One of the hardest things about getting back into a workout routine is the high "give up" factor. If you're like a lot of people, you go to the gym... once. Or you open a yoga video on YouTube, only to spend the majority of it lying in corpse pose. It's totally normal, but just goes to show that getting back in shape is tough.
It can be so tough, in fact, that most of us make a million excuses and let everything get in the way. As Kierstin Elliott, an instructor at Flex Studios, says in an email to Bustle, "People give up on their workout early for multiple reasons: They don't see results right away, they don't set specific goals, or they're not committed to changing their lifestyle."
Scheduling (or lack there of), also plays a role. "I think time is a huge factor for people giving up on their workout routines," says Chrysetta Stevens, also an instructor at Flex Studios. "Our most successful clients are able to get into a routine and stick to it."
That's precisely why easing yourself back into workout routine is the way to go. Going slow, and giving yourself time to adjust to a new routine and new feelings (mainly, soreness), will make sticking with it much easier. Read on for easy ways to begin exercising, so you no longer have to give up on feeling healthy.
1. Start Off Really Slow
In order to make this whole exercise thing stick — without overwhelming yourself and giving up — you'll want to take things slow. "Start with finding a Monday workout that you love and go every week," Stevens says. "Once you are in the groove, add Wednesday, and so on until you've got a 'regular' schedule of classes and workouts that are each a little different, but are also fun and make you feel so good that you want to prioritize them."
2. Set Realistic Goals
If you haven't worked out in a hot minute, then don't expect yourself to work out every day. And definitely don't get down on yourself when you aren't all ripped and chiseled by day two. Instead, set realistic goals, and remember that getting fit again takes time.
3. Make Sure You Have Fun
"Finding a workout you 100 percent love that keeps you interested and excited every time you go is key," Stevens says. So whatever you do, don't resign yourself to the old, boring standards. If you hate running, don't do it. If you can't stand lifting weights, try a different way to gain strength. There are a million and one ways to workout. Don't let boredom be your undoing.
4. Commit To At Least 10 Days
If the idea of working out again seems daunting, then tell yourself it's "just for 10 days." Ten days is nothing, in the grand scheme of things. And it may be just long enough to start a new habit, according to Karen LoBello on Livestrong.com. Here's hoping on day 11 you'll be so into working out, that you won't want to stop.
5. Exercise First Thing In The A.M.
Another fun way to ease yourself into a workout routine? Do it first thing in the morning, before the day gets in the way. "I'm a huge believer in getting an early start," Stevens says. "If you get your workout in first thing, there are way less factors that can creep up and stop you from getting into the studio."
6. Reward Thyself
Exercise will feel rewarding after a while. But until then, give yourself some other incentives to keep going. Think about treating yourself to a massage after you've completed a goal, Elliott suggests. Or buy yourself some cute new workout gear. Anything that will keep you motivated is totally worth it.
7. Make Some Exercise Friends
You'll be less likely to bail on exercise if you're meeting a friend. So either drag your BFF out for a jog, or make some new pals at the gym. "Talk to other people in your class ... Introduce yourself and be a part of the community so that you look forward to seeing each other and you hold each other accountable," Stevens says. When you aren't in this alone, it'll feel way easier.
8. Prevent Muscle Soreness
Nothing is going to derail a new workout routine faster than the pain and agony that is soreness. So prevent it from getting too bad by taking good care of yourself post-workout. Refuel, make sure you rest, and prioritize some stretching. "Flexibility is one of the most overlooked protocols of fitness routines, and establishing these protocols early on will allow your body to properly readjust to the new demands that will be placed on it," said Jay Cardiello on Shape.
9. Stop Being Mean To Yourself
Starting an exercise routine has the potential to be difficult, as you navigate soreness, boredom, and that intense desire to quit. But what may really do you in is the intense guilt that follows missing a workout. As Paige Waehner said on VeryWell.com, "Guilt, when taken too far, can sometimes keep you from getting back to your healthy habits." If you miss a day, don't feel bad. Just get back to it tomorrow, and do the best you can.
10. Hit Up A Personal Trainer
If going it alone isn't working out (no pun intended), then don't be afraid to hit up a personal trainer. Like meeting a friend, having an appointment with a trainer can help keep you accountable. A professional can also teach you the correct way to exercise, so you can at least go forth alone with some tips and tricks, according to LoBello.
11. Have Your Workout Gear Ready
I don't know about you, but when workout time approaches, I often look for something, anything to turn into an excuse. My usual go-to is my tragic lack of workout clothes. Or, my missing sneakers. Or, the fact I have no clean yoga pants. Sound familiar? Then keep all your workout gear ready to go. Life will not only be easier, but you'll have one less excuse.
12. Make Sure You Eat
Once you start working out, you'll likely feel hungry all the time due to all those burned calories. Snacking on nutrient-dense foods can help keep you feeling good, according to LoBello, and ready to hit the gym again tomorrow.
13. Focus On How Good You Feel
OK, so all this talk about sore muscles and getting up early might be putting you off. But don't let the agony, or the change in your routine, get you down. As Emily Skye said on Women's Running, "Sometimes we focus too much on the effort of it, rather than the outcome." So shift your attention to how good you feel after a walk, or to all the ways your body is getting stronger and healthier. Let that be your motivation to stick with it.
Because if you want to be healthy, some form of exercise should be part of your life. Like, forever. The easier you can make it on yourself — by having fun, creating a routine, and staying positive — the better.
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