Beginning or getting back to an exercise routine involves more than just scheduling your workouts and joining a gym. Exercise should be incorporated into your daily routine like eating, sleeping, and taking your morning shower. It shouldn’t be something you do only when you want to drop a few extra pounds or prepare for a 5K race. Sticking with your goals requires a few mental tricks to help keep you moving, focused, and motivated. The information below may help you stay on course when your motivation starts to waiver. Remember, the result is worth the effort.
1. Plan your workouts for the week. Plan ahead by writing your workouts down in your calendar (time, day, what you plan to do, and where). Schedule workouts as you would any other important activity. You can also break your workouts into two or three time periods throughout the day. For example, plan 10-20 minutes in the morning and 10-20 minutes in the evening. Think outside the box. Take a walk during your child’s sports practice, buy a DVD and workout at home, download fitness apps onto your phone, take the stairs instead of the elevator at work, or workout with weights or your own body weight while you watch TV at night.
2. Do something different. If the thought of running on a treadmill makes you want to run the other direction, do something totally different. Sign up for a local boot camp class or check out a new yoga studio. A change of scenery and a brand new activity can be refreshing and rejuvenating.
3. Set realistic goals. Shifting overnight from being sedentary to becoming an exercise buff isn’t in the cards for most people. What’s more, unrealistic expectations will set you up for frustration and failure. A better approach is to set a long-term goal, such as walking for 30 minutes five days a week, and break it into monthly targets. During the first month, focus on walking three days a week for at least 10 minutes or longer each time. During the second month, walk an additional day per week (so you’re up to walking four days a week). Add another day in the third month. Then, every two weeks, extend each walking session by five minutes until you reach your goal. Start with simple goals and then progress to longer range goals.
Jennifer Adams is a nationally certified personal trainer and exercise instructor who has been in the fitness industry for more than 20 years. She is the owner of Sand N Sea Fitness in Santa Cruz and is a practicing attorney. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.