Two words that most people don’t see going in the same sentence. How can exercise be something you “just do”? If you’re not one of those people who enjoy exercise (there are more out there than you may think!) how can it ever not be a forced activity in your day?
I remember when my workout felt like a chore. It was painful to drag myself to the gym (or in front of a P90X video) and get started. Once I did start it was fine, but getting started was the worst part of my day. I would so rather be sleeping, watching tv, shopping, eating, ANYTHING but working out.
But we all know that exercise is good for us. It’s not necessary to workout 7 days a week but according to the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology, you should get at least 150 minutes per week (source).
So how can you make this a habit; something you just do without thinking about? Here are my 6 tips for making exercise a non-negotiable part of your day:
1. Have a Clear Vision
There is a difference between a goal to lose weight or be fit vs. losing weight or getting fit to reach your goal. I’m not exercising to lose weight or to look good for a specific event. I’m in it for life. I want to feel sexy and confident every day. I want to have energy and regular sleeping & eating patterns. I want to live long enough to see my children’s, children have children. And I want to be the best possible version of myself so I can be my best for others.
I think being fit and healthy will allow me to be all of these things.
Having my priorities straight is what keeps me going back to the gym day after day. Shallow goals are too easy to make excuses for. For example, I strength train because I want to have functional strength for everyday activities. If my goal was to be able to squat 100 lbs, it would be a lot easier to put that off for another day, and then another…
2. Plan Your Week
Every Sunday I take a look at the upcoming week and my work/personal commitments. I schedule my workouts from Monday-Saturday around those plans. For example, on a travel day I may need to work out a little later in the evening or if I have dinner plans with friends, I’ll hit the gym in the morning before work.
I have a to-do list for each day which includes my meals and fitness for that day. It doesn’t always have to be perfect; some nights are busy, canned soup nights (Amy‘s are the best!) and sometimes the best workout I can squeeze in is 30 minutes on the elliptical. Regardless, having a plan keeps me on track.
3. Prep The Night Before
If I know I’m taking a yoga class the following day, my mat, towel & yoga bag are sitting by the door. If I’m working out in the morning, I’m sure to have an on-the-go breakfast ready like these vegan overnight oats!
Laying everything out the night before saves a lot of time and stress in the morning. Plus, you will be less likely to forget your socks or headphones and you’ll show up with the right gear! I’d prefer not to do BodyAttack in a Free-To-Be bra 😉
4. Choose Workouts You Enjoy
If you hate spin (like me), don’t spin. Just because it’s amazing cardio doesn’t mean its for everyone. I’d rather do 10,000 burpees. If it’s a gorgeous day out and you’re dreading the gym, go for a run outside. When it comes to exercise, there is something for everyone. Just to name a few:
- Organized sports – Join a basketball team or a dance club
- Casual sports – Have a tennis match with your bestie or go snowshoeing
- Running/walking – Go solo, with a friend, join a running group, or go all out and start marathon training
- Group fitness classes – Both Les Mills and the YMCA offer something for everyone who thrives in a group atmosphere
- The gym – TRX, weight lifting, cardio machines
- Home workout videos – Beach Body videos (i.e. P90X), Jillian Michaels, TIU
- Online fitness – Blogilates, You Tube videos
The list goes on…
5. Commit to Friends
If you tell someone your going to be there, you probably will. When I was in university I always worked out with my friend Britt. I remember a lot of mornings wishing we hadn’t made plans to be at the gym first thing, but I wasn’t about to be the one to back out. Afterwards, I was always SO glad I dragged myself out of bed. Usually once our weekly schedule was set, we rarely missed a workout.
Meeting friends to workout can be a bit of a social thing too. I love having company for a yoga class or a circuit and you wouldn’t believe the cool people you meet through healthy living 😉
6. Acknowledge & Celebrate Progress!
Of course doing something over and over will get frustrating if you aren’t seeing any results, but remember your weight is not the only indicator of progress. There are a number of factors that can prove you are making headway:
- Body measurements
- Body fat percentage
- Blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol
- How your clothes feel
- Energy levels
Remember to set realistic, sustainable goals (see #1) and celebrate even the smallest successes! If you beat your 5k time, maybe buy yourself a new pair of running shorts. If you’re at a plateau, reassess your routine and make some changes.
Exercise needs to be fun and enjoyable or it will never be a habit. It can be all of these things if above all, you want it to be. You need to decide for yourself that you want to live a healthy, active lifestyle; that you want to be fit & healthy and are willing to work for it.
You are the only person who can make those things happen. Not your gym buddy, not your trainer, not Jillian Michaels… YOU! So get out your to-do list, plan your week, and pack your gym bag. There’s no time like the present… 🙂
Here’s to healthy habits!