I’ve been implementing some of these tips in my daily life recently, alternating between different exercises: running, yoga, pilates, and weight training workouts. My goal is to tone up and get into better cardiovascular shape, and hope to be able to run a 5k soon.
It’s taken me a year or two to completely make exercise a habit. Now I feel weird if I don’t do something active at least 4-5 times a week.
Here are some suggestions that I’ve learned that can help make exercise a long-term habit.
- Set a time: Schedule out your physical activity on your calendar. Are you more likely to exercise in the morning or evening? I try to plan my exercise depending on what I have going on in the evenings. If I have something to do, I’ll plan on exercising in the morning before work. Post your workout schedule somewhere where you’ll see it every day, or set a reminder on your phone.
- Set specific and measurable goals: You may become overwhelmed if you want to lose weight, tone up, run a 5k, lift 50 pounds, learn to swim, etc. Pick one, such as losing five pounds in one month or running two days a week for 20 minutes. Start with one goal, reach that, and then come up with another.
- Start small: As I wrote about in this post, be careful of choosing too many different types of exercises or thinking you can do more than you can. Doing too much leads to burnout, which leads to quitting your habit. The whole point is to just get out there and get moving. Once you’re used to exercise, you can add more days or increase the length of your workouts.
- Make it pleasurable: Pick physical activity that you like. There’s many other options rather than running on a treadmill or punching away on the elliptical. Get outside. Do yoga or pilates. Lift weights. Go hiking, biking, swimming, jump rope, paddle-boarding, kayaking, you get the picture! Being outside is one of my major motivators. There’s nothing more enjoyable than fresh air and warm sun.
- Mix it up: Again, don’t just pick one exercise. Do yoga once a week, run another day, weight train three days a week, etc. With each type of exercise, you’re working different types of muscles. This also prevents burnout.
- Lay out your workout clothes: When I wake up at 6am to do pilates, I lay out my clothes the night before so I’m not scrambling in the dark. The fewer obstacles to forming the new habit, the better. It’s much easier to get ready for a morning workout when all of your gear is sitting there ready to go.
- Have a rest day: Recovery is so important for muscle growth. Do something light that day—go for a slow walk or meditate.
- Log your exercise: I like to write down how long I’ve exercised on monthly calendar that I’ve printed out. It’s nice to see your entire month’s hours add up before your eyes. If you haven’t written anything down on the calendar in a couple days, then you know it’s time to go do something active.
- Get an exercise buddy: I used to go to yoga weekly with one of my best friends, and this helped immensely. When you know you have plans to go with someone, it’s harder to break them!
- Find a way to motivate yourself: My main motivation currently is looking good in a bikini. Summer’s here, so that means frequent pool trips! Plus, some of my best friends and family members have become engaged recently, so I want to feel confident and comfortable at their weddings! Make sure you pick non-food rewards for reaching your goals. My non-food rewards include buying new workout clothes and/or shoes, or splurging at Sprouts or Whole Foods.
How often do you exercise? What are your favorite activities?
Hi! I’m Emily, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and self-taught intuitive chef. I firmly believe that cooking is the simplest and most important step we can take to improve our minds and bodies and build healthier communities. Join me and let’s bring food back to the kitchen!