Updated: Jan 4
Getting back into a consistent workout routine after an extended workout hiatus is often
as difficult as getting started in the first place. It’s important to allow yourself time to readjust to an exercise schedule instead of picking up right where you left off. Remember, incremental improvement is better than burning out before establishing a habit. This is equally true when starting a fitness journey for the first time. The most motivated and enthusiastic can find themselves back where they started when applying an all or nothing mentality to their fitness goals. To help get you started on your fitness journey, or back on track, we’ve put together 5 steps to (re)establish a fitness routine and stay motivated.
Step 1 - Slow & Steady
When establishing a new habit, incremental change is the best way to avoid overexerting
yourself. Start with one change you can add to your routine that you are comfortable with and confident you can maintain. It’s better to start small and stay consistent than completely change your routine all at once. Add 30-minutes of exercise every other day, or 10-minutes of stretching when you wake up. Push-ups, sit-ups or bodyweight squats before bed is a great way to add exercise into your routine without disturbing your daily routine. If you plan on going to the gym, select a manageable number of days a week to go for the first month. After successfully incorporating the first change, build on your success and add in another small habit. Piece-by-piece your goals will look more attainable as you slowly build on your successes.
Step 2 - Set a Goal
To ensure you’re on track it is essential to know where you are headed. Whether your goal is general fitness, losing fat, gaining muscle or simply staying healthy, having a well-defined goal allows you to break down the necessary steps into smaller, more manageable goals. Take a moment to really define what you hope to accomplish in a way that can be measured. Write this down along with the time frame you expect to achieve this. Having the time frame written down gives a sense of urgency that can help keep you on track when you inevitably have a dip in motivation. Lastly, consider why you have this goal. Take a moment to acknowledge what is motivating you to set this goal in the first place. Knowing why you want to reach this goal is helpful when struggling with setbacks and will be a helpful reminder to not give up.
Step 3 - Plan Ahead
After setting your end goal, take a look at what you’ll have to do first and take steps ahead of time to make it easier for yourself to accomplish. For example, if I plan to go to the gym on Monday I'll lay out my shoes and gym clothes Sunday night. This firstly helps you commit to your plan and removes even the slightest friction that could impede you from accomplishing what you set out to do. This also adds a visual reminder of the habit you’re working toward. Another example of this is planning your workout before going to the gym. Having a game plan allows you to focus on the task at hand and what you need to reach your goal. When first establishing a gym routine this is especially helpful. Instead of looking around for what to do next during your workout, having a pre-made routine allows you to feel confident about what you are doing and focus solely on the workout. Having a set workout also provides step-by-step instructions for you to follow making the path clear and simple.
Step 4 - Allow Yourself to Stumble
When establishing a workout routine, it’s healthy to be aware that messing up is normal, expected and part of the process. Beating yourself up for missing a workout won’t help motivate you more for the next one, it will associate a negative mentality around the habit you are trying to build. Instead of blaming yourself, consider why you missed that day. Were you tired from the night before or stressed from work or even simply forgot? After finding what caused the slip up, plan ahead to avoid the same difficulty in the future. You’re now aware of something that can impede your progress and can make steps to remedy or overcome the obstacle. It’s important to forgive yourself, but make sure the mistake doesn’t compound. Get back on track immediately and don’t allow yourself time to ruminate in the mistake.
Step 5 - Find What You Enjoy
There are hundreds of ways to get in shape or establish a fitness routine. If you are starting out for the first time, be open to the many alternatives there are if your first workout discipline doesn’t click. The most important factor when it comes to making fitness a habit is finding a discipline you enjoy. Be open to trying HIIT classes or yoga, Crossfit or Olympic lifting, resistance training or Zumba. Once you find something you enjoy, your fitness journey truly takes off and the path to your goals is no longer a chore. This isn’t only applicable for people just starting out. If you previously had a fitness routine and fell off, consider the possibility that there may be a fitness style that you may enjoy even more and keep you more engaged. If you are ever feeling burnt out from your current exercise routine it may be time to try something new to keep things interesting, while still moving forward toward your goal.