Most of us have tried many times to establish an exercise routine only to fail again and again. So what is the trick to coming up with a plan and making it stick? If you feel like it’s time to get serious and put all of that behind you follow these simple tips to develop your ideal exercise routine!
1. Change Your Thinking
To change your thinking you’ll need to consider how you feel about exercise. How did you feel about it when you last had a routine? What made you stop? Once you tap into that you’ll need to uncover the thoughts and beliefs underlying those feeling. And if you want to be more successful this time than you have in the past you’ll need to make a change!
Feelings Past & Present
When you think about exercising how do you feel? Do you feel excited or overwhelmed?Or maybe you feel apathetic about the whole thing. Consider how you felt about exercising before you quit last time. Were you frustrated with an injury or not getting the results you expected?
Past Thoughts and Beliefs
There is no point in beating yourself up about your past thoughts, feelings beliefs or choices regarding exercise! Will it change anything? NO! Will it get you in shape? NO! So honestly the only thing it will do is potentially hold you back. Don’t go down that rabbit hole.
Take a moment to evaluate your past experiences. What were the thoughts or beliefs that were motivating or unmotivating you? Where did those thoughts come from? Dig deep! Ask yourself why again and again until you get to the root of these thoughts! Now think about this… how would things be different if you eliminated those thoughts and beliefs? What would it look like if you switched them around? Imagine it clearly!
Change Your Thoughts
Based on the vision you’ve imagined create a picture of your new self and new life. Change your thoughts. Spend time each day visualizing your new life! And, don’t forget to write positive present tense statements EVERY day! For example, “I love my body and I love being active”, “I look forward to my exercise time”, “exercising makes me feel strong and confident and relieves stress”. Writing it down and saying it out loud helps your mind to accept it and act on it. Before you know it you’ll be looking forward to your work outs!
2. Start a Fitness Journal
This doesn’t have to be anything fancy, it could just be a spiral bound notebook but having a journal will be instrumental in keeping you on the right path! Keep your habit tracker and your progress tracker in your journal along with your daily written affirmations (discussed above).
On the first page or inside front cover create a grid and number each box for the days of the month. You should be sure to have 30 – 45 boxes to start. It takes 4 – 6 weeks to establish a habit so you need to make sure you have enough boxes to last until you’re firmly set in your routine.
Each day that you get your work out done place a sticker on the corresponding box (or you could check it off or color it in). It is very motivating to see all of those boxes marked off in a row and makes it much less likely that you’ll skip exercising.
Write in your journal daily to track your progress. Keep track of how you’re feeling, eating, and sleeping. Be attentive to even small changes in your body and mood. Write it all down! You are likely to feel all sorts of improvements very quickly. Often times people are so busy white knuckling through the process that they don’t even notice the perks of exercising.
Have you noticed what I haven’t mentioned yet? That’s right, no mention of a scale or a measuring tape! That’s because it’s often counter productive! As your body composition changes your weight will fluctuate and getting accurate measurements is extremely challenging. You’re likely to notice by the end of the month that your clothes fit differently and others may even comment on you appearance changes! Lay off of the weights and measurement while you’re getting started! They are likely to undermine your progress!
3. Set a Time
Set a time everyday that you exercise. Do NOT make it random! It is very important that you choose a time (or time frame) that will work for you everyday! Oftentimes it is extremely helpful to set your time based on an activity that is already firmly in your schedule. If you go about it that way the actual time could fluctuate to accommodate the different commitments on weekdays and weekends. You could for example say you work out first thing when you wake up (which might be a different time on the weekend). You could also plan your workout for after dropping the kids off at school, after lunch or even simply plan a walk after dinner. It is very helpful to attach your new habit to an activity you already do automatically because then it’s likely to become automatic too!
4. Plan Your Activity in Advance
You’re shooting for at least 30 minutes of activity 7 days a week. Don’t wait until you’re into your exercise time to choose what activity you’ll be doing. Make that choice in advance. You might want to try out something different every session or you might want to do the same thing each day. Perhaps it works best for you to have a weekday workout and something different on the weekends. You could even enjoy group fitness classes sometimes. Or, consider joining a workout challenge or boot camp type program either streaming or in person. Then you don’t even have to worry about planning your activity you just follow along in the program. Whatever you choose to do be sure to make a decision in advance. If there is something you love stick with it. If you get bored easily switch it up. Check out some fun workout ideas here!
5. Dress For Success
Get yourself an outfit to work out in and appropriate footwear. You don’t need a ton of work out clothes and they don’t need to be outrageously expensive but you need something that is specifically designated for exercise.
Now… put that outfit on before your workout time starts! Dressing the part will help you get it done!
5. Find Accountability
Find a work out buddy or join an online support group. Even finding virtual accountability is helpful. Someone knowing you’re supposed to be working out every day WILL get you going. When I’m tackling a new habit I like to take pictures of myself doing it and post them in my stories on Instagram. I’m not sure if anyone would notice if I didn’t post but I always feel like they would and sometimes that’s all the motivation I need. For serious hard core accountability hire a personal trainer! You’ll be paying them by the hour whether you show or not. And… they WILL follow up if you bail on your appointments!
6. Plan a Reward
Plan a day of self care or a personal reward. Make this something that will motivate you but not be recklessly expensive or sweet (don’t undermine all of your hard work with junk food). A home pedicure with a new color polish or a spa splurge may be just the thing. I also enjoy taking an hour or two to make myself personal bath and body products with my favorite essential oils. Giving yourself a nice afternoon of peace, tea and reading or crafting can also be a nice reward for a job well done!
7. Get Started
If you’ve been thinking about establishing an exercise routine, just do it! Don’t wait until next month or next year. Get started today! And remember… you aren’t exercising to punish yourself or achieve some absurd version of perfection. You’re exercising because you love your body and you long to be healthy and take care of it!
For added accountability post your work out intentions in the comments below or better yet share this post with a friend and make a pact to do this together!