Falling in love with working out: how to establish a sustainable exercise routine
Exercise is one of those words that can invoke very extreme reactions from people. Some adore it and some feel they are allergic to it. For those who feel it is boring and don’t want to run for hours on a treadmill (hint: don’t do that), feel intimidated by the thought of going to the gym or have tried to start a routine in the past but couldn’t seem to make it stick, I just want to say, I get it.
It makes me chuckle to think I am giving exercise tips as I am no expert and have fallen off the workout wagon more times than I care to admit, but perhaps that gives me even more authority because I am the person who struggled to motivate themselves to exercise, I am the one who never kept it up and I am the one who resented it. I am just a normal person (mostly!) so I’ve had to find what works.
I find with working out, the hardest part is getting into a routine when you’ve either let it slide or never had one to begin with. Once you’ve worked out a few times, you start to crave it and look forward to it, especially when you can feel yourself improving. The hardest part is starting. With that in mind, here are some tips I use which will help you to get going:
Find something you love to do. When I go climbing I forget that I’m exercising. I feel it the next day, but in the moment I’m socialising and strategising and even when my arms are about to fall off, I’m like “just one more”. It’s hard to forget I’m working out during CrossFit but it’s weirdly addictive. I think I just love feeling stronger. Just remember what works for one person may not work for you. Don’t force yourself to run if you despise it because it will colour your whole attitude towards working out. Some weirdoes (my husband) love running, let them have it. Find what you love. Keep it fun. Play around. Something as simple as ab sliders can provide endless entertainment!
Rope someone in. I had tried unsuccessfully to start running many times, but the only time it stuck was four years ago when I started running with my husband. I kept it up for 3 years and 2 marathons because I had someone to keep me going (and keep pushing me). When you bring someone along it becomes a social event which makes you more likely to stick to it and look forward to it, and either you push each other or you are the kind of people who enjoy a little friendly competition, so you push yourselves.
Start small. Often we get to the “enough is enough” point and finally feel inspired to make a change, which is great, but it’s all too easy to become overzealous in our desire to be healthy and we decide we are going to work out 4 times a week and get up early every morning and quit drinking and only eat salads and, and, and…and we get overwhelmed, last maybe a week or two then throw in the towel. The key to making any change is to start small so that it is sustainable. One that’s an established habit and you feel ready to take the next step go with it. Grow organically, don’t force things.
Go with the flow. What I mean by this is, don’t be rigid in your routine. You will go through cycles of interest and cycles of energy, and when you honour those, you will be your most effective and avoid the resentment that can sometimes set in when trying to force yourself to work out. Dan Tavino recently did a guest podcast episode for Namaslay® with YogaByCandace® about strength training to complement your yoga practice and he talked about how sometimes the best thing is to take a break from your training when you’ve hit a plateau and try something else. You’ll often come back to it refreshed and improved. Variety is key and when you cross train, you improve across the board.
Do it for the right reasons. I love CrossFit because I love to feel myself getting stronger. I love climbing because it’s strategic and it engages my brain as well as my muscles (also climbing is something that you just never grow out of!). I love yoga because I feel stronger, I feel more balanced, it helps me to feel into my body and calm my mind. None of these ‘why’s’ involve losing weight, impressing someone else, or punishing myself for eating. That was the old me, 100%, and it’s no fun, no to mention not sustainable, and actually can be quite destructive. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to look good, and that’s an awesome by-product of working out, but your top priority should be to FEEL good.
At the end of the day, it’s a mindset shift. You are working out to see what you are capable of rather than punishing yourself for what you ate. You are thankful for what your body can do instead of resentful for being forced to move. You realise that you actually feel amazing after a workout and lethargic after sitting on the couch all day, and you will NEVER regret working out. Even when I’ve actually injured myself, I’ve never regretted working out, not once. You will regret not working out though.
Working out is like everything else: it’s easy to do but it’s also easy not to do and it is your choice which makes the difference. These tips will help to overcome the need for forced motivation and create some inspiration (big difference between the two) to move in a way that is right for your body. What choice will you make today?