per week are you going to work out? For how long each session? What are you going to do for your workouts? These are all essential questions to ask so you can write out a plan and refer back to it throughout the week to check-in with yourself.
2) What time of day can you realistically commit to exercise on a regular basis? Some thrive on exercise to jump-start their day; it gets your metabolism going and you start off making a good choice for your health, which makes you likely to stay mindful of healthful choices throughout the rest of your day. And you get to have your evenings free! Others cringe at the thought of exercise in the morning, especially if it requires getting up that much earlier, and prefer an evening sweat session to let go of mental and emotional stresses from the work day and relax. Others can’t commit to a consistent time every day and fit it in when they can, whether morning, midday, or night. Consider what works best for your schedule, as the best time of day to work out is when you can actually do it and stick with it long-term!
3) Schedule your workout dates/times in your calendar/planner like you would a doctor appointment or work meeting. This helps you take your workout plans more seriously and think of them like you would any other appointment or meeting you prioritize. You are unlikely to cancel on yourself unless an emergency arises, similar to how you would treat other appointments and meetings in your life. BONUS: If you schedule your workouts into your smart phone calendar, Google, Outlook, etc., you can program a reminder for yourself 15 minutes, 30 minutes, an hour prior!
4) What is your back-up plan if you don’t get to your scheduled workout one day? Are you going to make it up on another day of the week? Add it onto another workout session you have planned? If your workout takes place at a gym or a studio, do you have resources at home you can turn to at a moment’s notice, such as workout videos you can do in your living room? Will you go for a walk/jog/run outside? If you travel for work, are there workouts you can do online from your computer, smart phone, or tablet in your hotel room? Is there a fitness facility onsite or nearby with cardio machines and/or weight equipment? Create a Plan B in case Plan A doesn’t work out for whatever reason. This helps keep you accountable to yourself for any missed workouts.
5) Have your workout outfit, shoes, and equipment (if applicable) set out and ready to go the night before (for a morning workout) or the morning of (for a midday or evening workout). Have plans to work out in the evening after work? Put your workout bag in the trunk of your car and go straight from work to your workout. If you stop off at home first, you may be tempted to plop on the couch, get comfortable, and not make it to your planned sweat session. If you need to go home for some reason after work and before your workout, set your attire out in advance so you can quickly change into your workout clothes when you walk in the door. Is your workout in your living room or outside on your own? Do it soon after you get home to prevent you from getting distracted and letting time pass you by so before you know it, it’s dinnertime and you didn’t get to your workout.
6) Keep an exercise log. Document for each workout day the type of exercise (i.e. steady state cardio, interval training, the name of the class you took), the duration, and any applicable notes (i.e. was able to perform 10 push-ups above the knees, jogged for 2 minutes and walked for 30 seconds for intervals, etc). This workout data is what you can reflect upon at the end of each week to visually see your progress (or not) so you can readjust your game plan as needed.
7) While some prefer to work out alone, my life as a fitness trainer thrives upon working with others! A common comment I hear from my students is that working out in a group of like-minded people who also care about pursuing their health and fitness goals, coupled with working with me as their instructor, is motivating, keeps them going, and makes them much more likely to exercise! I have a couple of ladies in my current bootcamp program session who are neighbors and meet up with each other regularly for walks and at-home video workouts I provide; they encourage one another to stick to their routine by committing to doing it together! I remember meeting a friend at a gym once per week for 6:00 a.m. Yoga classes for a period of time; even if I woke up wanting to stay in bed longer and skip out on class, I’d still manage to get myself up and go, partially because I didn’t want to let her down by not showing up! Having a workout buddy or group is a great way to increase the likelihood that you’ll follow through with your scheduled workouts, especially when you don’t initially feel like it and are tempted to back out.
8) Recognize when you are trying to make excuses for yourself to not work out and counter that by thinking about how engaging in your workout on a particular day is a small step to support the larger goal(s) you are working toward; not completing that workout could set you a small step away from reaching your goal(s). Also, visualize how you will feel after you complete your workout. I love this quote: “I regret that workout – Said no one ever”! With this being said, if you are feeling under the weather or your muscles are very sore from a recent workout, your body may be telling you it’s time to rest and recover so you can return to your regular workout regimen sooner and perform optimally in your near-future workout sessions, so listen to your body and give it what it needs for your benefit!
9) Choose a variety of activities you enjoy to comprise your workout plan. This not only increases the likelihood you’ll stick to it, but varying your exercise types allows you to cross-train, working different muscle groups and keeping you interested/preventing boredom. Listening to music you enjoy while you sweat can also be a motivational tool to keep you engaged and going! You may even find yourself looking forward to your workouts more when you will be performing activities and listening to music you like!
10) Reward yourself with non-food-related items, like a pedicure or massage, when you stick to your plan for a certain period of time (i.e. 1 week or 1 month) and meet certain milestones. For example, if your goal is to lose 1 pound per week and your game plan to get there includes 5, 30-45-minute moderate-to-high intensity workout sessions per week, acknowledge your accomplishment when you earn it!
I hope this helps as a starting point! Please feel free to reach out to me to continue the discussion. I would love the opportunity to help support you in pursuing your health and fitness goals and keep you accountable to your game plan (which we can come up with together)!
Have an idea that has worked for you personally? Feel free to share below in the comments!