One thing I really don’t have a hard time doing is staying consistent with my workouts. I consistently perform rigorous movements, almost daily, during a gym workout, or while inline skating. Do you want to punch me in the face right now? I totally get it. Most people really struggle with the commitment necessary to create a lifelong, exercise routine. Maybe, if you knew why I don’t struggle, you would “cut me a little slack.”
There are several reasons why staying in decent shape comes a little more easily for me. The primary factor is – PAIN. If I don’t work out consistently, my chronic pain worsens and I suffer.
The second reason is – MOTIVATION. Listen closely. My motivation for working out used to be to look good in a bathing suit. Unfortunately for me (and many others) this was an empty pursuit. That incentive held no depth, and it was too easy for me to discard my goals for a bag of Red Vines. There were several circumstances in my life (including my health history, and the health history of both my parents, who suffered brain cancer), that brought me to the realization that being “fit” can really be a matter of life or death.
Suddenly I never missed a workout. I deeply internalized that people, who were “cardiovascularly-fit.” , strong and flexible have a much better chance of living a longer, healthier, and more rewarding life. I realized that achieving a fitness level that was conducive to vibrant, healthy living as a mature adult, will not happen overnight. And, it will get harder to attain with each passing year. I had to start immediately.
The third reason is Stress. Many years ago I noted that people who are successful in their careers often, also, tend to be extremely fit. I used to believe that business people are somehow “wired to enjoy exercising.” But, one could also surmise that people who have stressful jobs exercise frequently because they realize the “pressure-valve-release” effect exercise has on their tension. My husband has personally witnessed the connection between my “grump-factor”, and the amount of time I spend exercising. In fact, when he sees those crinkles in between my eyebrows increase, he promptly pushes me towards the gym. Exercise is the best anxiety medication on the free market.
[Tweet “Exercise is the best anxiety medication on the free market”]
I spent many, many years being extremely inconsistent with workouts; choosing a big bag of iced animal cookies over hitting the gym. But, I am happy to say, at this current stage in my life, I follow my fitness schedule religiously. However, I still regularly use the tactics listed below to make sure I stay consistent. I hope some of them will be useful to your success as well.
Here are my 15 “scandalous” motivators for staying consistent with your workout routine
1) Schedule your workout times, before ANYTHING else: When looking at the week ahead, put in NON-NEGOTIABLE meetings with yourself at the gym. If I am super busy with work, I will even take my IPAD, and work while I am on the cardio equipment. But, I never miss my “appointments.”
2) Set up “recurring workout appointments” in your daily planner: Once you have created designated times for your workouts, set them up in your planner for the next several months. Why? So, you will get into the rhythm of exercising on a regular basis. This will cause you to think less about how you are going to make time for your workouts.
3) Ask a close friend to hold you hostage: Ask a trusted friend to hold you accountable for your workouts for at least two months. Let them know the times that you are planning to work out, and ask, if they will “check-in” with you (text, voice mail, hidden camera) to make sure you are “sticking” to your workout routine.
4) Find a workout buddy: Find someone to workout with. Even if you don’t exercise at the same pace or want to use different parts of the gym meet at the enterance for a high five and then off you go. You will be more likely to “stick” to your workout routine if you know someone is standing there waitng with their hand in the air.
5) Follow the “Ten-Minute Rule”: When you REALLY feel like bailing on your workouts, enforce the “Ten Minute Rule.” If you get to the gym, and ten minutes in you still feel like leaving you have permission to leave! But, guess what? It rarely happens. Once you start moving your endorphins “kick in” and you feel GREAT!
6) The perfect outfit: I am sorry that this actually works, but it does. We are a vain species, and a shiny new outfit will make you want to go “peacock around the gym,” or at least give yourself a little smile, and wink, before heading out for a bikeride or run – in your “spiffy” new shorts.
7) Make it a challenge: When I feel a little discouraged, I actually set a specific goal. I may even make a chart, and check off the days that I workout until I achieve my desired results. There is a “wee competitor” in everyone. In fact, it is statistically proven that if a task is made into a competition, people will perform better, even if the challenge extended is against themselves!
8) Set up an event 1 to 3 months in the future: Nothing like spotting the “5K Run” flyer taped to the fridge, to feel the proverbial “nipping at your heels.” When people have something on the horizon that is going to be physically challenging, they are much more likely to stay consistent. A Mini-Triathlon, a bike race, or a half marathon are great options. Anything organized or competitive can do it. Just put it on your calendar!
