So you’ve been preparing the perfectly crafted exercise routine and you’re super excited to get started on Monday. You’ve done the research, spoken to a professional about your plan to make sure it’s safe, and even purchased the right equipment to get started.
Let’s Get To It – Or Not!
Monday rolls on and you couldn’t think of anything less enjoyable than working out. You do everything you can to get out of your plan, making all the excuses in the book. In the end, you’re left wondering how to stick to a workout plan.
You’re Not Alone
Why does this keep happening? You want to get in shape so badly, but you can never seem to stick to a plan. The good news is that you’re not alone and at Psych Company we’ve helped so many people achieve their goals and actually stick to their plan!
Keep reading for some of our best tips and advice on how you can finally get yourself to stick to your workout plan and achieve your fitness dreams.
How Do I Get Started Working Out?
Some could say that getting started is the hardest part. You have no idea what your fitness level is. Maybe you even tried going to the gym psyched to go full on, only to find your body gave up on you after 5 minutes.
Doing your research prior to getting started is very important as is speaking to your doctor to make sure that your intended routine is not in conflict with the doctor’s orders. Maybe a structured exercise program isn’t right for you, just yet – maybe you need to start with a more simple approach.
The best way to get started is to just get walking. Walking is a simple yet effective physical activity. Plus, if you’re overweight and attempting a high impact workout, that extra layer will feel like a weighted vest, intensifying the workout and triggering early exhaustion. This may be why you may have found yourself struggling to copy what others are doing at the gym.
Stop If You Experience Pain
Chances are if you’re just getting started, your fitness level will be very low and you may find it an intense struggle or even painful when exercising. Remember that exercising should not be painful, ever!
It can feel tough and uncomfortable, and some people think the saying “no pain, no gain” is true but you need to stop if you ever feel pain. When starting out, if you push through the pain when exercising you could seriously injure yourself.
Embrace Small Wins
Starting with basic physical activity, such as walking, will make you feel more comfortable, more motivated to pursue your fitness journey and help you to embrace the small wins.
How Much Exercise Do I Need?
Most of us have heard or seen on TV that everyone should get 30 minutes of exercise a day. But this doesn’t have to be your starting point. This can be the goal that you build up to, and even increase later down the line.
Plan to have a fitness routine in the first week of 15 minutes to start. If that feels too easy, try 30 minutes a day. After a week or two weeks, you can begin to increase your time, activity or intensity level and start making that lifestyle change.
Celebrate All Progress
Remember any progress counts, even in smaller chunks. Experiencing progress will raise your spirits and encourage you to set goals for daily activity.
How Hard Do I Need to Exercise?
Exercise should be uncomfortable when you’re just getting started and especially when you are pushing yourself to the limit by getting in those additional reps. Fitness should never feel painful.
Always stop the minute you feel anything that goes beyond uncomfortable. Some common signs you should take a break to evaluate how you’re doing include:
- Feeling pain during or after workout
- Rapid heart rate
- Extreme fatigue
- Excessive sweating
You may just be dehydrated or perhaps the pain is related to skipping your warm up. Sometimes it is a sign that further intervention is needed in the way of seeing your physician. Either way, pushing yourself through pain (not discomfort) will only make you quit and possibly even damage your body.
How Can I Avoid Making Excuses?
Humans are designed to make excuses when we don’t want to do something. Some common excuses people make for not exercising include:
- I’m too tired
- I don’t have enough time
- It’s too hot/cold outside
- I don’t know how to exercise
- I don’t have any equipment
- I’m not in good shape
- It hurts
- I’m too busy
- It’s not fun
Our bodies and brain are wired to avoid discomfort and seek gratification. This is why it’s so easy for us to overindulge in the wrong foods. Our body loves the instant gratification.
Instant Gratification is Your Enemy
Even though the gratification we would experience from achieving our dream body is bigger than the immediate gratification felt when we eat something sweet for instance, it takes time to train our brains into seeking out the long-term goals. This “training” can be practiced in different areas of our lives unrelated to fitness as well, such as spending money. The temptation to overspend on clothing you love and get that instant gratification is difficult to reject even though you know you’ve been wanting to save up for something bigger.
A lighter example is spending your whole night watching TikToks. TikTok has started to change our brains such that we demand stimulation within 5 seconds or we move on. Our brains have adapted to this over stimulation by the sheer volume of content that is thrown at us. This has led us to a feeling of boredom if we don’t have something to satisfy us every second of the day. But you can beat the temptation!
If you really want to meet your goals, you’ll learn how to recognize patterns in how our brains tick. You’re already taking a big step forward just by reading this blog and doing your research, so good job!
How Can I Stick To an Exercise Routine?
If you can teach your body to go to sleep at a specific time, even if you don’t feel tired, that demonstrates determination and the fact that your willpower is evolving. Eventually your routine becomes the easiest thing you’ve ever done as your body adapts, but getting started is really difficult.
Recognize Moments of Low Willpower
Eating at set times and sleeping at set times is key to developing the discipline it takes to establish and stick to a workout routine. At first, you’ll be thinking “how can I eat and sleep when I’m not even hungry or tired?” This same thinking may be mirrored in your fitness journey when you ask yourself, “Why should I go to the gym when it will be uncomfortable and I won’t even see a difference?” These thoughts are reasonable, but they don’t have to thwart your path. Once you learn to recognize moments of low willpower, you’ll begin to harness the inner strength to shut them down. Recognizing that it is normal to feel unmotivated now and again is important to knowing that you can also transcend that feeling in the interest of seeing your goals through.
Overcoming Obstacles to Exercising
Once you learn how to spot when your body is seeking instant gratification, you can start to intervene and use that knowledge to stay strong and do what you need to do to minimize these occurrences.
