It’s first on almost everyone’s New Year’s resolutions list every year, on repeat – “commit to fitness” or “get in shape”. This has definitely been on the top of my list for many years in the past.
I commit to be fit come January 1st and start off great! This might be a new exercise routine, gym membership, a new initiative to start running, always a new diet plan, and usually a combination of them all.
But my resolutions would never last past March, or maybe April if I was really motivated that particular year.
Yep, like many of you, I used to have a love-hate relationship with exercise. I would love how I’d feel after completing a workout, but hated every minute I’d spend on the elliptical.
Even though most of us feel guilty when we don’t exercise, we still find it difficult to commit to a routine and stick with it, right?
Well finally, I have figured out the secret of how to commit to fitness in a lasting way. It’s no longer on my New Years’ resolution list. It doesn’t need to be because I’ve made it a part of my life in a way that works for me and now I actually want to exercise.
I find it hard to believe too, but it’s the truth!
What’s the secret you ask? How did you finally commit to fitness?
No big secret actually. It simply involved a mindset shift.
If you read my recent post related to body image, you know that I’ve always wanted to be thinner and smaller than I am. I was not an athletic kid and as I got older, I viewed exercise as something I HAD to do in order to be thin.
I would go through phases where I’d consistently work out and I’d feel great about it because it was helping me meet my primary goal, which was to lose weight. I was so focused on being thin, not necessarily on being healthy.
Then after a few months, I’d get bored of my exercise routine and tired of sticking to my restrictive diet plan. I’d find it harder and harder to push myself out the door and into the gym. So, I’d simply stop going.
Of course, I’d feel guilty and bad about myself and so after some time, I’d find the motivation to get back into it and I’d start working out again.
This would be an endless cycle throughout my 20’s and 30’s, along with my yo-yo dieting that resulted in the loss and gain of the same 10lbs year after year.
Then 2020 happened.
In 2020, when we were all stuck at home during the pandemic, I’d find myself ready to explode with tension after running around the house all day like a mad woman trying to help both kids with their online schooling, keep up with the constant pile of dishes in the sink, figure out 3 meals a day for a family of four, make sure we were stocked up on sanitizer, cleaning supplies, toilet paper, and the list goes on.
You all remember how it was. I doubt I have to remind you.
I started exercising in the late afternoons in an effort to clear my head and release some tension. Let’s be real, I’d go out for a walk just to get a freakin minute to myself! I can remember getting out into the fresh air and literally feeling the stress and anxiety drain out of my body.
I started biking, walking, or jogging regularly just to take a mental break. I realized that after partaking in some physical movement, I always returned home feeling more relaxed and positive.
I wasn’t on a mission to burn calories in order to crush some new weight loss goal. Not at all. I just wanted my sanity back and exercise was helping with that!
For the first time in my life, I started viewing exercise as something I could do to take care of my mental health, not just to meet my physical appearance goals.
THIS WAS THE MINDSET SHIFT.
Of course I always knew in theory that exercise was good for my mental health, but it wasn’t until I was able to let go of my diet culture mentality that told me I should exercise, that I became a person who actually wanted to exercise.
Once I was able to change my mindset in regards to why I was exercising, I found that committing to fitness was easy and was actually helping to improve many aspects of my life. Working out has now become an integral part of how I practice self-care.
It has helped me to be more centered and grounded, less stressed. I started incorporating exercise into a morning routine that has provided me dedicated time for self-reflection, clarity and space within my day to focus on what really matters to me in life, and an increase in my productivity and energy levels.
This mindset shift has been a game changer for me. It’s truly made all the difference, but there are also other small tricks that have helped.
Here are my 4 bonus tips for how to stick to a workout routine:
1.) Find an exercise routine that fits your personality and lifestyle.
I used to belong to a gym up until COVID and I found it a real struggle to get myself there. I had to push myself out the door on a weekend morning, squeeze it in before or after work, or schlep my toddler with me to the gym daycare feeling guilty my entire workout because I knew he didn’t like it there. The gym wasn’t the best fit for my lifestyle.
