Staying in shape is easy for me; it's part of my routine; it's my lifestyle. But I know it isn't easy for everyone. Fitness is a hard habit to adopt! It takes a lot of dedication and commitment to stick with a fitness regimen when it's NOT something you love; when it's not something you're comfortable with. I know . . .I see the January People sign up at my gym every year. I see them crowd the cardio equipment and disrupt the running track and cause jams in the pool. And then, sadly, I see most of them disappear before the end of the month!
Today, Carole has us thinking about Ten Tips for Sticking With Your Fitness Routine -- a great topic (especially if you need a little push to keep going with your January fitness goals!). I've been a cheerleader for many of my fitness-seeking friends over the years -- and here's what I usually tell them:
- Find a fitness activity that suits YOU. If you can find an activity that you can actually LIKE doing, you'll be much more apt to do it - and to find joy in it. When I was a kid, I loved dancing -- so it makes sense that I still find joy in dancing. If this is true for you, find an aerobic dance class -- or try Zumba or step aerobics or something where you can move your body to music. If you liked playing in the water, try a water exercise class or swim laps. If you liked racing your bike around the neighborhood, try a spin class. And if you like curling up in ball to watch tv or read books, try yoga! Just think back to things you liked to do as a kid -- and find a way to translate that activity to a fitness routine. Because that kid is still there -- waiting to move again!
- Work out in a convenient location. If you have to drive out of your way to get to your gym, it will be easy to opt out of going. Check out the gym options close to either where you live or where you work; it's all about convenience. Make it EASY to get yourself to the gym!
- Listen to your body. Know that there will be pain involved in getting yourself in shape. Learn to tell the difference between muscle aches and stiffness -- and injury. You don't want injuries to sideline you --- but you also don't want normal aches and stiffness to stop you from moving forward either. There are ways to modify most exercises and fitness activities to accomodate all types of injuries and disabilities. Yeah, none of us are as young as we used to be -- that's for sure! But we can still get moving -- at the level and pace that's right each of us.
- Figure out the way you like to exercise. Do you like social aspects of exercise? Try a class. Do you need structure . . . and a kick in the butt? Hire a personal trainer. Do you need peer pressure to keep you moving? Find a workout buddy. If you match the setting/surroundings to your preferred way of working out, you'll be much happier and more likely to keep at it!
- Make working out a priority. I schedule my workout times on my calendar as if I were scheduling an appointment or meeting. And then, I schedule other things AROUND my workouts.
- Give new things a chance. If you haven't worked out regularly for awhile, my guess is that you're not going to love it right away. Lots of people quit before they even start to feel the benefits of their hard work. So, accept that you won't like it right away . . . but that you might with enough time. A couple of years ago, I wanted to add something different to my fitness routine -- to kind of shake things up again. I decided to try spinning -- which looked just stupid and pointless to me at the time. I figured I'd hate it, but I made a deal with myself: I told myself I had to try it 6 times before I could decide whether I really hated it. By my third spinning class, I was turning the corner, and by the sixth, I was sold. I've been spinning 2 or 3 times a week ever since. Give new things a chance - try them enough times to get over the initial discomfort.
- Wear the right clothes. I'm not talking about fashion here -- I'm talking about function! Invest in a good, supportive pair of shoes -- appropriate for your chosen sport -- and keep them available ONLY for working out. A supportive, comfortable sports bra (that fits!) is a must. And shirts, shorts, and socks made of wicking materials will keep you comfortable during your workout. (Nothing feels worse than cotton t-shirts and sweatpants that sop up the sweat and weigh you down.)
- Set your own pace -- but put push yourself. Set goals. Use a journal. Or an app. Chart your progress. Reward yourself. Don't compare yourself to other people -- this is your individual journey.
- Find some cheerleaders. It's easier to keep going, even when you really don't want to, when you've got some friends cheering you on. Find the support you need -- people who will follow your progress, encourage you, and kick you in the butt when you need it. (And avoid those who want to pull you down . . . to sit on the couch with them. . . and just, well, not go. . .)
- Use music. When I work out, I like classes with good music that makes me keep moving even when I don't want to. And I like it LOUD! When I'm not in a class, I have my iPod workout playlist handy. Songs can inspire. Remember Rocky? Yeah. Music.
- (Sorry. Can't help myself) Don't be afraid to sweat! Work hard. Push yourself. SWEAT!
Mostly, remember that it takes a long time to develop good habits. At least 21 days, they say -- but, when it comes to a commitment like fitness, it tends to take longer.
Just do it!
(And if you want a virtual cheerleader, let me know.)
Join the fun! Sign up for Ten on Tuesday here.