If getting active, eating well and staying healthy were easy, everyone would do it… but not everyone does…
For me, having a regular fitness routine is natural, but if you’re struggling for making time for what’s important to you (i.e. your health) keep reading. Being active doesn’t mean killing yourself in the gym 6 days a week; fitness is also a regular walk, swim, yoga or pilates routine. If you’re just getting started with fitness, don’t make “gym freaks” your idol; at the other extreme, some of these people you see in the gym everyday have an addiction with being fit, we don’t want that either. Balance is the key.
The first thing that stands out in a discussion with someone who can’t come round to establishing a fitness routine is that they have “a problem” that always gets in the way (this can be stress, a busy job, young children and a working spouse, a crazy boss, chaotic schedule at work with no control over it and much more). Yes, this is a real challenge, but also the excuse for not committing time to your health. What I want to say is that whereas this is a barrier that you need to break down in order to be able to get active, there are people with similar challenges who do make it when it comes to keeping the date with their “fitness hours” during the workweek. There you go, I nailed this right right from the start.
Alright, so how can you break your mental barriers and move your body more often? Here are my tips:
1. Schedule your workout time into your calendar for the week. A good day to do this is Sunday, but it can be any other time of the week if it suits you. Make sure you do this, especially in the beginning, as it removes a lot of excuses. Remember: barriers to workout are mostly excuses. Attack them in advance!
2. Begin where you are, not where you’d like to be. The best way to not motivate yourself to workout is to think that you can go from zero to 5 times a week. Aim for two or three days a week for about 30 minutes and you will see that, once you stick to it, you will want more! Make your workouts regular and plan for at least once during your workweek. Weekends don’t count. If you want to fit in an activity during the weekend, this counts as a bonus and your body will thank you for it.
3. Become a morning person. In other words, exercise before you go to work in the morning. This helps you be consistent with your workout schedule, as it ensures that you don’t let other stuff interfere with your workout routine, e.g. being late from work, feeling overloaded with other errands that need to be done etc. If you need to to take care of your kids in the morning because your spouse leaves the house earlier than you do, aim to fit your workout right after you get out of work and before getting back into “family mode”.
4. Exercise with friends or find a workout buddy. No need to say much here You can get out of a date with yourself but not with someone else! At least it won’t be that easy!
5. Think positive. There might be days when it’s hard to prioritize your workout and put yourself first. If you don’t make it to your session, don’t punish yourself with criticism of “I am lazy”, “I will never make this” and so on. Truth is, to say that people don’t exercise because they are lazy is actually backwards. What happens is that people are “lazy” because they don’t exercise! The key is to find some routine “holes to fit your fitness” that work for you, drag yourself to your session – which will get you the initial results and the energy you need to build regular exercise into your habits. This brings us to tip nr. 6.
6. No matter your initial struggle, keep your eyes on the big picture. Working out releases endorphins (the happy hormone) that help you feel good. Although it’s hard to remember at first, keep this in mind when you need to choose between working out or running an errand. Especially if you exercise in the morning, you will notice after a while that you are starting your day in a better mood! Plus, exercise helps improve your performance at work and overall makes you feel energetic to live your life.
Exercise is a cure for many conditions and it’s effective not only as a treatment, but also as prevention for disease. The main thing I want you to take home with this article is that motivating yourself into a regular exerciser is a process. While hearing what worked for others can help you figure out things to try, it’s almost never going to be exactly what works for you. Do your best to support yourself, believe in yourself and stick with it. I promise you’ll end up finding exercise enjoyable sooner than you expect!
You are much more determined than you think you are!