9) PAY or get PAID: Money talks, and depending on what motivates you, this option may just be the ticket for you. PACT is an app that actually pays members to workout. Check it out! Another option is to select a buddy and enter into a friendly bet. Maybe, it is a hundred bucks to the person who gets the first 30 workouts in or 50 bucks to the first person who logs fifty miles. I will even set one of these up for myself! I will pick something that I want to buy, and use a little jar to donate to, as I pay myself for each workout.
10) Morning workouts: Research suggests that people, who work out in the mornings, tend to be more consistent. If you “knock it out” first thing in the morning there is a far less chance of your workout getting “derailed” by a busy schedule in the afternoon.
11) Find something that you LOVE: If you don’t like the activity you have chosen, you will eventually quit. But, before you abandon the activity really think about WHY you don’t like it. For example, are you sure you don’t like lifting weights or do the “grunty meatheads” who workout at your gym creep you out? Do you not like Zumba or does that particular overly zealous teacher annoy you? Remember there are always other options. You could go to a women’s only gym, or try a different class with a teacher who is charming and nice to look at. Don’t abandon an activity, unless you are really sure that it is the actual activity that you don’t like.
12) Use a data tracker: Documenting your workouts will make you work out harder, longer, and more frequently. My Fitness Pal, in my opinion, is the best activity tracker at the moment but there are lots available. When you document what you are doing, it is much easier to see and celebrate your progress.
13) Remember five minutes is better than no minutes: Be real! When you decide to bail on your workout because of time constraints, it is not actually that you “don’t have time,” it is that you “don’t have time” for the length of the workout you were planning to undertake. I could knock you on your keester with a workout that is performed in 7 minutes, so do some jumping jacks, run up and down your stairs a few times, or do a couple of sets of push-ups. Be flexible, and don’t let a time crunch become a missed opportunity.
14) Start now: “I am going to start after Thanksgiving.” “I am going to start when work settles down.” “I am going to start once Johnny is in school.” Don’t lie to yourself. I can give you examples of people with the same number of children, and the same time constraints and commitments as you, who have made fitness a priority. I know it is hard. But, these people chose to make exercise THAT important. You must acknowledge that your excuses are lies that you tell yourself. Don’t delay. You don’t have to start big, just start! I know you can do it!!
15) Make your workouts SCANDALOUS! What?! When I am at the gym, I take my IPAD. My IPAD has Netflix. I only allow myself the guilty pleasure of watching certain TV series at the gym. Right now it is all the seasons of Scandal. I love that show! For you, it may be a different show or a certain playlist on Pandora or Songza that really gets you going. Reserve these “tantalizing motivators” for workout time ONLY! I have actually gone to the gym on a “non-gym” day, just to catch up on the next episode!
There are lots of alternatives to traditional exercise options. Fitness is a non-conforming, wide-open platform. From hula to cross-fit, anything goes. Just move, and try to do it every chance that you get. You are an amazing human! Let’s keep you in the best shape possible. I know that you can be more consistent with your fitness endeavors. This week try prescheduling all your workouts and then send them to a friend who can just send you a “are you at the gym” friendly text during the times you should be there.
Thanks for these wonderful pointers on getting motivated to be consistent with exercise. They are just what I needed to hear. My workouts have not been very consistent and I will be employing some of your ideas, especially #1 and #2.
Thank you for responding Kelly! I am glad you found them useful!
Thanks for this encouraging missive. I’ve definitely been struggling to get back on (and stick with) the workout wagon lately.
Something I’ve found helpful is to do a short yoga routine first thing in the morning. Seems to help the “why am I up?” feeling experienced on my typical morning.
Lately I’ve been alternating days with a set of push-ups or pull-ups. I kind of dread pull-ups and find myself stalling. I’ve added handstands to pull-up days so I don’t feel like a complete flake while I’m stalling.
Keeping a workout log has long been a favorite practice. The log helps by providing evidence of improvements as well as incentive, e.g., “Uh oh, I used to be able to do WAY more pull-ups; better suck it up!” or “Wow! I could only do THAT many reps when I started? I’m awesome now!”.
Your comments about your personal health challenges and the final graphic in the post resonated with me the most. I don’t want to revert back to that limping, pain filled existence I overcame a decade ago.