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For our last blog post of the beginner season, we will discuss some tips and tricks on keeping your exercise habit trucking. How do you keep things going once you’re over that initial couple of weeks, even a month of consistency, and the reality is setting in that this is a (hopefully) lifelong process that you’re committing to?
Firstly, start small! Don’t try and do too much too soon. You see this play out on your social media every year. Folk try to kick off about 3 different new year’s resolutions at once, they want to exercise, lose weight, read three books a week, and do Duolingo every day. It never works out, best case scenario they might stick to one of those, but more likely than not it’ll all come crashing down after a few weeks. It’s just too big a change all at once. Aim lower, start with amounts of almost trivial change, and build up from there.
Schedule your exercise. Pretend it’s just like any other appointment, even if you don’t work with a PT or coach, pretend it’s a work meeting. Try to make time for it at a place in your day where you never have any other conflicting activities if possible, and no, Netflix doesn’t count. We recently sent out a goal hierarchy worksheet to our newsletter subscribers that helps you do this exact bit of admin, so if you’re interested in that please sign up below.
Find an activity you enjoy. Exercise really doesn’t have to be boring or tedious. There are thousands of ways to exercise and finding one that jives with you might take a bunch of experimentation, but it’s worth it in the long run. There’s everything from hot yoga, dance classes and swimming, powerlifting, CrossFit, kayaking and everything in between. Think about things you enjoy and try to look for exercise classes or structures that are based on or include that thing.
Mix it up. One thing that can really tank motivation after the initial surge is the tedium of the routine. This is why I advise mixing up your workouts or activities. Even better, is to save the variety one for when things are really starting to get boring, and then sprinkle them in. Like having a break glass in case of low motivation button, keep them for emergencies only, and that way they keep their restorative powers.
Create accountability. This isn’t just limited to exercise, but a super easy way to hold yourself accountable to stuff is just to tell people that you're doing it, then they’ll typically ask about it most times that they see you, and that small inkling of pressure can help spur you on. Some people find having a PT or a gym buddy a great help for this reason. You build a routine together, and there’s an expectation that you’ll be turning up, which can really help you get in gear and get to those sessions you really don’t want to go to.
Reward yourself. Celebrate your exercise-related accomplishments. A small caveat, probably don’t celebrate with a calorie-dense meal out, as that will likely pull against your overall aims with exercise, however, some self-care activities such as a spa treatment, or buying new workout clothes are excellent rewards for exercise accomplishments! You want to try and think of things that will compound your motivation and desire to exercise, not subtract from it.
Track your progress. Somewhere in the back of a cupboard I still have the first workout my friend in school wrote for us both to do back in 2006/7. It can be incredibly rewarding to see how far you’ve come in your exercise journey, especially at times when you feel like you aren’t getting anywhere. Plateaus do happen, and we’ll be covering what to do about that in our next month of content, aimed at people already well on their way with exercise.
Please also remember that building a habit takes time and effort, you have to put both the time and the work in. It won't be a straight upward road. But eventually, it will just become part of your routine and personality as a whole.
Hopefully, you found some of these tips helpful, and if you have any comments on them, or want to let us know any tips you use to stay on track, please let us know in the comments below. @atsapproved on all social media.