“ok i’m TOTALLY going to go to the gym starting Monday. and i’m going to keep up with it and go at least 4 times a week.”
you go monday. and never go back because you either:
1. went home and ate your face off afterwards and felt guilty and ashamed
2. you don’t plan AHEAD and life gets in the way
so how the HECK do you make fitness and health a part of your life? like a REAL part of your life.
they say it takes 3 weeks to make it STICK.
so, how to even get to day 1?
Exercising is a habit. Once you’re in it, it’s easy to stay in it, but the reason so many people don’t exercise who want to is that they don’t know how to start. There’s a wealth of resources out there on what to do once you’re in the gym or on the treadmill, but they’re all useless if you don’t have a reliable way to get yourself in the habit of going running, or going to the gym, and a way to get into that habit easily.
Consistency is key when it comes to starting your fitness journey. And here’s a few of my good go-to trick’s I’ve learned over this past year:
Find your motivator: “I want to get in shape” isn’t really a GREAT motivator. It’s kind of bland, unclear and you don’t really know WHAT to do to get to that “shape”. Having a specific motivator you can glue yourself to is incredibly useful, and many times the more specific a goal or motivator is better. It could be like “I WILL lose 5 pounds”, but think of it like this:
“I will lose those 5 pounds because I’ve never believed in myself and I’m sure others around me that know me won’t believe in me either that I can do it. But you know hwat, I’m going to do it anyways. Even if I’m slow, overweight, clueless, WHATEVER, I’m going to lose those damn pounds then KEEP ON GOING!”
Set an action trigger: find something in your day to day activities where you can say “as soon as X, I”ll go to the gym”. X can be leaving work, waking up, finishing a class, after dropping your kid off at soccer practice, whatever, so long as you pick something that happens CONSISTENTLY where you can tack going to the gym on afterwards, no matter what. It’s much easier to commit to doing something in the future than it is to do something right now, and it’s easier to go from one thing to antoehr than to go from doing nothing to doing something.
This is the MOST important, and my #1 rule – SET A MEETING WITH YOURSELF: for Christ sake, it’s your health, your wellbeing, it goes before anything else. When is the last time you bailed on a meeting your boss invited you to? Never right? Most people are connected enough to their calendar that once they put something in it, they’re much more likely to do it, so set a RECURRING exercise time in your schedule, as an action rigger after something else, to further enforce your commitment to going to it. No if ands or buts (pun intended). Even go as far as getting a personal trainer, so you HAVE to be at that “meeting” or you pay cancel fee or something.
Make it seem easy: SO important. Don’t go find a routine that demands 2 hours in the gym 6 days a week. That’s just damn near impossible for just about anyone. And that just isn’t fun. Start with a fun dvd that only takes 35 minutes out of your day. Find an online workout 8 week program that you can print off each “workout” and take it with you to the gym, so you have to keep up with it during the 8 week duration. Everyone has 35 minutes a few days a week. Everyone.
Keep a gym bag at the ready: my gym bag is ALWAYS sitting by my front door, packed and ready for anytime I need to grab it. My water bottle is filled with aminos 24/7 and sitting in the fridge, whenever I need it. If I know I’m working out early the next morning, I lay out all of my clothes on the floor by my bed, have my vitamins bedside to take immediately and car keys right by my gym bag. No struggle, no stress searching for that DAMN SHOE THAT WENT MISSING. If you drive everywhere, keep your gym bag in your car, that way you have ZERO excuses to swing by the gym .
Find a fun routine: at least until you’re FULLY in the swing of things and 100% committed to going to the gym regularly, it’s more important that you’re enjoying your routine than it is that you’re getting the maximum possible results. Once you’re exercising multiple days a week with regularity and enjoying yourself to the extent where it would be harder to stop than to keep going, then you can start changing things for “maximum gainssss” but right now you need to get in the gym, period. Go to Zumba class every Monday and Wednesday, or kickboxing class every Tuesday and Thursday. Regardless, make it fun!
Ok, so now you’re going to the gym and enjoying it, but how do you make sure you keep going? To keep being motivated TO go?
REINFORCE THE HABIT! First off, reinforcing working out is not that hard. Once you start noticing the changes your body is making, you’ll likely WANT to keep going to keep seeing results. The productivity, sleep, happiness, everything will boost and you won’t want to stop. That said, it’s useful to keep reinforcing just in case.
Brag intelligently: There’s a psychological effect called “substitution” and essentially how it works is that once you tell someone about your goals you’re less likely to achieve them. You’ve already said “hey! I’m going to lose 20 lbs!” and they go “hey awesome!” and you get some satisfaction out of them congratulating you and BOOM you feel less motivated to get the good feeling from ACTUALLY LOSING THE WEIGHT. So in order to avoid this, don’t ell people about your goals except for may a couple very close confidants. I know you usually hear the opposite advice, but just trust.
What can be useful though is bragging about your progress. Using a site like ‘myfitness pal’, fitbit, or in my case Instagram. I created my fitness Instagram account to help motivate MYSELF and keep myself accountable. In the end I’m now able to share my progress with so many other amazing people in the same boat, progress helps breed more progress in others! win! Encouragement from people in the same boat as you is KEY.
In addition, tracking your progress is a great way to reinforce your exercise habits, because it gives you a very quantifiable way to look back on how successful you’ve been and keep pushing yourself further. Aka #transformationtuesday! One of the best ways to do this is taking progress pics. They can be every day, week, month whatever works for you. The idea is to be able to look back at old pics of yourself for where you’re coming from as a way to better see how far you’ve come. We’ve ALL had those days where we think “ugh I’m stuck. I haven’t changed at all. Blah blah blah whine whine whine whine” THIS is the moment you whip out that pic you remember you took a month ago and literally can SEE the change. SLOW PROGRESS IS STILL PROGRESS PEOPLE.
(left: august 2013 right: jan 2014) (left september 2013 right: jan 2014)
*case and point. Try using the same stance every time in the same ‘room’ or spot, that way everything aligns up! SEEING your progress with those pretty little eyes of yours helps you to keep pushing through when you think you’ve hit a wall. *
Find a partner if you need to. The second part of bragging intelligently is that you probably have someone who wants the same thing as you, but is having trouble getting there. If you can find someone to pursue your fitness goals with, you can keep each other going and really reinforce each other’s habit development. This would be the only person to tell your long term goals to.
Think of every day you go as a link in a chain: look at each day you successfully go to the gym based on your schedule as a successful additional link in a long chain of successes. Anytime you think to yourself about skipping a day, or procrastinating going, imagine that chain breaking and how long it will take to build it back up. you can even mark each success on a calendar or put a dollar or quarter in a jar to see how long your chain is getting. Every day that you go successfully, it will become harder and harder to let yourself stop. See how far you’ve come at that moment, and think “2 months from now I can’t imagine how awesome I’ll look if I keep this pattern up!!” -I mean, if that doesn’t motivate ya, I don’t know what will.
And last but not least: GYM SWAG. Wear FUN clothes or something that just makes you feel good about yourself! it can be all black with some pink socks to spice things up abit. I swear that’s 90% of what gets me going to the gym. Is creating a fun outfit. Seriously. Do it.
FUN = YAY! = I LOVE GOING TO THE GYM!
simple math, peeps 😉
What are the ways that you swear by?! How do YOU stay motivated? I’m always looking for new ways to incorporate into my daily fitness routine.