Have you been trying and trying to stick to your fitness plans, but find you struggle every time? Don't be discouraged! This is actually pretty common, as it can be difficult to form any sort of new habit.
We frequently get excited at the prospect of starting something new, including exercise. However, the excitement and motivation to exercise tend to fade away after the first few days, weeks, or even months. After that, it can often feel gruelling instead of rewarding, making it much harder to keep going.
To help you with your wellness journey, we'll be going over tips that will make it easier for you to stick to a new fitness plan even once the motivation has run out.
1. Exercise with a Friend
Having a friend to exercise with you can be the ultimate motivation. Even if neither of you really feels like working out that day, knowing you're getting to hang out with your friend while you're exercising can push you both to do it. On top of that, your friend will get to be there with you through the challenging and intense moments, and they will be able to personally witness all of your victories. Having them around can also just make the exercise feel more fun, which helps it feel like something you want to do rather than something you need to do.
2. Make a Schedule
Probably the worst thing you can do when starting out a new fitness plan is to decide just to work out whenever you feel like it. More often than not, you will quickly stop feeling like working out, and you'll notice weeks have gone by without any exercise. Creating a schedule, and pushing yourself to follow through with it, prevents this from happening.
When you're doing this, make sure to schedule your workouts for when you'll actually be able to do them. For example, if you need to work early in the morning and you would struggle to get your workout in before work, then schedule for sometime after work. It would also help to know what time of day would be best for you to work out depending on your fitness goals.
3. Create a Set of Goals and Rewards
Setting goals is a very important step for sticking to your plans. This may seem obvious at first, but are you setting the right kinds of goals? Studies show that process goals, rather than outcome goals, are actually more effective at improving exercise adherence. A process goal is set for taking actions that will lead to your desired outcome. For example, if your outcome goal is to lose a set amount of weight, a couple of process goals could be exercising a set number of times each week or only eating a set number of calories each day.
To increase your motivation even more, you can set up rewards for hitting your goals. For instance, you can reward yourself for sticking to your schedule after a set amount of days. Just keep in mind that unhealthy rewards are not the best idea. You don't want to reward yourself with junk food if you're trying to eat healthier. Instead, maybe save up some money and buy yourself that pair of shorts you've been wanting for a while, or something related to one of your hobbies.
4. Anything Is Better Than Nothing
Having an all-or-nothing attitude towards workouts can prevent you from forming a consistent routine. Following through on every commitment to exercise strengthens your habits, regardless of the amount of time you actually spend exercising. If you're dreading the idea of doing a 30-minute run or you find you just don't have the time or energy for it, you don't have to run the full time. Instead, go for a 15-minute or even 5-minute run. Doing literally anything is better than giving up entirely. By the time you're out there and moving, you may even feel up to going the full distance, but there's also no shame in finishing early.
5. Keep a Positive Mindset
Thinking about workouts with a positive spin redefines how we feel before and during our exercise. Unsurprisingly, it's easier to look forwards to beating your own deadlift record if you think about it as challenging and intense, rather than difficult and uncomfortable. Convincing yourself that your self-imposed regime is something you want to do and are able to do, instead of something you have to do, makes it a whole lot easier to follow through.
6. Celebrate Your Small Victories
Setting goalposts for yourself is important to marking progress on your fitness journey. Between these major milestones, you should take the time to celebrate your smaller achievements. Getting to the gym every time during a stressful week, getting an extra lap in at the pool, and setting a new personal best — all of these are accomplishments you should take a moment to appreciate.
7. Visually Track Your Progress
When reflecting on your progress, it can be difficult to keep your successes and shortcomings in perspective. Maybe you're so focused on a missed day that you're ignoring every other time you crushed it, or you've been giving yourself a few too many days off without realising. Simply having a calendar or planner to track your activities is a useful tool when looking back on what you've done. Seeing all your work written down keeps you accountable and helps you to figure out your personal habits and preferences. If you end up missing the gym every Saturday, weekend workouts may not be for you. This is something you might not recognise until you can see it in front of you.
8. Make Working Out Easy
If you're struggling with following through on your plans, you should make it as easy as possible to start your workout every time. Prep anything you can ahead of time so there are fewer steps to dissuade you when the time comes. For example, if you're an early morning jogger, you can set out your running clothes the night before, keep your water bottle filled up in the fridge overnight, and keep your shoes and anything else right by the door. If you work out at home, make sure your exercise equipment is easily accessible.
9. Add Some Variety
One way to help you keep up with your exercise routine would be to add some variety to your plan. One study showed that students with more variety in their workout plans were more likely to stick to them than those that had less variety. When you're coming up with your new fitness plan, try adding some new and different activities to it that you might not have thought of before! Not only will that help you stick to your goals, but doing a variety of physical activities also has added health benefits of its own.
10. Have an Accountabilibuddy
Sometimes, we all need someone to hold us accountable for our habits. Fitness is no different, which is why having an accountabilibuddy helps keep you on track with your self-imposed goals. Anybody can be your accountabilibuddy — your family, your spouse, a coworker, or a fitness friend online are all great choices. They don't have to exercise with you or offer advice. As long as they listen to your progress, it can encourage you to do your best so there's positive news to share. If you're unsure how to find an accountabilibuddy, there are plenty of online forums and fitness groups where you can easily make new friends.
Don't Give Up on Your Progress
Remember, all of us have off days. It's okay to make mistakes and not stick to your plan 100%. The important part is getting right back where you left off on the next day. You don't need to start over just because you missed a few days — just keep moving forward!
Developing new habits is hard, but these tips should make it a bit easier for you. Months down the road and you're sure to still be working hard and living a thriving lifestyle!