6 Strategies for Staying Fit No Matter What

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6 Strategies for Staying Fit No Matter What

At the start of the new year, you renewed your gym membership, bought new shoes and resolved to get in shape. But a few months later, those same shoes are collecting dust in the back of your closet, and you’re feeling guilty because you can’t remember the last time you even attempted a plank or a squat. Sound familiar? You’re not alone. Despite starting off the year with a resolve to get fit, so many of us fall out of the habit when other aspects of life take over. But this doesn’t have to be you. Here are practical strategies to stay focused — and motivated — to exercise year-round.

The excuse: “I’m too busy to exercise!”
The strategy: Schedule time for workouts.
Just like you would pencil in a conference call or a doctor’s appointment, carve out a block of time in your schedule that’s dedicated to working out. Pop it in your online calendar, and set reminders so it’s harder to ignore. And if you just can’t find a spare moment in your day to train? Don’t beat yourself up. Shoot for two or three solid workouts a week, which will give you some flexibility for when you’re super-swamped.

The excuse: “I don’t have it in me to push myself today.”
The strategy: Just do something — anything.
Most avid exercisers will tell you any workout is better than no workout at all. Even if you’re tired, stressed or still getting over that cold, opting to sit out a sweat session will only derail your fitness plans for the future. Staying committed to a regular routine — even if it’s just a 20-minute walk with your dog — will keep you in the workout groove. So slip on some workout gear, lace up those sneakers, and get out and do something. Easy efforts count!

The excuse: “I get so bored sometimes.”
The strategy: Mix it up.
We get it: Pounding the pavement for miles at a time or chugging along on the elliptical for an hour aren’t the most exciting activities. Some people have the ability to focus on completing their routine, no matter the workout, while many others need a little more outside stimulation to get it done. If you fall into the latter, find ways to stay entertained while you exercise. Whether it’s listening to season two of “Serial” while you ride the stationary bike or trying out that new Yogalates class at your gym, make your exercise plans more of a variety pack than a strict routine. Remember: Fitness should be fun, not a chore.

The excuse: “It’s frustrating when I don’t see any results.”
The strategy: Ignore the scale (for now).
Exercise shouldn’t be just a means to an end. Sure, you want your hard work to amount to something. But if you obsess over the numbers on the scale, then you’re more apt to be anxious about it — and less inclined to keep it up if you think it’s not working. So skip your daily weigh-in for a while, and focus on how you feel after you exercise. Are you energized? Happier? More productive? Focus first on the less aesthetic effects of your workout routine. The physical results will follow.

The excuse: “I just can’t find the motivation to exercise.”
The strategy: Get social.
No one’s better at kicking your unmotivated self out the door than a dedicated workout buddy. Accountability is everything when it comes to progress. Find a friend (or a training group), and make standing plans to meet up. Or go virtual: From MyFitnessPal to Facebook to Instagram, you can easily make connections with people around the world who will boost you when you’re feeling blah. So put yourself out there and share your goals or your reservations. Something simple as a supportive comment or a “like” may be just the push you need to get that workout done already.

The excuse: “I have too many other commitments.”
The strategy: Put yourself first.
Whether it’s your family, your job or your volunteer work, no doubt you have a pile of priorities that take time and energy away from your fitness plans. But let’s be honest: Your health (and your happiness) should always come first. Striking a balance between exercise and the dozens of other duties you juggle is difficult, but it is doable. Plus, when you’re working out and taking care of yourself, you’ll likely have more energy to dedicate to everyone else.

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  • Blackdawn_70631

    Via stress, I walk on my treadmill for 30 minutes as a stress reliever. And I do get tired of my core workout, so I remedy that by performing 200 Russian Twists with a 20 lb weight followed by a core workout video.
    I love cardio and so-so on my free weights. Not a fan of free weights but like the results. But when I get tired of something, I just switch the video.

  • Shreya M

    Sarah,
    Thank you for sharing these tips. I find myself saying these excuses as I sit at home and lay in my bed. I find it extremely hard to force myself to get up and go work out. Finding motivation is difficult. I usually do not work out unless it is a scheduled thing such as a sport for a club or my school. However, lately I have been going to the gym, and my motivation is that in the summer I will be wearing tank tops and swimsuits that will not look good if my body is not healthy. Next time I find myself struggling to go work out, I will remember these tips!
    – Shreya M

  • PaulB

    Fully agree – You can walk a mile & a half in 20 minutes, that’s a pretty good lunchtime fix.

  • Andrea

    I have MS and find it hard to walk, never mind run. I’ve also lost roughly 9lbs in a month. If I can do it, anyone else has no excuse. Use your healthy legs and dance! Walk! Run! Skip! I wish I could do it so easily 🙂

    • Ren Feral

      I have a lot of respect for you. 🙂

  • This article is awesome and it makes perfect sense!It is incredibly motivating.I can relate so much to what you have said and helps me with my way of thinking at times.

