I’m home. It was an amazing month of traveling and festive dinners, but I could not be happier to be back home and stay here for a while. It is now the perfect time to kick-start my new year resolutions, starting with exercising, as I’m back with an extra four kilos (not a big deal, the cheese was worth it). I’m not a big fan of the whole sports thing, and by that, I mean I don’t exercise regularly, I’m more of the self-confess couch potato kind. I haven’t been to the gym once in a month… So, for this new year, I have been looking around for the tips to start and more importantly to stick to a workout routine. If like me (and half of the people), you resolute to be more active this year, you might be interested in a few tips to start and stick to a workout routine.
Why is it important to work out?
First thing first, I think it is important to remind ourselves of the benefit of exercising. While we all know, it is good for us, knowing exactly how and why will surely bring extra motivation. According to Michael R. Bracko, EdD, FACSM, chairman of the American College of Sports Medicine’s Consumer Information Committee, “Exercise is the magic pill”. “Exercise can literally cure diseases like some forms of heart disease. Exercise has been implicated in helping people prevent or recover from some forms of cancer. It helps people prevent and reverse depression.”
This is not too bad for a start.
Exercise will also improve your energy, mood, sleep and help to reduce anxiety and stress. Another great benefit is exercise will amps up your sex life. Improved energy and physique level can enhance your sex life. Plus, regular exercise boost arousal in women and prevent erectile dysfunction in men.
If that is not enough, exercise will tone your body. It’s not magic though, you will not instantly transform your body, you did not get out of shape overnight… However, if you start now and stick to it, you’ll be all toned up for the summer and have that bikini body.
Exercise does sound like a “magic pill”.
How to set the right mindset for a workout plan you ask?
But if knowing how and why to exercise was enough, we would all be in shape, right? Making exercise a habit takes more – we need the right mindset and a smart approach to stick to it.
My issue has never been starting a new exercise: I’ve started yoga, tennis, Zumba, fitness, Tae Bo, gym, I even started running at some point. My motivation quickly flames out and I hide behind fake reason like a busy schedule. Yep, following through is more my issue, and I know we’ve all been there at some point. So, what do we do to ensure it’s not happening this time.
You don’t have to overdo it.
A little exercise is better than nothing. Start modestly, and slowly increase the length of your workout over time. This way, you won’t burn yourselves the first week, and find it too painful to continue the second week.
Set reasonable goals.
You’re not going to excel in your new activity or enjoy it right from the beginning. You are not going to see your body change overnight. Expecting too much, too soon only leads to frustration. Instead of focusing on immediate results, focus on consistency at the beginning and remind yourself why you wanted to exercise in the first place. The improvements in mood and energy level will happen quickly, just focus on that at first. The physical payoff will come in time.
Don’t hide behind excuses.
“I hate exercising” “I’m too tired” “I’m too busy” “I’m not athletic” …
All of these are excuses, and while they might be true, there is a workaround for each of them. I do know that some of you have a very busy schedule, however there are always ways to squeeze in a few exercises, or at least strength your core with quick exercises like planking, doing a few abs when you go to bed, a few squats when you brush your teeth, or a wall sit while you go down your Instagram feed.
I’ve seen my parents who are both over 55, starting exercising 2 years ago, while they had never exercised for well over 10 years and smoke a pack a day for well over 30 years. 2 years later, they still go to the gym at least 3 times a week, they look better than ever, and they quit smoking. If they did it so can we.
“Exercise is too difficult and painful.”
“No pain, no gain” is an outdated way of thinking about exercise. Exercise shouldn’t hurt. And you don’t have to push yourself until you’re soaked in sweat or every muscle aches to get results. You can build your strength and fitness by walking, swimming, even playing golf, gardening, or cleaning the house.
“I’m not athletic.”
You still have nightmares from PE? You don’t have to be sporty or ultra-coordinated to get fit. Focus on easy ways to be more active, like walking, swimming, or even working more around the house. Anything that gets you moving will work.
Once we have the right mindset, we can start looking into what we need to make it happens.
10 tips for starting and sticking to your workout routine
Set a start date.
For me, it’s today, 10th of January 2018. If you don’t set a start date, it will be too easy to say, “I’ll start tomorrow”.
