At some point in your life, I bet you have been stoked to start a fitness regiment, or just enthusiastic to start working out. After some time, with life getting in the way, maybe you lost that enthusiasm you once had. Maybe this cycle repeats itself every so often and you wish you would have just stayed in shape. How do you make exercise a habit and a part of your lifestyle?
- Buddy up or join a class
You don’t have to go do this alone. If you know someone who also wants to start making exercise a habit, join forces. Having someone to hold you accountable and push you daily can be a good way to stick with it, especially on days when you need some extra encouragement. Try to find someone who has similar goals as you or is at the same fitness level you are at. If you buddy up with someone who is already in great shape and goes to the gym daily, it might be hard to do the same exercises as them or keep up the pace with them.
If you can’t find an exercise partner, find a class at your gym or in your area that you would enjoy. There you can meet people who will encourage you to stick to your routine. Yoga classes, boot camps, spinning, boxing, or CrossFit to name a few. If you want to make exercise a habit, finding a class or gym that you enjoy going to can make that process easier.
- Start easy
Find an exercise to do that is easy for you. If you start with something challenging you will be less likely to stay committed to it. Starting small and easy can help you get the consistency and routine down. Once exercise becomes a habit in your life, then you can start to increase the difficulty. Even if your goal to get started is just get dressed for a workout and then go outside and walk for 5 minutes. Do that, and do it consistently. Small goals like that will at least get you started, and once you’ve got that far you may decide you want to walk for 10 more minutes or pick up the pace to a jog. Start small so that you can go consistently.
This helps you focus on the right things. The results will come, what is more important is making a habit so that your goals can be attainable.
- Enjoy it
It may be cliche, but enjoy the process. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you only did 5 minutes of stair stepper instead of 10. Don’t give up if you couldn’t do a pull-up. At least you’re taking the steps to get there. You’re making progress
Also, don’t think that you have to do something miserable to get in shape. Do what you enjoy. Taking your bike out on the trails, going for a walk, picking up a sport you used to love. Do activities that you love to do, exercise doesn’t have to be strict and regimented. You can also find a class in your area that you will look forward to going to. Being healthy should be a life-long commitment so make it enjoyable.
- Make a plan, stick to it
In order to make a habit you need a plan. You need to have certain actions to take and goals to strive for. This will help give you singular focus to help you stay on track. Write your goals down and keep track of them. You can make a big goal which will be your “where I want to be” goal, but you also need to have smaller goals in place. The more specific the better. An example would be:
“Monday, I will run on the treadmill for 20 minutes, starting at 6am at the gym that’s on the way to work.”
Being specific makes it more intentional. If you don’t hit your goal exactly, lets say you were late to the gym or didn’t run the full amount, that’s ok. The goals are supposed to be targets, you can be off the mark just try not to miss completely by not showing up. If your main goal is to lose 15 pounds in 6 months, having small goals set in place will help direct you and give you a guideline of how exactly you plan to reach that goal.
- Make it a priority
Don’t let yourself give any excuses such as, “I’m too tired” or “I don’t have time”. If you make exercise a priority, you will find that extra energy or you will make time. Be honest with yourself because if you say you don’t have the time then you will never find the time. If you’re like most people, you probably work way too much and have a ton of reasons why you can’t exercise, but if you make it a priority you will make it happen.
It can take up to two months for a habit to form but don’t let that discourage you. When it comes to exercise, you start feeling the affects pretty soon. Be aware of these moments. You may feel more energized, start sleeping better, or thinking more clearly. Let theses signs of progress motivate you to keep pushing.
Once you have formed a habit, take a look at what you have accomplished so far and how you feel. You may notice that there are reasons other than your physical appearance that make you want to stay in the habit. These motivators will keep you exercising for years to come.