I’ve found that working out at home suits me better. I prefer to exercise outside in nice weather, but living on the east coast, there are many months when it’s too cold or hot for that. So yes, I took the plunge and I purchased a Peloton bike.
It was a big purchase and I realize not everyone can afford this, but sometimes making a financial investment in your fitness will actually motivate you to stick with it.
That doesn’t mean you have to go out and buy a Peloton bike or spend tons of money, but you could invest in some inexpensive multi-use equipment to use at home like a stability ball, weights, a yoga mat, and more. All of these items can have multiple uses like core work, weight training, cardio, and yoga. Click here to see a collection of home use fitness equipment that I have and recommend. None of these items will break the bank!
Or you may prefer the group experience and in that case, you could invest in a gym membership or group fitness classes. Check out meetup.com for fitness groups near you (many are free) or ClassPass which is a membership app to book group fitness classes near your location at any participating gym or studio. It has different pricing tiers, but you can try it for free and also use it for virtual fitness classes from all around the country or for spa and salon services as well.
The takeaway is that there are many options available, you just have to find one that fits your personality and lifestyle.
2.) Split up your workouts
My go-to excuse for not making a consistent effort to exercise regularly used to be that I didn’t have time.
I get that it can be challenging to fit a workout into your hectic schedule. Many of you are juggling a career, taking care of your kids, along with a multitude of other obligations.
When my kids were younger, I used to work out during nap time, as this was really the only time I could find. That was tough for me because it was my only downtime during the day, but at that point I was determined to lose the baby weight and thus, I made it a priority.
These days, I wake up before the rest of my household to do my morning routine and it starts with exercise. This is what works best for me during this season of life. Sometimes it’s just a 30 minute cycling class and that’s all I need to set the pace for a more calm, intentional, and productive day.
If you find that you truly can’t carve out even a 30-minute block of exercise in your daily schedule, then split it up!
Research shows that split workouts can be just as effective as long as cumulatively, you are doing 150 minutes of heart-pumping physical activity per week. So if you are going to work out 5 days/week, that is just 30 minutes per day. That could be a 10 minute weight-training workout before your morning shower and a 20 minute brisk walk or run later in the day. Save the longer workouts for the weekend if need be.
The key is to do something. Even 10 minutes of exercise is better than none at all, so do what you can!
3.) Dress the part
When I wake up in the morning, I put on my workout clothes. Just wearing the clothes motivates me to want to work out! Dressing the part puts me in the right mindset, but that doesn’t mean I spend a ton of money on my workout wardrobe. Quite the opposite!
Pretty much all of my workout clothes have been purchased at off-price retailers like Marshall’s, TJMaxx, and online at Amazon. I’ve put together a little collection here of the inexpensive workout brands and styles I love to wear.
Just because you are not spending top dollar, does not mean you have to sacrifice quality, comfort, functionality, or fashion!
4.) Plan ahead for your workout
It’s also important to prepare for your workout with the things you’ll need. If you plan to go to the gym, pack your gym bag ahead of time, as in the night before. Be sure to have towels, water, a mat, and any other equipment you may need readily available if you’ll be working out at home.
The less you have to do to get ready right before your workout, the better.
Also, for at-home workouts, I believe that having a dedicated space in your home is beneficial. It is your safe space to take time for yourself. I have my Peloton bike in our guest room/office. I have a nice (fake) plant in the room, some scented candles, and a fan. I love going in there and just zoning out by myself.
Even if you do not have space in your home for a separate room in which to work out, find a dedicated area that works for you and add some elements that will enhance your workout experience like some great motivational wall art and extra towels, put on some noise-canceling headphones (I have these cute rose gold color ones) and start breaking a sweat!
I hope after reading this post, you have come to realize that the secret to making exercise a priority in your life is not really a secret at all.
You just have to change your mindset. It’s that simple.
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Carly is a wife, mom, and former fashion industry executive turned blogger, who is on a journey to live life as the best version of herself. Through her website, littlevoicebigmatter.com, she shares practical advice and heartfelt insights to inspire and support women in motherhood, relationships, wellness, and life.