1) Change your perspective and look at how you’ve prioritized. In my 20’s my primary reason for exercise was to look good. Now, my primary reason for exercise is to FEEL GOOD, to be healthy, to live a long active life with my kids and my husband, and to set a good example for them. I see my fitness now as a gift that improves my quality of life, my mental wellness, my strength, and my longevity. Once I recognized and truly embraced what exercise gives me, I have put it up very high on my priority list. Is laundry spilling over undone in the laundry room? Most days, yes it is! Do I watch TV? Hardly any – no time!
2) Set goals. Make sure they are realistic and attainable and that you can actually adapt your life around meeting them. Be sure to set short-term, as well as long-term goals.
3) Make it fun! Try different workouts and sports and find what you enjoy. Even the most effective workout loses all power if you dislike it so much you skip it. Also, switch up your activities and your workouts to prevent boredom and to keep your body guessing.
4) Schedule a regular workout time. It’s hard to find time for exercise, but don’t fall back on your excuses. Schedule workouts as you would any other important activity and stick to it, like it’s an important meeting with yourself! Also, find the time of day that works best for you for working out to increase the chances you’ll be able to stick with it.
5) Make physical activity part of your daily routine. Slip physical activity in throughout your day. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Run laps around the field during your child’s soccer practice (I did this a lot last Fall).
6) Join forces with others. Invite a co-worker to walk with you during lunch. Find a workout partner to stay accountable. It’s easy to hit the snooze button when it’s just you, but it’s harder if it means leaving a friend waiting. You could play sports with your kids, or meet me in your living room any time of day, and we’ll work out together!
7) Reward yourself. Pay attention to how good you feel after a workout is done and savor that feeling. Pay attention to the positive changes exercise gives your body and your mind. This type of internal reward can REALLY boost commitment to regular exercise. Your body and mind will start to crave it! You can also set up external rewards like a new pair of cross-trainer shoes, a new outfit, tickets to a show, or whatever else is meaningful to you.
8) Be flexible and kind to yourself. If you are really busy at work, or if you get a cold and need to take a day or two off, take your break and then get back on track. Recognize that progress is not always linear, sometimes we take a few steps backwards, sometimes we fall down completely. Remember that fitness is for life and the best fitness program is a lifestyle program.