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.