We’ve all been there. On that cold and dreary first week of January, we dig out our trainers and barely worn exercise gear. We complete a couple of workouts and feel great afterwards. We vow that we’ll keep it up, imagining how we will be looking a year from now. Then life’s distractions come a-knocking and our trainers get dusty. Some months later the sun comes out to play, signalling that summer is on it’s way and we reach for those shoes once again. Although this happens intermittently throughout the year, the whole fitness thing doesn’t seem to quite stick.
I am by no means an expert on fitness. I am just a regular gal who (probably like you) always dreamed of getting fit, and more importantly wanted to keep it up. If you’re not up to date with me, check out this post and this post to find out more about my relationship with fitness throughout 2020 so far. But to summarize, back in Jan 2020 I was determined that this year I would live a more active lifestyle. Over the last seven months I have ensured that fitness is a regular part of my routine. As a result, I have noticed both mental and physical positive changes. I may not be the strongest, most toned or most flexible person I know, but boy have I improved. I feel fitter, happier and calmer and I’m certain this has helped me cope better and navigate my way through the pandemic.
If you’re wondering what my secret is, carry on reading to find out my tips on how to make exercise a habit!
1. Establish what your motivations are, both for the short and long term
It is important to not skip identifying both of these goals as you won’t see results overnight. This will help you have something to aim towards, in both the immediate and distant future.
Examples of short term goals = Get more flexible, become stronger, run three times a week
Examples of long term goals = Live a more active lifestyle, complete a half or full marathon, lose xx kg
2. Choose an exercise you enjoy or have an interest to start
This sounds simple but don’t just run because it feels like everyone else is. If it doesn’t interest you, try pilates, swimming, strength training, HIIT workouts or perhaps something more unique like joining an aerial hoop class! Whatever it may be, each week gradually build up the intensity and the frequency of your workouts.
3. Research how to properly do movements you aren’t familiar with
Whether it’s how to do a squat, easier push-up variations, or maybe something more advanced, make sure you research! Search on Google, YouTube, ask a friend or a personal trainer etc., on the correct form of these moves. Then practice these movements in front of a mirror to see if you’re holding them correctly. This will help your workouts be far more effective and will prevent injury in the long term.
Buy basic equipment you may need such as a yoga mat, a skipping rope or some weights. There are some great pieces of equipment you can invest in which will also help change up your workouts, keeping them varied and you interested!
5. Get the gear on!
Set yourself up for the day by changing into your exercise kit or workout clothes first thing in the morning, so you have no excuse. Matching sets and hair buns are optional!
6. Time your workouts
No one wants to workout after indulging, so if you can keep yourself from reaching for the biscuits for your morning snack, you may be a bit more likely to workout. I try to keep myself hydrated throughout the day and eat well leading up to my workout time. This has definitely helped me follow through and improve my performance during exercise.
7. Commit to the workout
Exercise with someone, or at the very least tell someone about it! This will hold you accountable, committed and motivated!
8. Music is a must
Get a good playlist to keep you motivated and focused on the workout. Spotify and YouTube have some great music to get you inspired to move!
9. Eat well before exercise
When is the best time of day for you to fit this in? Make sure you are realistic! 6:00 AM workouts won’t work if you simply aren’t a morning person. Make sure you also plan to leave time in your day for rest and any other commitments you may have. If you don’t, you may be at risk of quickly resenting your workouts and ultimately not seeing them through. (I like to exercise in the morning between 9:00 – 11:00 AM so that the rest of my day is free).
10. Remember, exercise is not a punishment for food
If you think like this, it’s time to change that perspective! Exercise is something we should reward our body with, and ultimately look forward to. Exercising releases endorphins, hormones that leave you feeling calmer and happier! It can be a stress reliever, a time for team socials, a time to recharge or challenge yourself! For me, exercise allows me to temporarily switch off from everything else going on in my life, and resets my mind to focus on the here and now. Plus, it’s all about balance. I definitely still eat my treats in the week!
11. Document your progress
Keeping track of my progress such as how many more push ups, burpees etc., I can do in a minute, every few weeks has really helped! I’d recommend to also take photos to document how your body changes every month. Seeing how my body has toned as I have gotten stronger and leaner, was a booster on days I felt unmotivated. It’s easy to forget where you started, and had it not been for this I probably would have felt defeated and given up.
12. Believe in yourself
You may not be able to keep up with all the moves or run as fast as you like at the beginning, but challenge yourself and do not compare yourself to others! Push yourself a little more each week. Over the coming weeks and months, you will notice yourself developing more self-discipline & self-confidence! Take it easy and remember, there is no reason why you can’t do it.
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