Working out. Now you’re either cringing as you read that word or you’re feeling that little twinge of guilt because you know you need to hit the gym but you just can’t seem to find the motivation to get in there. For years I felt the same way; I knew I had to do something as the pounds from pregnancy, breastfeeding and self neglect kept adding on but I could not find a way to workout and make it stick. Would you believe that I’ve somehow found the motivation to stick to a workout routine for a year and a half? I have and I want to share with you a few of my tips for how I’ve made exercise a habit.
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5 Ways to Make Exercise a Habit
Make exercise a habit by finding something you love to do.
This seems like it’s a no-brainer but it took me years to figure out how important it was for me to enjoy the workout that I was doing. I tried Beachbody, Jillian Michaels, The Burn, Bikini Body Mommy, running, walking, and the list could go on and on. None of those workouts kept me motivated to make them a habit. I dreaded doing every single one. I found every single excuse in the book to not do them and in doing that I realized that there was one thing that I loved about working out and that was working out with people. I do enjoy working out when it becomes my social activity. Running, walking, bootcamp, whatever it is, if there are people there that I can commiserate with I love what I’m doing. I want you to think about a time you actually enjoyed working out. What were you doing? What did you like about the activity? What was the surrounding like?
Make exercise a habit by not putting an expiration date on it.
You get sucked into a 21 day challenge or maybe you’re training for a race, what happens when it’s all done? I know when I finish a challenge or training period the way I celebrate is by taking a week off…or two…or three. You get what I’m trying to say, right? Being active should be part of your routine, it should be part of your lifestyle. The gym I go to does 6-week team challenges three times a year. I love the focus and drive that I have during a challenge but you know what? My focus and drive shouldn’t end at the end of those six weeks. I stay true to my time and place by making an appointment and staying committed.
Make exercise a habit by working out in the morning.
There are times when this may not work for you but the number one habit that’s benefited me the most in creating a workout habit has been to workout early in the morning. I get it out of the way and I don’t feel like I have something hanging over my head. Plus, working out in the morning makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something and those extra, natural endorphins are like sweet candy for my sometimes depressed mind. How many times do you get to the end of the day and you want to workout but at the same time you absolutely don’t want to workout. Just get it over with, that’s what I say!
Find your fitness community.
We weren’t meant to do life alone and the same thing can be said of working out. When you find your people, your fitness community, working out with them makes it that much easier. When I miss a day at my gym I know that someone will reach out to me whether it’s one of the trainers or one of my friends. There’s something so bonding about sweating and working hard together that just really strengthens relationships. You see each other at your worst, bleary eyed, no make up, just walked out of bed and pushing yourself physically until you can’t anymore. If that doesn’t bring you together with someone I don’t know what will.
Don’t compare what works for you to what Jane Doe is touting on social media.
I tried so hard to be dedicated to working out at home because my husband did and he can excel at it. Then I would look on Facebook and see people’s sweaty selfie, especially my friends who were heavily involved in Beachbody, and their home gyms. I just could not figure out why it worked for them but I hated working out at home. Then I’d look at my friends who were runners. They’d write lengthy posts about their long runs, how it would make them feel alive and so at peace; it was their “me” time and lucky for them they loved it. I tried running by myself and I hated it. I just didn’t like spending an hour or more all alone, sweating, heavily breathing and counting down the minutes or miles until it was done. You know what though? That’s what works for some people and that’s great. I just know that for me, I have be in a community, doing a group workout. I thrive in that kind of environment and it’s what keeps me coming back.
How do you figure out what kind of workout you should do?
You just need to try. Try it all. Pick up running or walking and make a commitment to do it for a half hour five days a week. If you like group workouts find a gym that offers a free trial so you can try a few of the classes. Think outside of the box if you find that the thought of traditional workouts makes you want to gauge your eyes out. Ask your friends who are already working out what they’re doing. What do they like about it? Then ask yourself if that’s something you think you’d like to do. Give it a try and if you hate it, that’s okay, move on to the next thing.
How many days a week should you workout?
The World Health Organization has a few guidelines and list them as,
- Adults aged 18–64 should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week or do at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity.
- Aerobic activity should be performed in bouts of at least 10 minutes duration.
- For additional health benefits, adults should increase their moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity to 300 minutes per week, or engage in 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity per week, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity.
- Muscle-strengthening activities should be done involving major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week.
Start out small with whatever you end up doing. Remember this isn’t a get fit fast kind of thing that you’re doing. It’s about a lifestyle so ease into whatever workout routine you end up doing. If you go balls to the wall and end up too sore then you’ll either give up or you’ll get hurt. That would defeat the purpose of everything. If you’re working out on your own at home I recommend walking daily with a friend. If you want to try out a gym that has classes, ask for a recommendation on Facebook and see what your friends say.
Make exercise a habit by being kind to yourself when you mess up.
Life is too short to beat yourself up. Do yourself a favor and don’t sweat the small stuff. Have a marathon perspective in mind instead of a sprinter’s mindset. Celebrate the little victories, like the first month you work out three to five times a week without skipping. Invest in some fun fitness apparel, cute clothes make everything fabulous, right? Most of all be kind to yourself and the changes you’re making.
Bert Anderson is a blogger and social media manager mom of three living outside of the Twin Cities in Minnesota. She’s the author behind the blog First Time Mom, where she honestly chronicles the peaks and valleys of parenting. Even though she has more than one child, Bert maintains that whether you have one child or 19, there’s a first time for everything. She’s a lover of coffee, conversations, pop culture, healthy living and fitness.