  • robinbishop34

    For overall conditioning, activity is important and I would encourage everyone to do so. That said, exercise is NOT necessary to lose fat. If you figure your total daily energy expenditure (google TDEE calculator), you can simply lower your calorie intake by 20% and it will fall off.

    When you exercise to lose weight, you are essentially burning off an over consumption of calories, and it’s a lot easier to restrict calorie intake than it is to burn it off on the treadmill.

    • JB_Gator

      I’m going to agree and disagree with you 🙂

      I’ll start off by pointing out that losing fat is not the same as being fit. You *do* need to exercise to be fit. That being said…

      First of all I agree that exercise is not *necessary* to lose fat. As they say, “abs are made in the kitchen” (if that’s your goal), so you can just restrict calories and get to your goal weight. BUT exercise helps speed up fat loss for a couple of reasons. First, and most obvious is that you’re burning off calories. I will agree with you again here that you should NOT be doing it just to burn off an over-consumption of calories. You still need to eat well.

      Second, exercise, especially weight training, serves another purpose – to build muscle. This muscle in turn increases your body’s TDEE, making even easier to drop the pounds (just keep the same calorie intake, as you suggested). Muscle requires more energy to maintain than fat, and being stronger will not only help with everyday activities, but will make you feel fitter and better overall as well. You will likely lose weight a little slower at first as you build muscle, but since it is much more dense than fat, you will notice the visual differences.

      I realized this was my biggest mistake which lead to my weight gain. I used to strength train 2-3 days a week and was down to about 12-15% BF. Later, I was also following a reasonable diet and staying within my recommended calorie intake, per MFP, but not working out at all. The problem was that I had lost muscle as I gained weight, making it that much harder on myself.

      Anyway, those are my two cents. Exercise and diet go hand in hand – you can’t really just pick one if you want results that last, and doing both will speed up said results..

      • robinbishop34

        The reason I emphasize losing fat w/o increasing activity is because it is not uncommon to see comments on here from those who are unable to exercise due to injury/health issue, etc. Many people mistakenly believe that they must engage in strenuous workout programs to drop fat and may become discouraged. A person could lose weight in a coma if their calorie intake was at a reasonable deficit. It is important to understand that calorie intake is paramount above anything else.

        You are correct about weight training building muscle, but it gets a little more complicated than that. To build muscle you must train to “progressive overload” in combination with a moderate calorie SURPLUS (with special emphasis on protein intake). The prevailing narrative about fat turning to muscle, or burning fat while building muscle are false. There is a small window of time as a newbie where some muscle can be gained while losing fat, but it is very brief and barely measurable.

        It’s not wrong to say exercise and diet go hand in hand for an overall healthy/healthier lifestyle, but it is important to understand exercise is NOT necessary to lose weight.

        • JB_Gator

          Good points and I 100% agree with the need to emphasize this so people don’t get discouraged. You can drop fat regardless of activity level if your calorie balance is right.

          In terms of the strength training, you don’t need a moderate surplus unless your goal is rapid strength increase or hypertrophy. Progressive overload goes hand in had with this. If you’re not trying to get super bulky, you can stop adding weight after a little bit. But changing your calories to emphasize protein is necessary. I guess moderate calorie surplus is subjective here.

          In any case, you’re right that fat turning to muscle is completely false – that’s just not how any of this works. But it is possible to lose fat and build muscle simultaneously, even as a non-newbie. It takes a stricter, protein-rich, carb-poor diet, so can be more difficult to accomplish, but can definitely be done.

          But for a newbie, you really don’t need a strenuous workout or strict protein-rich diet to build lean muscle anyway. Will you get big and bulky without a calorie surplus? Nope. But that’s not what most people want, or what I was advocating anyhow.

          My message was for the able-bodied, who CAN exercise. Even though you absolutely can lose weight without it, go ahead and exercise. You’ll feel better afterwards- when the soreness goes away, but you still get those endorphins, and everyday tasks gets a little bit easier.

          I’ll end by reiterating that you’re right – exercise is not necessary to lose weight. If there is something that prevents you from doing so (health/injury), don’t be discouraged and give up – you can still lose weight via your diet.

          • robinbishop34

            Agreed.

  • Ren Feral

    I really like doing HIIT. Really good results in a lot less time.

  • Sweetie Girl

    These are all great tips! I also find that by keeping a clean set of workout clothes and shoes in my car, I can squeeze a workout in anytime I have to be somewhere but not necessarily doing anything (i.e. when the kids are at basketball practice, waiting for them to get out of school, or before or after work). I’ve managed to lose 30 lbs in about 45 days. And now that I’ve gotten a little bored with running, walking, and running up and down the stairs, I’ve mixed it up by adding in some weight lifting and Zumba. Gotta love Zumba! 🙂