Make exercising a habit.
Do you know how long it takes for a new habit to sink in? 21 days… So, for the first month, set yourself reasonable goals (do you want to exercise 2/3 times a week, run every other day…?) and set appointments for yourself. You would not cancel an appointment with someone else, so why cancel on yourself? Stick to the rhythm you’ve planed, and who knows by the end of the month you might actually miss it if one of your session is canceled.
Adjust your nutrition.
Choosing to exercise regularly without a proper diet won’t give your body the fuel it needs. If you limit your calories intake, you will not have enough energy to work out and your metabolism will slow down. Unless you have a known allergy, you need food from each food group:
- Carbs are fuel for muscles and will keep blood sugar stable
- Vitamins and minerals improve muscular and bone strength (on top of fighting illnesses)
- Protein help build and repair damaged muscle
- Fats will oil the joints, improve brain power, and activate the amino acids in proteins.
So, don’t skip out on a food group because you believe you will see the result faster. If there is an issue you wish to fight (like being overweight or suspecting an allergy to gluten), consult a doctor and a nutritionist, they will help you set up a healthy and appropriate diet plan.
Invest in the right attire.
While I don’t exercise, I did invest in the right attire a few times, thinking it would motivate me. The truth is, knowing I have a cute outfit to show off does help! Getting started never was my issue. So, get the right shoes and clothes for your fitness routine. You want something you like, feel comfortable in, and doesn’t inhibit you from getting the most of your workouts. Aka if like me, you’ve got a holiday tummy, don’t get a crop top, it might prevent you to do abs in front of other people…
Gauge your fitness level.
Remember that you need to set goals for yourself. To set realistic goals, you need to have an idea of your fitness levels. How many sit-ups can you do? Can you reach your toes? Can you run for 20 minutes? It is easier and more motivating to start small, reach your first goals, and set new one, than overdoing it and giving up because you never achieve
Monitor your progress and rewards yourself.
When you are working out, it helps to see the numbers along the way. Concrete results can give you a clearer idea of how far you’ve come and how much farther you must go. There are many workout apps, and tech gadget to help you with that. Have a look at the selection made by Lifewire, you may find your gem there.
As your health, strength, and endurance improve, challenge yourself to see what your body is capable of in its new state. Maybe it’s time to increase your target and maybe it’s time for a reward. By now, you probably lost a few inches somewhere, and I’m sure there is an outfit out there to show it off, so splurge yourself, you deserve it.
Stretch before and after.
I’m sure you heard that one a thousand time. Warming up and cooling down are key to a beneficial workout, which is where stretching comes in. Stretching will help increase both flexibility and muscle strength and will soothe the muscle soreness.
Keep yourself accountable.
Trying to stick to an exercise routine alone tempts you to bend your rules and eventually give up. Find someone to exercise with. It could be a friend, a colleague, your better half, your children. Run while your daughter rides her bike. Go to a local track and let the kids play their own games. Run with your spouse. Sign up for a local 10K. Walk with your son. Celebrate with a little something special after every activity.
Find an exercise you like.
As we all know, doing something we love is more fun and enjoyable. I read that one in many magazines and websites, so it seems important to notice. However, to me, it’s untrue. There is no sport that I don’t enjoy, except maybe things with a ball as my coordination is not the best, I just don’t enjoy exercising. The whole sweating and paining experience is just not my thing. However, I do need to exercise, and picking something I enjoy is more likely to make me stick to it. Many of us feel the same. If sweating in a gym or pounding a treadmill isn’t your idea of a great time, try to find an activity that you do enjoy—such as dancing—or pair physical activity with something more enjoyable. Take a walk at lunchtime through a scenic park, for example, walk laps of an air-conditioned mall while window shopping, walk, run, or bike with a friend, or listen to your favorite music while you move.
Put the pain in perspective.
When the going gets tough, remember that you have survived 600 carpools, 540 loads of laundry (this month), 41 baseball games, 230 dinners and one family vacation. What’s the big deal?
Now, if you weren’t already convinced that consistent exercise is legit, are you feeling pumped and ready to go?
So, hop hop hop ladies, let’s go the gym, tell me all about your journey and next time you brush your teeth, squeeze in 30 squats.
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