Finding A Fitness Routine That Sticks
While this post has absolutely nothing to do with building a custom home, I do find the topic timely. It is the turn of the new year, and we’re all making resolutions, which often leads to talking about self care. As someone who was never able to maintain a consistent exercise routine and instead experienced many, many years of failed fitness goals and resolutions, I wanted to share what has worked for me for over 5 years now.
Establishing a consistent exercise routine can be one of the hardest routines to make stick. We’re busy, we’re tired, we’re over-scheduled, we’re _______ (insert here).
For a long time, I set fitness goals, only to let myself down over and over again because I couldn’t stick to it. It was so frustrating, and I knew I only had myself to blame. But one thing changed it all for me. Please don’t laugh, and please stay with me. The thing that helped me establish a consistent fitness routine was a self-help book.
Did I just lose you? I hope not, because if you are serious about getting healthy, please stick with me!
Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin changed my outlook, not just on exercise, but on ME! It isn’t a diet and exercise book, although she uses diet and exercise examples throughout. I would describe it as an “understanding your personality book”. It talks about 4 specific types of personalities (she refers to them as tendencies), and how, depending on your personality, you can form good habits. And why some people find it difficult to keep up with good habits, depending on their personality.
This book didn’t make me feel like there was something wrong with my personality, and it certainly didn’t try to convince me I needed to change it in order to be successful. Instead, it taught me how to utilize my personality to affect positive change by creating (and keeping) good habits. I’m an “Obliger” which means that I have no problem meeting other people’s expectations, but I struggle to meet expectations imposed on myself.
In other words, I’m not able to self-motivate.
The majority of people (like over 80% of people) fall into the “Obliger” category (I’m in good company!), which might explain why nearly 2/3 of Americans don’t have a regular fitness routine. Now that I get me, I can totally understand that statistic. (Curious about what category you’re in? You can take this short quiz to learn your tendency.)
Because I can’t just tell myself I’m going to get up at 5:30 tomorrow morning to exercise. My personality needs a reason, an outside motivator, to show up. Just setting my alarm isn’t enough. For me, I need accountability. It started off with a running buddy. Knowing my friend was standing on the street corner at 6 AM, waiting for me to start our morning run was the accountability I needed. I got up, every time. But when I started having chronic hip issues, I could no longer run outdoors regularly. I was frustrated because I missed my morning runs with my friends, and I missed exercising regularly. I knew I needed to find another outside force to get myself out of bed and back in a routine.
For the first time in my life, I tried group fitness classes. I started taking Pure Barre classes, and then switched over to Orange Theory Fitness (totally addicted since 2019). I love the accountability these classes provide, not through the amazing community they foster (although I do love the people I’ve met & I know some are motivated by that aspect). I found accountability because I pay a hefty monthly membership fee to attend these classes. I have to schedule the classes ahead of time, and if I want to cancel, I have to do it 8 hours before the class starts or pay a penalty. Funny how a $12 penalty fee can motivate you out of bed at 5:30 AM. Every time!
It’s been 5 years since I figured out my personality and how to use it to my advantage. Before I knew what was happening, I was in a consistent routine. And now, working out regularly is part of my lifestyle. In fact, I’ve come to rely on my fitness routine for my mental health as much as I do my physical health. If I go more than 2 days without exercise (even when I’m on vacation), I get a little twitchy. I don’t feel right. And I’m certainly not in the right mindset to tackle the day.
Not sure how to get started? Check out these tips for establishing a fitness routine…
Step 1: Set Your Intention
Notice how I didn’t say, set a goal? So many people set their eyes on something in the future to motivate them to start exercising or dieting. Maybe its an upcoming high school reunion or a wedding you plan to attend. Or perhaps you want to run a marathon. It might work for some, but it didn’t work for me. I ran 3 marathons before I was able to establish a regular fitness routine (and marathon training had nothing to do with it). The idea of having to run 26.2 miles definitely got me out the door during training (few people can run that far without training), but as soon as the marathon was done, so was my routine. Everything I was doing was structured around my goal of crossing the finish line of the race. Once I accomplished that, what was left? But once I committed to a healthy lifestyle, I knew I didn’t need (or want) a finish line.
Goals are fine for measuring your progress, but your intention needs to be long-term. Good health and fitness should be a life-long intention. No finish lines!
Step 2: Figure Out What Motivates You
We all want to be healthy, and who doesn’t want to drop a few extra pounds? But if “getting healthy” is your sole motivator, and you’re like 80% of the population, you’re going to set yourself up for failure. You need to figure out what motivates you to get up off the couch and exercise, not why you want to get up and exercise. Do you need an accountability partner? Does the thought of financial penalty motivate you like it does me? Figuring out what will motivate you to get moving is the most important first step you can take.
Step 3: Don’t Give Up
Establishing a regular fitness routine is hard. Its hard for all the reasons we give for not being consistent. Especially starting out, give yourself a break if you miss a workout. If you miss a Monday workout, don’t give-up on the entire week. Get it done on Tuesday. Do your best to stick to a schedule and when it gets hard, focus on your intention, which is life-long, and shouldn’t be be measured on missing a workout or two.
Check out Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin! It really is a great book, even if you already have a consistent fitness routine!
What are your tips for maintaining your fitness routine? I’d love to hear them!
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