Ready to ditch your sedentary lifestyle and start exercising?
Who among us has not said at one point or another, “You know what? I’m going to turn some things around and start working out!”
You genuinely mean it so you go sign up for a gym membership, buy some expensive 30-day online program, or fork over $100+ dollars for five classes to some upscale bootcamp gym. Maybe you even buy some new gear to get motivated.
But here’s the thing…
Chances are within six weeks, those new sneakers are collecting dust and your inbox is getting flooded with “We miss you!” reminders from XYZ gym wondering why you haven’t been in a while.
The amount of money and good intentions I have thrown at Crunch or whatever membership app over the years!
Here’s the good news!
That behavior is 100% normal.
The vast majority of people don’t keep up with their fitness goals (or any goals for that matter). It’s why we make mini celebrities out of the average person who actually does make the commitment, loses 60+ pounds, and now looks super jacked.
But you are not trying to be 100% normal.
You would like to be apart of the 27% of people who actually keep their fitness goals and see them to fruition.
In order to get you there, let’s examine what NOT to do, shall we?
1. Don’t try to do too much at once.
One of the biggest mistakes we make is going too big with our goals. We get over excited and believe the myth that regular people are transforming their lives in 90 days left and right.
Fitness takes time.
You’re not going to go from mostly sedentary to hitting the gym at 6 AM 4-5 days per week. That’s too much! Now you can certainly get there, eventually, but you need time and consistency to build up the physical and mental strength to get there.
Make it easy.
James clear talks about making your goals easy in the beginning so you aren’t overly relying on motivation to get through it. Motivation and willpower are finite resources. If getting to the gym at 6 AM feels like pulling teeth, you aren’t goin to stick with it.
Instead, start easy.
If waking up at 6 AM is new for you, start there. Just get accustomed to waking up at that hour and moving your body. Set that alarm, put your shoes and workout clothes right beside your bed, and go do five minutes of exercise. Any kind!
Gradually you can work up to 10, 15, and 20 minutes of exercise first thing in the morning. Once that becomes second nature, then you can add physically dragging your butt to the gym in the mornings.
Will you lose weight and/or get fit as quickly as someone who dives in and does an hour of HIIT every day? No, but most people who go from 0-60 end up sputtering out within three weeks.
So why not be someone who gradually builds the habit and makes it a part of their lifestyle?
2. Don’t pick an exercise routine you hate.
This should be intuitive, but it’s not!
There are so many ways to integrate exercise into your life, and yet so many people try to force themselves to do things they do not enjoy.
We become obsessed with the outcome when we should be obsessed with the process.
Maybe an expensive bootcamp membership that meets three days per week at 5:30 AM IS the fastest way to that summer bod, but if you hate everything about it, you will not stick with it.
AND you’ll make yourself completely miserable in the process.
If you are just starting out, your focus should be on establishing a fitness habit.
In the past, I would sign up for online programs that were largely high-tempo HIIT workouts and hated every single second of them. I always abandoned them. So why did I buy them?
Because it’s what I thought I needed to do to reach my fitness goals.
But honestly, at the time, I hadn’t worked out in well over a decade. I really was starting from zero. Sure, eventually, I would have wanted to incorporate some of that high intensity training into my routine, but that was going to be on down the line when I had already built the foundation to even do that stuff.
Do something you enjoy.
If you like yoga, do that. Dancing classes like Zumba? Work it, honey!
Choose something that is fun and feels like a win. If you don’t set yourself up for some easy wins, you are not going to stick with it. Not in the early days.
Eventually those wins will get change and become tougher, but so will you.
Start where you are.
3. Don’t focus all your energy on results.
A lot of people start a fitness routine with the attitude of, “I gotta get through it so I can lose weight and fit in a size 4 again.” (Or something to that effect.)
That whole “means to an end” approach is doomed to fail.
Focus on the process.
Right now, you’re just trying to make a habit. Consistency is the most important thing, not whether you lose X amount of pounds every month.
Yes, you have bigger goals that are connected to your desire to make fitness a habit, but those are way far off in the future. Right now, you are trying to start.
That task is big enough on its own.
What is your process going to be? You need manageable goals you actually want to complete that can give you some easy wins. Put your energy on those things first.
4. Don’t jump in without a plan.
Once you decide what your process and fitness routine are going to be, you need to figure out when and how often you are going to do it.
It’s not enough to say, I’m going for a brisk walk 3 times per week.
Which days are you going for walks? When are you going to walk? For how long?
Get a calendar or fitness tracker and map out your fitness routine so you can visually hold yourself accountable. It’s much easier to be inconsistent and leave something to be done the next day if you are haphazardly integrating new habits into your life.
You need to be crystal clear:
On Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday mornings at 7 AM, I will walk for 20 minutes.
This assumes you already enjoy going on walks. Or maybe you decide that every day, before you shower, you will do 5 push ups. After a few weeks, you can adjust and add more pushups or a second exercise.
The point is to be specific, consistent, and to hold yourself accountable.
5. Don’t worry about what other people are doing.
I have been guilty of this more times than I care to admit.
When you’re trying to start a fitness habit, it is critically important to focus on yourself and what you’re trying to accomplish. Hopping on Instagram and comparing yourself to people who have been consistently working out and eating well for over a decade is a recipe for disaster.
Those people didn’t create that lifestyle overnight and neither will you.
Avoid distractions that take away from the daily wins you are creating for yourself.