Wednesday, October 9, 2013

How to make exercise a habit (or keep the habit going)

So many people want a healthy lifestyle but are afraid to start or re-start an exercise program or change their diet. It is scary, it takes work, time, dedication. Diet is half and sometimes half the battle, but working out is something that many many many people struggle with.  It is called a work out because it is work.  I struggled for years with this, as I worked out every day of my life from the time I was like 12 through college. So once I got out of college, it was hard for me to make the time to do it or even find the motivation to work out. I gained weight slowly over a 10 year period and became more and more miserable as my weight came on. I went from a slender 130lb all muscle girl size 3/4 to slowly creep up over the years to 175lb flabby size 14/16. I was able to reclaim that 135lb girl, and then maintain at 140-145 lbs once I added weights back into my routine. If I can do it, I know you can too. Try some or all of these steps:

Commit for Thirty Days – Make a commitment to work out every day (even just for 10 minutes) for one month. This will get it on your calendar and will help make it a habit.. 21 days and it is a habit!

Start Small - Do not start running 5 miles your first run or do Insanity/P90x if you have not worked out in years. Build up to it. Run a mile, find a 10/30 min video to do first, and gradually work up to your goal!  That way you do not burn yourself out or feel like a failure when you do not meet your goal. Rome wasn't built in a  day and your weight did not come on over night. It will take time. Moving slowly will not only help make this a habit but will also help your skin shrink along with your weight!

Embrace the Soreness - When you begin or re-begin a new work out, you will be sore. Embrace the soreness! It is your body changing for the better.  Remember if you have to start over this is going to happen again, so push through the pain!  Invest in Icy Hot or Bengay (they even come in non smelly formulas and definitely help with the pain)

Reward Yourself for Working Out – Most people the biggest issue is going to the gym or pressing play, so reward yourself (not with food you are not a dog) I barter with myself, especially on a long run, if I get to the next stop sign I can do 5 less push-ups, if I have to walk I have to do 5 more. Or if I finish a program like Insanity, I rewarded myself with Les Mills Combat, something a little less intense but one that I knew I would love!

Don’t Stop – The easiest way to keep things going is simply not to stop. Avoid long breaks in exercising or rebuilding the habit will take some effort. This may be advice a little too late for some people. But if you have an exercise habit going, don’t drop it at the first sign of trouble.  Figure out a way to keep going. It is so much easier that way then to start again!

Create a Ritual - If you work out at the same time and place every day, your work out becomes a part of your normal routine like brushing your teeth. My husband when we first lived together used to get upset with me on Sat and Sun mornings when he said "let's do breakfast" and I said,  "Yes that sounds yummy, let me work out first and I will be ready to go."  He did not understand the concept of waking up and then working out immediately was and is my routine. If I stray from it and go to breakfast before I work out, I will never get that work out in. Same with work days, I work out as soon as I wake up. If I wait, then the time has passed and I have moved on with my day. For me working on in the morning is what I do to wake up and move forward. Find a time of day when you can create the same routine and before long you will work out as if it was a natural thing to do.

Stress Relief - Workout is the reason why my stress level is low. I am proof that workout decreases your stress. Before I worked out daily, everything got to me. You could hear me cry out in the office in frustration, I was miserable to be around when issues arose, as I could not calm myself down. Now I no longer cry out, I am able to realize stress is rising, count to 10, breath and let those happy endorphins from the mornings workout carry through. If I have an extra rough day, I come home and do a 2nd work out to release those bad vibes from the day. Working out is a GREAT stress reliever and in the words of Ella Woods, "Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don't shoot their husbands, they just don't."

Make it Fun – If you don’t enjoy yourself when working out, then it is going to be hard to keep it a habit. There are so many  you can exercise, so don’t give up, find something you love, whether it is riding a stationary bike while watching your fave tv shows, doing a video, fitness class, run or just going to the gym. Make it fun!

Schedule During Your Least Busiest Time of  Day– I do mine in the morning, not because I am a morning person, but because it is my only quiet time that I know that I am the only one that is preventing me from working out. It is on my schedule daily to wake up and do a video.   Right after work or first thing in the morning are often good places to put it, depending on your schedule. My schedule fills up after work so mornings are best even though I am NOT a morning person!

Workout with a friend– Grab a friend to join you. This holds you accountable to someone else and them to you. It is easier to keep the habit if you have someone to work out with, plus it makes it social and not all work. I did this in college and it really helped me to keep that habit going when my friends were still sleeping or at the bars :D

Reflect on what you enjoy about the work out - After you finish any work out, think about what parts you loved!  Focusing on those will make you want to do it again!

Scales Lie- Weight isn't always the best number to track. Increase in muscle can offset decreases in fat so the scale doesn't change even if your body is (and honestly sometimes it goes up not down). Instead of focusing on the scale, look out how many more sit ups, push ups, burpees, miles you have increased from the last time. Keep track of those, also take pics every 30 days to see how you look. Even taking measurements, helps you keep on track! Ignore the scale!

Habits First – People tend to run out and buy everything they think they will need to force them to work out. All of that fancy equipment doesn't create a habit. Start with something free, I did Couch Potato to 5k and Ondemand Fitness videos on Comcast Every day I would do a video in the morning then go running 3 times a week for the program. I created my habit, I already had a bike at home and started using for the first time in 10 years (yes.. It was a clothing rack before then). I then bought Insanity, and went down my Beachbody path. I started owning my own stuff once I knew I would definitely do it and it wasn't a waste of money. Start slow, even if it is a $10 gym membership then work up to what fits your needs.

Find Your Weakness - If you are one who starts to work out but falls off the wagon quickly like my loving husband, find out why. It is the type of exercise, it is that you cannot get motivated, you are too tired in the evenings and cannot get up in time in the mornings, do you not like the gym, do you not like working out at home?  Figure out why. His is he works long hours, cannot work out in the morning, does not have a set schedule so cannot set a time in the evenings and cannot motivate himself on the weekends to go. He is a gym guy, he cannot stand working out at home, so he joins multiple gyms at once to try to find one that will fit his needs and make him work out. For him even the one in walking distance and open 24 hours is not working for him, he needs one that is literally on his way home from work, so that he has to make a conscious decision not to go work out. As soon as you figure out your weakness, you can make steps to improve the situation and make working out a habit that you will not quit!

Work out for YOU –  The only person you need to work out for is YOU!  You are not going to keep up the habit if you are working out to meet someone at the gym, because your partner thinks you should etc. I never force my husband to go to the gym, he has to want too. I encourage him and give him tons of praise when he does go. He encourages me to work out, and knows that I will do breakfast after my work out. We support each other in our fitness goals, but do not force the issue. If there is a day where I need to take off or do yoga, he supports me. If you go to the gym to have people to date, just remember you are going to have to see them or switch gyms if it doesn't work out. Focus on you and the rest will fall into place.

You can do this!  Find what works for you and know that people like me are out there to help support you. Find me at Beachbody or Facebook. I am happy to help you in your fitness needs!

Have a very fit day!

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