Starting a new fitness schedule is daunting. We know what our goals are (hopefully!), and we have an idea of how to achieve them, but man, this is going to take a long time and even though you’ve gone to the gym one week, you can’t see abs of steel yet. This is impossible. You might as well eat that doughnut…
Don’t! Before you give up, I bring you seven tips to make sure you enjoy your fitness schedule and stick to it!
1. Do something you enjoy
This might seem quite obvious, but it’s not. A lot of times we’re told that in order to lose weight we need to go running, or that the best way to keep fit is to do aerobic. Maybe the only way to get ripped is by lifting weights at the gym?
If you hate any of those activities, chances are you will join the gym or go for a couple of runs, hate every second of it and quit.
Isn’t it much better to do something you actually enjoy?
Maybe you like dancing, with the right tempo it can be a good cardio session. What about walking? Try to speed up or go hiking! Do you want to keep fit? How about martial arts, or parkour, or swimming? Maybe you enjoy going for a nice bike ride, basket and all included? Do what makes you happy!
Truth is there are endless possibilities for exercise and once you get used to working out regularly, it’ll be easier for you to see the benefits of exercise and even dip your toes in different activities (cross training is encouraged in many sports in order to improve our skills!).
2. Schedule your workouts
There’s no denying it, life happens. You have the best intentions to work out and then work is a nightmare and you end up on a call with Australia at 7pm. By the time you finish, you have a long commute, you’re tired and hangry. There’s no way you’re going to the gym now.
It’s funny how we set up meetings that we can’t miss for other people, but we always reschedule the meetings with ourselves. This is something that took me a long time to get used to, but once you start doing it, it actually works great.
Sure, the first couple of times you tell people you can’t join them because you are going to the gym, they might give you The Look, but after a few times it becomes normal. After all, people leave on time always because of other reasons they have (specific train schedules, picking up children from school, doctor’s appointments, etc.) so it’s a matter of getting into the habit. If something needs to be done, you can always catch up after your session.
If you start blocking the time in your calendar, you will see a change in your attitude and it will become easier to say no to the third drinks-at-the-pub evening this the week and do a workout instead.
3. Find a training buddy
No matter what you’re into, chances are there’s someone else into it too. And I would say, maybe even in your group of friends! Try to convince a friend to join you, or a work colleague, and you will have someone to keep you accountable. If you have a reliable group to train with, even better, but don’t let one person bailing out change everyone’s motivation!
Don’t focus on the negative aspects, but explain to your buddy-to-be how much fun you’re having exercising, and any changes you’ve already experienced (if any), and they will be more likely to join you. Inspiring those around you is much easier than you think!
If there’s someone more advanced than you, don’t be afraid to ask them to buddy up! Most people will enjoy some company from time to time, and it might be an excuse for them to take it easy once a week. Keep in mind that some people might not realise their easy is actually pushing you, so don’t be afraid to let them know if it’s too much (but don’t shy away from a good challenge).
If there’s no one in your group, find them online! There are lots of groups out there that meet up to exercise and do activities, so don’t miss out!
If you’re too shy to meet up with a random group of people, why don’t work with a personal trainer? They will work at your pace, they will challenge you and motivate you, and you’ll be more likely to achieve your goals.
4. Plan, plan, plan
As we said above, life happens, and when it does, it’s difficult to stick to your schedule. The way to overcome this is by planning in advance so you always know where you stand, but not plan so much that you have no flexibility.
If you already know next weekend is your best friend’s birthday, then plan around it. Sure, you might be out on Saturday drinking all night, so your long run on Sunday is unlikely to happen… Why not schedule your session for Saturday morning then? That way you won’t feel as guilty when going out and won’t miss out on a good party.
Speaking of going out, know how much you want to drink in advance, or how much you want to eat so you don’t overdo it. Do a longer session next time, reshuffle your schedule or change the type of activity you’re doing. Always keep a plan B, and even a plan C just in case, and you will be fine! If you don’t have a plan, chances are you will miss a session and feel guilty afterwards, which decreases your motivation and makes it easier to give up.
5. Visualise your goals
Always keep your goals in mind and if possible, keep them in a very prominent place in your life!
Make sure you know what your goals are (the more SMART and specific they are, the better), and make sure you see them every day.
I have a Pinterest board with my own personal goals, which revolve around strength and a healthy body, challenging myself. On top of this, I created an image with my preferred pictures and I set it as my phone background so I see it every minute of everyday. This keeps me motivated because I know what I want and it’s just in front of me all the time.
Maybe you like lists, so write your goals down and hang them by your mirror, or on the fridge (not as a deterrent, but as a visible place). Maybe you have a celebrity in mind you would like to look like, or an athlete, don’t be afraid to hang a poster of them in your room, office or workout space. Put an alarm on your phone, notes on your calendar… If you see your goals everyday, you will start working towards them all the time, even without noticing. Each time you see your goals, ask yourself: What am I doing today that’s getting me closer to my goal? and work on it!
If you need help outlining your goals, drop me a line.
I don’t know about you, but whenever I start something new I always dive in, head first, and I can become obsessed. It becomes everything I think about, talk about and work on, which can lead to burning myself out. When you do something you enjoy (or when you are working towards a goal you really, really want), it’s very easy to end up doing it every single day, non stop. I’m glad to hear you have such motivation! But stop.
Overtraining is a thing, and you can injure yourself. Your body needs to rest, and your mind needs to rest too from time to time. I know it’s difficult to take breaks (there are so many memes out there about rest days, I guess it’s a general thing) but your body will thank you.
Sometimes rest mean doing absolutely nothing for one day, and other times it means doing something different, or less.
If you normally do strength training, how about doing some yoga and walking on your rest day? If you’re a long distance runner, yoga is also a good alternative, as is stretching in general, but so is a short easy run. A rest day doesn’t mean you have to sit on the sofa all day watching Netflix, and certainly it doesn’t mean to eat all the things, it just means you need to give your body the chance to recover, so you can smash your goals the next day.
7. Have fun
I left this one for the last because it’s one that we sometimes forget to remember, especially when we’ve been training for a while.
At the beginning, a new fitness schedule is fun and exciting and well, new, so we’re looking forward to working out and reaching our goals. It’s very common to see some immediate changes, especially if we’re not super healthy to start with. As we improve our fitness levels, the gains get smaller and smaller due to our bodies becoming more efficient. At this point, it’s all too common to start focusing on numbers, personal bests, times, paces, numbers of sessions, progress… We focus so much on these things that we forget to have fun. If you start asking people why they go to the gym, or why they’re training in this or that way, they will tell you that it’s because they’re trying to beat their race time (by two minutes), increase their bench weight lifting power, or similar. I’m sure they still enjoy what they’re doing, they just forget they’re also having fun while trying to smash their goals. Don’t be one of them!
If you always track all your progress and sessions, go out one day just to have fun, no Fitbit and nothing to track your pace. If you are always measuring every weight, have a session just for the fun of it, maybe try new exercises and don’t be afraid to fail (always being careful if you’re lifting heavy weights, please!). Train hard of course, but there’s no point in doing it if it doesn’t leave you tongue hanging, but with a smile on your face!
These are my tips to help you stick to a new fitness schedule. What about you? Do you have any tips you would like to share?