Updated: May 4, 2019
I smile every time I write about #exercise because it is one of the greatest things you can do for both your #body, and #mind, yet not many like to do it. We all fall off that wagon from time to time, and have to start over from scratch. You would think it would get easier, but it never does. So what can we do to step up and #commit to our exercise routines?
We all have to start somewhere, so start small and work up! Often times when we are starting over we say things like, I'm going to go to the gym 3x a week, or I'm going to start walking everyday! These goals can lead to huge disappointments if we don't follow through, or if something unexpected comes up and sidetracks us. Disappointments like that can lower your motivation and morale to pick things back up.
Instead of starting where we want to be, start by just going for that walk, or going to the gym once a week. It's ok to start small! If you find the time to go more often, great! If not, that's ok because you are still hitting your goal, and doing exactly what you set out to do! We are our often our own biggest obstacle, so don't be too hard on yourself!
Keep It Simple!
Your routine doesn't need to be complicated. Just get started doing something instead of doing nothing. I am not going to give you an exercise routine, or a weekly plan, because this is about building a mindset for success. You can easily Google 'simple exercise routines' and come up with enough results to have a different exercise routine everyday for a year!
10-20 minutes once a week. Could you do more? Yes. Could you do things better? Sure. For right now, just do what you can do, and do it consistently. Be consistent first, then build from there.
Wouldn't it be great if every time you worked out you saw results? Me too! Unfortunately that only happens in movies. The reality is, sometimes it can take awhile to see those hard earned results in the mirror. Living in the age of instant gratification where we have come to expect everything instantly at the push of a button, or in the form of a pill, doesn't help either. We tend to get discouraged if the rewards don't come quickly enough. So... we need something to keep us motivated until then! Reward yourself with something nice, to celebrate your successes. You can start at 1 week intervals, then move to 1 month, then 3 month intervals.
For example, when I started on my path to make exercise a habit (again, after a nearly 6 year 'break'), my 1 week reward was "me time". Every weekend I would reward myself with time to do whatever I felt like. After 3 months I bought myself a new set of poi that I could use at the gym for cardio workouts. After that first 3 months I was well into a routine, and my weekly rewards became things like, a new water bottle, lifting gloves, running shoes, new clothes, etc. Next 3 month reward was a bike. 6 months in, I didn't need a weekly reward anymore as the results were enough, and my routine was pretty much built! So 12 months in, I went to Mexico!
Find what works for you! While hearing what works for myself, and others, can help you figure out things to try yourself, you need to find what is going to work for you! Play around with lots of ideas and remember to have fun! NOTE: This probably goes without saying but just in case.. do not reward yourself with food!
Make it Fun!
One of the biggest obstacles is the simple fact that we view the word 'exercise' as work! We even call our exercise routines 'work'outs! Let's break free of that mindset by making our routines fun! Music is a great way to enjoy your exercise routine. Fast, upbeat, energetic music for cardio, and slower, deep, intense music for more focus and attention. Integrating things you like to do is another way to bring fun into your routine.
Personally, I love spinning poi, it requires repetitive practice to get the moves down, then further practice to smooth out those moves. Some days I'll use my poi as my warm-up, other days I use it entirely as a cardio. Practice and exercise all wrapped into one!
Another great way to make things fun is to get a workout partner, or join a group. If you like your tech, Samsung, Fitbit, and other exercise trackers usually have communities and point based rewards for reaching your goals! This is also a great way to add some accountability as well!
Speaking a bit more about the tech side of things, active tech has exploded over the past few years. There is everything from apps for your phone, to wearables that all come with great tracking software that allow you to monitor your progress. This is a great way to tap into like minded communities, forums, and goal setting. I recommend tracking your progress with whatever tool works best for you. There is no better reward than being able to look back at past successes to show that you not only can do it, but that you have done it!
How about a walking desk? These office desks transform from sit down work stations into standing treadmills so you can really 'work'out!
Do What You Love!
Let's face it, while most modern gyms have state of the art equipment, and even offer group workout classes, some people just aren't 'gym people'. That's ok! There are a ton of things now to get you active. Yoga, swimming, tennis, racquetball, walking, jogging, pickleball, hiking, biking, and yes even catching Pokemon.
Recreational centers being much bigger than most gyms often offer a wider selection in the way of services, and classes if you find the need for variety.
Sport leagues are another great way to exercise, have fun, and meet new people. They range from competitive leagues, to people who just want to have fun. With everything from dodgeball to softball, and even bubble soccer (or 'zorbs') for a wacky good time!
Trampoline parks are quickly becoming the new cardio workout hot spots, not to mention a ton of fun.
Online groups like Meetup offer group activities such as biking, in-line skating, hiking, and definitely worth checking out!
The Personal Trainer!
Sometimes we just need someone to kick us in the butt! This is the 'put up or shut up' option. For the stubborn ones out there who feel the need to blow open their lock, instead of craft the key! Instructors are expensive! This is why in some cases, this approach works. There are several benefits to having an instructor. First is their knowledge. Knowledge about fitness, different exercises, routines, and equipment. They can give you exercise plans, show you exactly how to do them, and push you to give it your all. Second is accountability. In most cases when people have an appointment they usually keep it, especially when there is money on the line... your money.
Now, you may have noticed that I said this works in 'some' cases. Being such an extreme method to create motivation there are some drawbacks. As an example, money doesn't mean the same to everyone. Just because you paid for the service doesn't mean you will continue to use it. I know many people who pay for a gym membership every month and never go (I was one of those people...for years)! Another drawback is, your sole motivation is now money, and obligation driven. Once that no longer becomes the case, will you still go? Very unlikely unless you have dealt with the original motivational obstacle that drove you to this extreme measure in the first place. Now, I am not saying having a personal trainer is bad, in fact I think they are a great tool to get people started on an exercise routine, and get comfortable at the gym using the equipment. Just make sure they aren't your entire driving force to get you into the gym is all.
What works for me, won't likely work for you, just as what works for you, will likely only work for you. Motivation is as unique to the individual as their fingerprints. It is also one of the main reasons people come to see me. The above suggestions are merely the start to a change in mindset about exercise. In therapy we deal with core beliefs, where they came from, who do they belong to, and if they serve you or not. What drives you is unique to you, and you alone, therefore the solution is equally as unique.
I hope this helps get people on the right path to a change in heart, and mind when it comes to exercise, and building a routine that will last. If you found this post helpful, or would like me to continue to post about subjects like this, let me know in the comments! Don't forget to subscribe to my blog so you can be notified when I post new ones!