September is a great month to get recommitted to your health goals. For some, it feels like the end of a “free for all” summer; for others, the kids are back in school, leaving slightly more time to focus on themselves; for others, looming yearly goals threaten to be unmet or upcoming running races need to be trained for; for others still, something about Fall just feels like a great time to refocus, rejuvenate, and recommit. I’ve always fallen into that last category – coming into the last part of the year excites me and makes me want to finish strong!
Two weeks ago, we talked about how to recommit when your goals off track. Last week, we focused specifically on recommitting to meal planning and food prep. Today, we’ll focus on revitalizing your fitness routine.
We all know that there are at least 2020 reasons why your fitness routine may have gone sideways this year. At this point, it is what it is, and there’s nothing you can do to retroactively add a May 18th, 2020 (or whatever date) workout to your body. But there’s no reason to wait until January 1st to restart. NOW can be your time to revitalize your fitness routine. Here are 7 ways to do just that!
- Non-judgmentally, recognize what got you off track. I’ll repeat what I said a few posts ago: “Simply acknowledge that things didn’t go according to plan (rather than trying to ignore it or not “admit” it) and release any guilt that may arise when you think about this. You are not a bad person. You are not incapable of achieving your goals. You simply hit a speed bump. Don’t make that speed bump a roadblock by lounging in guilty feelings. Let them go!” Then, I’ll add a question: what did YOU do, or allow to happen, that got you off track? Try to take some ownership here (and know that ownership is different from blaming yourself). Did you expect yourself to get up at 4:30am, but not get to bed until midnight daily? Did you sign up for an online fitness service that you really didn’t love? Did you tell yourself that a workout doesn’t count unless it is 90 minutes long? If there’s anything YOU did, recognize it, and think about a way to reverse it.
- Reframe how you think about exercise. OK, I’m going to say something that might surprise you. When it comes to weight loss, exercise is DEFINITELY not the most important thing. So if you’re thinking, “going on that run will help me lose 5 pounds,” or “I have to go to kickboxing because I ate cake, think again. Exercise is wonderful for your mental health, heart health, longevity, energy levels, stress management, and so much more (see this post for 7 benefits that have nothing to do with the scale!). But when it comes to purely losing weight? You’re probably better off spending the time preparing some healthy food than you are hitting the pavement. So then, why do we think of exercise as punishment for what the scale says? Let’s try to reframe that, because it’s not motivating and is likely to set you into a vicious cycle of self-judgment (see this post for more on if weighing yourself is healthy at all). What benefit of exercise can you focus on instead of the scale? Can you make it about taking time for you or about feeling strong or about living until you’re 110, and not about something you “have to do” or something you do “to get skinny”? If so, you’ll have more lasting success!
- Schedule it. If you didn’t know that I’m a huge fan of scheduling, well … now you know. I schedule everything, from 4:30am – 9pm every day. And doing so helps me ensure that I get what I want to get done, done. I very well might schedule free time, so it doesn’t have to be all business, but I know if it’s not on my schedule, it’s less likely to get done. Of course, this applies to exercise, too. So often, especially when we’re working from home, we just hope to “fit it in” somewhere during the day. And we all know how that goes … 10pm rolls around and so many other priorities have taken the place of exercise. We are forced to put it off until the next day … then the next. Instead, I encourage you to schedule your workouts and treat them like any other commitment. If you need to move them because something else comes up, fine, move that appointment physically on your calendar. Don’t just schedule over it!
- Think of what is fun. The most common reason I see people fall out of their exercise routines is that they’re doing something they simply don’t enjoy. It’s unrealistic to expect yourself to stick to something that feels like torture! If you haven’t found what you enjoy doing for exercise yet, keep searching. Think about what you loved to do as a child, and see if you can relate that to activity. Did you love to dress up and dance? Try a Zumba class! Loved to rack up soccer trophies? Sign up for a 10K and look forward to getting the medal! Loved the camaraderie of the swim team? Make friends with people at your local pool, or join a (virtual or in-person) gym with a great community.
- Remember your “why.” Just like food prep, when I think about skipping my workout “today only,” I remind myself what happens when I don’t do it. I’ll likely feel more sluggish the rest of the day, and I’ll be confronted by continuous thoughts of “ugh, I wish I had woken up to get in the workout!” It might be harder to “get back on track” after skipping a few days, too. And even deeper than that, I work out to feel I work out to build confidence. I work out because I love the thought that anytime, anywhere, I could bust out 30 burpees or 20 push-ups or 5 miles. I work out for energy, stress management, long-term health, pride, and so much more. Why do you work out?
- Try a 30-day challenge. I believe in finding ways to exercise for the long run, but sometimes, a 30-day challenge can be a motivating kickstart to get that long-term habit feeling fun and fresh. Check out this 30-Day Ab Challenge that I put on my blog in 2013, before The Lyons’ Share was a business! (And try not to laugh – the exercises are still great!). Or join the Grit Fitness September Challenge (it’s not too late to join, virtually or in-person!). Or try a 30-Day Squat Challenge (I like this one). Whatever it takes, challenge yourself to complete something consistently!
- Set a non-negotiable. Look, life gets in the way. I get it. I don’t expect absolute perfection of anyone, including myself. But I know how it feels when you intended to do a 45-minute workout, and 15 minutes have already elapsed with your head stuck in your computer. Is it worth it to throw in the towel? Of course not! In this case, it can be helpful to have a “non-negotiable.” For example, I will do 10 push-ups every day, no matter what. Or I’ll walk one mile, or do 30 jumping jacks. Whatever it is for you, having that minimal commitment that you can accomplish no matter what ensures that you snap out of the black & white mentality.
Now it’s your turn … What’s one way you stay committed to exercising? What do you do when you feel like you’re falling off track?