It’s easy to say you’re going to get in shape, but it’s a lot harder to do it. There are many times a year that the familiar cry of “I’m getting in shape” resounds across the internet: New Years, the months leading up to bikini season, before a wedding or vacation. These are all great motivators to get you in shape, but will you stay in shape? Or will you “get in shape” each year and stop once summer is over?
For prolonged health, it might be more beneficial to think of a fitness routine as a lifestyle change instead of a short term goal. In fact, the best results come from a change in mindset as well as physical habits.
The first step is mental: decide to start and start planning. Once you’re in the right mindset you can start. Here are some ways to set yourself up for success.
Decide on goals
Before you get out there and start exercising, you need to know what you’re working toward. Are you hoping to lose X amount of weight and keep it off? Do you want to no longer feel self-conscious about your looks? Do you want more confidence? Those are all great goals.
Once you have goals, you’re ready to start planning how to achieve them. It’s important to start slow and highlight accomplishments to keep you positive and not overwhelmed. You wouldn’t decide to learn a new language and skip the beginner classes in favor of the conversational class. You need a foundation to experience success.
You can do things in your daily life that will help you get into the physical mindset:
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator
- Park far away and walk across the parking lot
- Put things you need often out of reach so you have to get up or move more to get them
Also important is to remember that good enough is good enough when you start. The main objective at the beginning is to get the routine going. You won’t do that if you burn out from starting too intense. Once you have a routine you can increase the intensity and start working toward optimal workouts.
Build in variety
When you’re planning your exercise routines, doing the same thing every day will sound consistent, but will be boring. Planning to run every morning for example, may work for some, but for others it can be tedious and easy to ditch. Replacing some runs with group exercise classes, or alternating cardio days and strength days can help to keep it interesting.
Do things you enjoy
This pairs up with the previous point nicely. If you add in things you enjoy, or things that are a bit off the beaten path, you may have more fun and find it easier to keep going.
- Join a team sport. This can be something well-known like soccer or softball or something less mainstream like roller derby or rowing.
- Individual sports. Consider badminton, tennis or racquetball.
- Fitness classes. Gyms often have group classes for spin, pilates or dance aerobics. Or you can find other classes like trampoline or kickboxing classes.
Build in recovery time
We’ve all experienced workouts that result in days of sore muscles, especially at the beginning of a routine. It’s important to build in recovery time for that. If you push yourself too hard you may burn out or, worse, injure yourself. Nothing kills a workout routine than an injury.
To make sure you stick to it, consider scheduling some fitness activities with friends. Having plans to meet someone for a class adds commitment. Other things you can do to add accountability are putting it on a calendar and keeping a fitness journal to track goal progression.
If you plan on exercising everyday, consider marking the day in your calendar after your workout, so you can easily see your exercise streak and stay motivated to keep it going.
With a good plan, including activities and timing, you’re sure to experience success.