Too tired. No time. Workouts are boring. I’m not fit enough to do this workout. I have a bad back, I can’t exercise.
Do any of these sound familiar? Fitness, whether it is eating healthy or exercising regularly, is a goal that’s challenging because we don’t often prioritize it. Our mindset is such an important piece of the puzzle but we don’t always realize that.
If you’ve been feeling bogged down by the thought of exercise, here’s a simple list of dos and don’ts to get you mentally prepared and on track.
1. Do Set Goals
The American Council on Exercise suggests setting goals that are SMART – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. Start small with goals for the week or even for each day.
2. Do Remember The “Why” In Your Fitness Story
Remind yourself WHY you are doing this. Is it to get healthier, lower risk of illness, overcome a medical problem, lose weight, or even live longer for the sake of your loved ones? This is the most crucial piece of your story. Never forget it.
3. Don’t Make It A One Man (Or Woman) Show
If you struggle to stick with the program, having a coach or trainer can really help. If you don’t want a real-life coach, try an app that serves the same purpose, with remote coaching. Chances are, if they show up for a session and you are busy or feeling lazy, you’ll make a greater effort to not quit than if it only affected you.
4. Do Find A Cheerleader!
Find a friend or supportive family member to keep you on track. A work colleague cum cheerleader, for instance, can ensure you skip the muffin at the canteen, take the stairs instead of the elevator, or head out for a walk post-lunch or after work.
5. Do Make It Fun
There are dozens of different ways to stay fit. Don’t feel compelled to go down the traditional gym and weight training route. You may find you love dancing off the calories at a Bollywood fitness class or a salsa session. Or swim in the pool or try aerial yoga. You could even set a fitness challenge with friends or coworkers.
6. Do Change It Up When You Are Bored
Just because you have been kickboxing to stay fit for years, doesn’t mean you can’t try something totally new or different. Don’t be afraid to switch things up.
7. Don’t Make It TOO Easy
Some of us love challenges. If you need to push yourself to feel a sense of achievement, make sure you do! Up the duration of your workout or try changing things up so your body doesn’t settle into a rhythm. It’ll also likely make your workouts more effective.
8. Don’t Let Yourself Feel Tied Down
It’s easy to make excuses to not exercise. If there are more constraints around a workout, it’ll only get harder. If you have a fixed gym time slot at only one location and a work meeting clashes, you may find yourself cancelling. Try and join a fitness club with multiple locations so you can work out when you travel. Ensure your membership lets you go in at any time slot.
9. Do Reward Yourself
These could be tangible rewards like a stole or a shirt or a non-food treat of some kind. It could even be a special meal out – but try and keep food-based rewards to the minimum as those can easily turn into excuses to binge and may derail your efforts.
10. Do Remind Yourself Of Your Victories
You can do this manually with an offline tracker or use a fitness tracker or app that gives you badges for special landmarks on your fitness and updates you on your performance. Seeing yourself tick off those milestones can really help.
11. Do Repeat Until It’s A Habit
This is critical. For some people, this could be as early as 21 days, but on average it takes 66 days, as per more recent research. Remind yourself of why you are doing this, make it hard for yourself to cancel a session, and reward yourself along the way so that you don’t give up. Better yet, pencil it into your daily routine so you just have to do it.