A few weeks into the new year and already so many of my friends have asked me how I manage to stick to my New Years’ resolutions.
The first two weeks, my gym was overflowing with people, everyone seemed to be wearing new fitness gear, and motivation was soaring! Then, slowly but surely, I noticed the gym-crowd shrinking, and for many, the new membership -along with the new shoes and gear-eventually becomes unused as January was getting closer to an end.
This scenario has happened to all of us at some point, and not just with exercise. The reality is that it’s tough to stay motivated when daily life keeps us busy, have a job (in the home or outside the home), and the endless demands on our time put on by parenting.
What ends up happing is that our “me time” or time to work out gets put aside and filled with other more pressing items -but really, is there anything more pressing than your health?
We often hear that exercise isn’t a short-term thing it’s part of a puzzle called lifestyle. Just like eating healthy and drinking more water, exercise is important to our physical and mental health.
This January, I launched my Family KickStart Program to help the families in my community eliminate processed foods and sugar for 30 days. While many wanted to do Whole30 programs (that I love btw) they knew they needed something to do with the kids because their health is important too!
After a week of eating gluten-free, dairy-free, no processed foods, and eliminating sugars from their diets, people began to feel great, and they felt ready to start moving.
Isn’t it funny that when we feel physically better from the inside by eating better, we begin to feel like we could undertake exercise?
It’s true that exercise is an important part of staying healthy. I don’t always feel like hitting the gym or jumping on my Peloton bike, but I do it. Our Peloton bike is next to my living room, and my kids often cheer me on when I’m 30 minutes in and super sweaty. Their encouragement always makes me smile and I know I’m setting a good example.
The things is, that even when we reach a fitness goal, we soon realize that we need to “keep working at it” to stay there. And here is when many people realize that it’s actually “work!” -and it is- but it doesn’t have to be an uphill battle.
Here are something that I tell my friends when it comes to staying motivated and continuing with exercise long term:
CHOOSE THE RIGHT ACTIVITY
Choosing the right type of activity is vital to stick to any fitness routine. If you don’t enjoy what you are doing, you are probably not going to want to do it when you’ve had a long day, are tired, and the only thing left in your to-do list is exercise.
For me, boxing, spinning, and rowing are the three things that I know that I can get through on a bad day. Sure, it’s hard to get started but then I feel great after I’m done.
SET ATTAINABLE GOALS
If you set fitness goals and it turns out you can keep them, then keep up the good work! However, if you set a weekly goal and find that you aren’t able to reach it, re-evaluate and find a pace that works for you!
Maybe your goal is to exercise 3-4 times per week. And then, the week goes by, and you only made it to the gym twice. You feel bad; you tell yourself “next week I’ll try to get there 3x” and then, to your disappointment the next week you only did it twice because you couldn’t find the hour your workouts require.
What if you added a few 10-minute options so that you give yourself a chance to do something from anywhere? You would eliminate disappointment and feel better about your commitment to exercise.
I often do a 10-minute warm-up bike ride, row 2000 meters (about 10 minutes), or a 5-minute leg/squat/pushups cycle. This is enough for me to feel like I “did something.”
The key is to provide yourself with “Plan B” options so you don’t feel disappointed when you can’t do your bigger workout goals.
DON’T STAY DOWN
You miss a week, maybe even a MONTH (yes, this has happened more times than I care to count), but there is no reason not to pick back up where you left off!
Getting back-to-it is always difficult and also worth it. And you know what? There’s no need to “wait till Monday” or “after the holiday” because the thing about exercise, is that you can get started immediately.
Keeping all these three things in mind, are the reason I “stay motivated”. In the words of Nike, I just “do it” and always feel better both about myself and physically.
While it can be difficult to set aside a few hours a week to “fit-it-in”, it’s more difficult in the long term to find time to visit doctors, not be able to hike or take adventurous trips because I’m not physically able to do it. Might be difficult in the short term, but well worth it in the long term.
And for this reason, I continue to try new workouts, experiment with new times of the day to “get my sweat on” and see what works best.
What are some of your tips for staying motivated when it comes to sticking to a workout routine?