12 Ways to Stick with an Exercise Program

Are you great with setting intentions, resolutions and goals around your fitness, yet fail to follow-thru in the long run? Do you really, truly want to have a consistent workout schedule but just don’t know how to fit it in? Have you tried different exercises, yet nothing seems to help shed the extra pounds?

Friends, you’re not alone. It’s super common to have grand goals yet have trouble following through. Check out my recent blog post on How to Stop Self-Sabotaging Yourself in 4 Simple Steps. Reasons for throwing in the towel include life is hectic, accountability is scarce, it’s not fun, there’s no time, or the biggie, you just hate to workout. Or, maybe you really, really, want to have a regular exercise routine but just can’t seem to stick with it. 

You’re in the right place!

Keep reading to learn how you can turn self-sabotage into self-love by giving your body what it needs to be healthy and well, movement! 

12 ways to start and stick with your fitness routine:

1- Do it for yourself

This sounds kind of obvious, but in our comparison laden society it can be easy to want to measure up or keep up with others. This external motivation rarely results in long lasting change. Yet, when you’re internally motivated and rooted in your ‘why’, nothing can stop you! Take time to get curious about why you want to start an exercise program. Is it to lose weight? Is it to fit into your favorite jeans? Is it to manage stress or improve sleep? Is it because you want to be healthy and well into your 90s? Figure out your why and you will be internally motivated to succeed. 

2- Break down a big goal into smaller steps.

Saying you want to start working out to lose 30 pounds sounds like a big goal. Big goals can be intimidating and create overwhelm which leads to inaction. Break this goal down into smaller goals like losing 2-3 pounds a month. The thought of losing 2-3 pounds a month sounds very doable. As you achieve that first smaller goal, you’ll have momentum heading into month 2. The process becomes easier and as you start to see tangible results your commitment level will soar. 

You may also like: Setting Goals with Soul.

3- Be easy on yourself

It takes time to master a new routine – up to 3 weeks in fact. The first week may be rough. Prepare and expect this so you’re not tempted to quit. The brain likes familiarity. Starting anything new, particularly an exercise program, creates mental resistance. Studies show it takes up to 3 weeks for new neural pathways to be created, after which point mental resistance typically wanes. To help ease into a new fitness routine, start small. Instead of going to the gym for an hour, go for 30 minutes, or even 15 minutes. Start super small if you have to, until you get to a point where you can push yourself a little more. 

4- Don’t wait for motivation

Discipline is where it’s at! Some of us wait ‘to be motivated’ which is great until you stop feeling motivated! For example, if the only time you can workout is before work in the morning and it’s dark, cold, and rainy outside, you’re going to be tempted to stay in bed. Motivation is fickle that way. Discipline is not. Discipline drags your booty out of bed despite the weather, time or day of the week. Consider if you are governed by discipline or motivation. 

5- Variety is your friend

Mix up your workouts. It’s not only easier on your body, it will help you to avoid getting in an exercise rut. Doing the same workout week after week, yawn! Find 3-6 physical activities you enjoy that you can rotate in each week. Have the 1st and 3rd weeks of the month be one weekly schedule, and the 2nd and 4th weeks be a different schedule. After about 2-3 months, create a new alternating weekly workout schedule. You keep boredom at bay, your body is continually challenged, and it will help protect your body from injury.

6- Honor your starting point

Start out slow. Give yourself time to adjust physically to the new fitness routine. If a weight workout left you super sore for 2 days, that’s okay. Use those days to walk or to practice gentle yoga. Every day you have a scheduled workout isn’t going to be a max day. Your body needs rest and recovery. It’s an important component of a fitness routine that is often overlooked. Listen to your body.

7- Have a mode of accountability

Some of us can hold ourselves accountable, others need a trainer, health coach, workout buddy or group of friends. Some need financial accountability by paying for a membership or buying class pack. Whether it is personal, professional, social or financial accountability, find what works for you. For your long-term success, it’s important to figure out what will get you to do what you say you want to do. To learn more about the importance of accountability, check out this blog post.  Health coaching can be an invaluable way to get accountability and support to reach your goals! Schedule a call with me here to learn more. 

8- Set a goal of minutes per week not exercise days

Experts say that 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week is optimal. That turns out to be 5 days a week at 30 minutes of exercising. If the thought of committing to 5 days a week of exercising makes you feel stressed, consider logging minutes. It adds up fast. Taking the stairs at the office, going on a 15-minute walk at lunch, cleaning the house, walking your dog, a 30-minute yoga sequence, a 20-minute jog, a 50-minute barre class. Mix and match to get to your 150 minutes. 

9- Look at your fitness routine as a habitual part of your day

…like any other self-care practice. For the results to be long-lasting, a fitness routine must shift from a ‘have to’ to a ‘want to’. It’s a lifestyle shift. To maintain gains, you’ve got to stick with it just like with nutrition, self-care practices and relationships. What you put in, is what you’ll get back out. Shifting your perspective around this is a game-changer. Decide that living healthy and exercising regularly is a new way of life for you. It will then become a non-negotiable. 

10- Know your exercise personality type

If you hate the heat, taking a hot yoga class isn’t a great choice for you. If the weight room intimates you, try a class that promotes strength training, or work with a personal trainer for a couple weeks to learn how the equipment works. (And a side-note, the goal of a good trainer should be to empower you to design workouts for yourself, and not to be dependent on them. So, don’t feel like you can’t work with a trainer for a couple of sessions to learn the equipment.) Learning your exercise personality type is about knowing yourself and what you enjoy (which is usually what you’re good at). Do you enjoy team sports? Working out with friends, or having it be your precious alone time? As you learn the activities you enjoy most, which might come with some trial and error, and who you like to do them with, you’ll be much more likely to stick with it. 

11- Be wary of trends and pitches for quick gains

We live in an instantaneous gratification society. Folks want quick results, like yesterday. View your exercise routine as a lifestyle choice designed to last for the long haul. Short term gains are just that, short term. They rarely last. Sustainable change takes consistent effort and commitment. Pass on the quick fix and use the above tips to create a long-lasting sustainable program.
Lastly, and most importantly…

12- Be nice to yourself

If you’ve been sick or travelling and have missed some workouts, be easy on yourself. Perfection is neither realistic nor attainable especially when it comes to your fitness routine. There is always tomorrow to start back up and carry on. Remember you’re in this for the long haul. Be mindful of how you speak to yourself. If your mean girl is coming out, tell her to leave. Like ASAP!

Number 12 is my favorite! Cultivating self-love is the key to success. Suggestions 1-11 won’t help you much without a healthy sense of love and respect for yourself. You deserve to feel your best. You’re worth it! So, get moving sister!

If you need more support the Renew your Health Plan is a 4-week coaching intensive to help you tackle your top health goal. If reducing low-grade inflammation is a must for you, let’s connect. I will create a fully customized, evergreen plan just for you so you start looking and feeling your best right away! You deserve it.

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Ashley Logan is a Certified Integrative Health and Well-Being Coach, mentor, writer and workshop facilitator who guides clients to create actionable strategies that support their physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellness for optimal health. She is a certified RYT-200 hour yoga instructor and double-certified Integrative Health and Well-Being Coach from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition and Duke Health Integrative Medicine. She embraces her clients' individuality and customizes her coaching modalities to maximize results. She specializes in sustainable behavioral change.


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