I got an email from someone the other day who said she was having a really hard time sticking to a fitness program and wanted to know how to make exercising easier, or at the very least, how to make a mindset shift so she didn’t hate it so much.
She said she’s been struggling with her weight since having kids, and that she’s been trying on and off for years to find some sort of exercise routine that she could get herself to stick with because she knows that it’s important and that it’s good for her and we should all be getting more exercise in our lives.
Relating to the struggle
I had to laugh, mostly because I’m about the last person who should ever be giving anyone exercise or fitness advice. In reading her email, I felt like I was reading my own story. I don’t have any kind of weight issue (I’m well within a healthy weight for my height and age), but I can totally relate to this reader’s struggle from the perspective of trying to maintain strength, flexibility, and above all muscle tone, since having kids.
I have, however, recently started a new fitness program that I am determined to stick with. And so far, it seems to be going well. So what’s the big difference this time? Why am I sticking with it so far when I’ve always fallen off the wagon before?
Tips to make exercise easier
Here are the three things that I’ve learned that have helped me make exercise easier by turning it from a “should” to a “want”:
Tip #1: Get clear on what you want to achieve
The first thing to keep in mind is that your particular goals when it comes to exercise are not necessarily going to be the same as anyone else’s – and that’s OK. Not everyone wants to look like a body-builder, for heaven’s sake. And not everyone wants to train for a triathlon. So think about what YOU want to achieve – what does “getting fit” mean to you?
In my case, what’s been popping up into my mind more and more lately is that I really want to improve my muscle tone and regain my flexibility. Those two, specific, things are what I wanted to focus on. At this specific point, I’m not interested in cardio or anything else. Which makes it much easier to decide what kind of fitness program to implement.Figure out what 'getting fit' means to YOU; not everyone wants to be a bodybuilder! #fitnesstip Click To Tweet
For other people, all they really want to do is get moving more. They just want to go out for a leisurely walk every day at lunch, five days a week. And that’s fantastic! Figure out what’s important to you, and don’t pay any attention to what everyone else says you should be doing. Start small, and start with what appeals to you.
Tip #2: Think about what works for you
The next thing to think about is your own personality and preferences when it comes to this kind of stuff. If you absolutely hate running, for example, then don’t try and make yourself get up and go for a jog every morning because you are going to find any and every excuse you possibly can to get yourself out of doing it.
For me, I hate getting sweaty. And I really hate getting sweaty in public. And I really, really, really hate open concept showers. Going to a gym, then, is probably not the best move for me. Finding ways to work on my fitness goals from the comfort of my own home, however, is definitely something that appeals to me.
Also, some people like the intense-from-the-beginning bootcamp kind of scenarios, and others prefer a toe-dipping approach that makes it easy to build up their capabilities over time. (If you’re new to the whole exercise thing, don’t push yourself too hard at the beginning or you will hurt yourself!) I’m a toe-dipper, myself; I like to work my way up from the really easy to the harder stuff.
Tip #3: Make it fun – no “should” allowed!
What I have learned is that you need to find something that “fits” for you and that doesn’t feel like yet another chore you have to add to your endless daily task lists, especially when you’re already juggling kids, their social schedules (can anyone say “endless stream of birthday parties”?), work, and everything else in your life.
In other words, as with all things, if it feels like a “should” it’s not going to be a good thing. It’s about finding a way to turn exercise into something you actually want to do, rather than something you’re making yourself do, even though raking yourself over hot coals or taking up DIY dentistry sounds infinitely more appealing.#Fitness tip: When it comes to #exercise, if it ain't fun, you ain't gonna do it! Click To Tweet
In even more other words: if it ain’t fun, you ain’t gonna do it.
What it looks like in real life
So what does this end up looking like in real life? For me, I decided on what specific muscle areas I wanted to target and I searched Pinterest for exercises that worked those areas. And lo and behold, what did I find but this really amazing web site that has a bunch of awesome 30 day challenges that start off super easy and build up in intensity with each passing day, AND which also has cute little animated .GIFs to show you how to do each exercise.
For me, these are perfect for what I want to accomplish right now. And because they are so easy to do at the beginning, I’m not even looking for excuses not to do them… and with each day that I do them, it reinforces a habit of exercising every day, without making me feel like it’s a “should”. A little bit mental self-trickery, but it works so well.
My hope is that once I’ve done the 30 day challenges (I’m doing five simultaneously), I’ll be ready, and wanting, to get back on the treadmill.
What do you do to make exercising easier? If you ever struggled with starting a regular fitness routine, how did you get over the initial “hump” and keep going with it?