Start to slowly cut out sugar, for example. According to numerous studies, sugar can be more addicting than drugs. Similarly, we can lessen our trips to the mall in order to curb our shopping sprees. We can also learn to get off TikTok well before bedtime in order to ensure we get sufficient rest for the following workday. Once you change other patterns in your day to day living, you will naturally start to see changes unfold when it comes to fitness.
As your willpower grows, you won’t mind putting yourself in uncomfortable situations that promote your overall health, such as attending that bootcamp class. Getting in shape and sticking to a workout routine could be the highest expression of willpower!
Find a Personal Trainer
Contacting a certified personal trainer is a great place to get helpful tips, develop your exercise plan, and develop the perfect form. They can also assess your current physical fitness and determine how much physical activity you should get started with. You need to track your current fitness level in order to know where you stand and how you’re growing. Even just having a workout partner and a workout routine from the internet is sufficient for getting started.
How Can I Work Exercise Into My Daily Life?
Starting at the gym is not really necessary when there are other great forms of physical activity to get you moving.
Walking. Get off the bus a few stops early and get some walking in. Or, if you drive, park a little further away.
Taking the stairs. Take the stairs more and more throughout your day. If you live or work in a tall building you can try taking a flight or two, up or down, before getting on the elevator. Try increasing the number of stairs you take as you get in better shape.
Cleaning. Did you know that cleaning is a great workout? Get those gloves on and start cleaning! I’m sure your household will appreciate this one as well.
Dancing. Dancing is a great workout. Stick on some of your favourite tunes and just have a good time, do some goofy dancing, just have fun with it!
Go for a run/jog. Get some fresh air and exercise by going for a run or jog outdoors.
Hiking. Explore nature and get a great workout by hiking in the mountains or other scenic areas.
Swimming. Splash around and get fit in the pool or at the beach with some swimming exercises. Even treading water works the body!
Biking. Ride your way to better health with some cycling.
All of these activities are great ways to work exercise into your daily routine without having to set aside time to go to the gym. And the best part is, you can do them with friends or family members!
How Can I Make My Exercise Habit Stick?
There are a number of tips and tricks you can use to help you stick with your workout routine.
Motivation Isn’t Enough
Briefly, the answer to this question is different for everyone. One common reason many people fall short of their fitness goals is that they rely too heavily on motivation when setting their agenda when, in reality, motivation comes and goes. If you’re relying on motivation to get you to the gym, chances are you won’t be feeling it in the morning and will try to make excuses to get out of it.
Remind Yourself of Your Goals
To beat low motivation, try making a vision board that you can put somewhere you’ll see first thing in the morning. This vision board should contain many things to remind you of your goals and the things that do motivate you. The hope is that you’ll see this vision board and while you may not feel motivated, you may remember all the things you hope to achieve and why they’re so important to you.
Turn it into a game
Challenge people on social media or your friends. Make it a competition if it helps you motivate yourself. Activity based video games is a good way to really enjoy yourself while working out, especially if you’re a gamer. They have eSport games such a tennis and running from zombies.
Set yourself up for success
While it’s easy to make a plan, sticking to it is another story. Schedule time to motivate yourself before your work out. Do whatever you need to hype yourself up. Get everything ready beforehand. Pick out your outfit and set up your equipment in advance. If you’re going to the gym, sign up beforehand, because some gyms are very popular and this sign up process can turn into an hour long wait, making you lose your momentum and cutting into your scheduled workout time.
While working out is a natural reward, since you’ll be feeling the energy, relaxation, and great sleep later on, it’s okay to reward yourself with something simple, but enjoyable then and there. This could be anything from having your favourite dinner that night, picking a movie you love to watch, or buying yourself a new water bottle for the gym. Whatever it is, make sure you feel rewarded because you’ve done something incredible just by taking those first steps.
Start small and build momentum
Before even starting, remember that some of your peers may be at a different stage of their fitness journey and that is okay. You may see someone running much faster than you, but chances are they’ve been doing it for a long time. Competition can be fun, but try it with someone at the same level as you. The best thing we can recommend is starting out by walking and increasing your walks over time. Once walking feels easy, take it up a notch. You can do this by increasing your distance/time or by carrying weights. You could even start introducing weight lifting very slowly, or Pilates. You’ll know you’re ready for the next step forward when you find your current workout easy.
Choose activities that make you feel happy and confident
If you love playing sports, why not join a local team? That could be the best way to enjoy your fitness journey and it might not even feel like you’re exercising. There are real sports, eSports, swimming, and dancing. Working out doesn’t have to mean being stuck in the gym. Do whatever you can to find joy in your exercise.
Visualize your success
Once again, make time to visualize what it is you are working towards before each workout. Put a vision board in your room that you can look at daily that acts as a reminder of the things that you’re working towards. You could even put this in front of your couch to remind yourself to get up and get moving.
Accept that you won’t always want to workout
This is totally normal. Even experienced gym pros have days when they just don’t want to. Many people combat this by telling themselves they’ll only go for 5 minutes and find themselves doing much more since they’re already there. Getting up and going can be the hardest part. So doing things to make that process easier will only be beneficial.
Remember It’s Normal To Feel Unmotivated at Times
It should be remembered that it is normal to feel unmotivated at times when it comes to working out. However, with the right tips, you can help yourself get through those tough moments and stick to your routine. By turning your workouts into a game, treating yourself to simple rewards, remembering to start small and build momentum, you are setting yourself up for success. As well, choosing activities that make you happy and confident, visualizing your success, and accepting that you won’t always want to workout, will help make the whole process easier on you while still producing those results you crave.