How to Stick to Your Workouts
Raise your hand if "get in shape", "work out more", or "join a gym" has ever made your New Year's resolution list? I know it has for me, and I know it has for a lot of other people based on how crazy the gym gets in January. But there are some pretty depressing stats about New Year's resolutions, like only about 8% of people actually stick to them. 8%?! Yikes. So how can you beat these odds and actually stick to (or get back on track with) your workout routine?
Let's first acknowledge why it's so hard to stay consistent in the first place:
- Your job (being an adult).
- Taking care of kids and family (being an adult).
- No energy because of points 1 and 2 (being an adult).
- You don't know what to do once you get to the gym (requires planning and that's tiring).
- It's uncomfortable, especially at first (being sore sucks, let's be real).
- Happy hour usually sounds more fun (adult problems).
- It requires you to do more laundry (adult-ing is hard).
- There are only so many hours in the day (you can't do it all).
- The gym is intimidating (why voluntarily embarrass yourself).
- It can get expensive (hello $32 a class...).
This list could go on, but are you seeing the pattern here? Being an adult requires daily decision making on how to spend your time, and we are constantly re-prioritizing what is and isn't important for that day. Unfortunately, despite our best efforts or resolutions, the gym is usually one of the first things on the chopping block because our paychecks, kids, and social well-being don't directly depend on it.
It also tends to get shoved aside because it's not a habit and we are relying on motivation to keep us on track. The problem with motivation is that it's RARELY available when you really need it. And it's not because you don't care enough, or that there is something wrong with you because you don't "feel" like doing it, it's just the rub with motivation, it fails us most of the time.
So instead of thinking of working out as a lifestyle choice that you'll maybe someday love and incorporate consistently, instead put it in the same category as brushing your teeth. It's something that you need to do to look and feel your best, even though you don't always WANT to do it (anyone else avoid going to bed sometimes because you don't feel like brushing your teeth??).
Here are 12 tips to help you build your habit and stay on track:
- Work out at the same time every day. And this does not have to be in the morning or night either. Experiment with what time of day works best for you and stick to it. I've actually found for myself, that early afternoon is best (this might also require some negotiation with your boss).
- Pick workouts that you enjoy. I hate spin, so I rarely do it, there are just other ways to get my cardio in. I suggest you do the same.
- Lay out your workout clothes. I'm sure you've heard this one before, but it really works. The less thinking you need to do in the morning the better.
- Do it for you. We are constantly bombarded with different images and ideas for what healthy should look like. Pick and choose what resonates with you, no need to force something if you just don't enjoy it.
- Buy new workout clothes. There is nothing more motivating than new sneakers or yoga pants, and usually we wait about a month or 6 too long to replace our old stuff anyway. So do yourself a favor and replace something.
- Sign up for a race. Committing to a future goal is one of the best ways to stay on track. Even if it just means signing up for a 5k, the race will help provide some much needed motivation.
- Set a goal and reward yourself monthly. This can be anything from a smoothie to a new outfit. Make sure your goal is something that you can measure and track (like "work out 4x per week" as opposed to "work out more"), and be realistic with yourself.
- Hire a trainer. Paying someone else is the best form of accountability! And I'm not just saying this because I'm a trainer... Another major benefit of having professional assistance, is that you get personalized programming and guidance, and are much more likely to push your limits. If 1-on-1 training is not quite in your budget, try a class and take advantage of someone else telling you what to do.
- Schedule your workouts. As in put them in your calendar as an appointment that you can't miss. Make sure to honor it!
- Get a workout buddy. Knowing there is someone waiting for you at the gym is very motivating, and usually between the 2 of you, one of you is feeling more motivated and can lift the mood for the other.
- Try new things, mix it up occasionally. It's very easy to get stuck in a rut, or do the same dumbbell workout over and over again. Try taking a class that is outside your comfort zone. It's fun to mix it up, and variety can be your best friend in losing weight and burning fat.
- Go even if you don't feel like it. You don't have to feel like crushing weights to go crush weights, and the reality for most of us is that you won't FEEL like working out every single day. And that's ok, it's normal actually, but the key is pushing through that 5-minute temper tantrum you wanna through in your head, and getting your butt to the gym anyway. Your future self will thank you for it!
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