Lessons I picked up on the journey of building a daily exercise habit.
As someone who struggled to make exercise a part of my routine, I know the word “simple” in the title must have made you scoff.
True, there’s nothing simple about working out every day, especially if you’re stuck in a lockdown because of the pandemic and have to muster up the motivation to roll out your Yoga mat and put on your workout clothes every morning. It requires insane amounts of dedication and an unshakeable belief in yourself and your abilities.
It’s not simple, but these eight steps might work. They helped me work out consistently for more than a year, and I hope they’ll help you as well.
1. Find a workout you enjoy
Not all exercises are suited for all body types. Some people enjoy Yoga and Pilates, while others can only see changes while doing high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts. The trick is to find a workout you enjoy doing while also showing results you’d like.
You can zero in on the ideal workout by experimentation, trial, and error. Go to YouTube and try out different workouts for a few days. The ones that make you sweat the hardest while also making you feel good about your body are the ones that will keep your interest up even after extended periods.
2. Don’t chase unrealistic goals
Don’t aim for working out one hour daily while starting. Aim for smaller workouts that last for barely 5–10 minutes. If you pressure yourself too much in the beginning, it will make you feel lost. You’ll have less motivation to stick with the habit and might end up falling off the wagon.
An easy way out is to start small. Track every little progress you make, and you’ll find that working out has become a part of your schedule in no time.
3. Track your progress
Sure, you can track your measurements and body weight. But tracking your consistency is also valuable. No matter where you are in your fitness journey, an occasional pat on the back for sticking to your goals is important.
This is where a habit tracker comes in.
Mark the days on the calendar where you stuck to your new habit, and soon, you’ll get addicted to seeing the streak going on. There’s something magical about having an unbroken streak. It can make you feel accomplished and motivated to keep working.
4. Don’t compare yourself with others
Exercise has different effects on different bodies. It will do you no good to keep comparing your progress with others. Another important aspect is not to try to be someone you’re not. Working out every day might be important for some people, but studies have shown that working out three or four days a week also shows significant results.
Pick a workout and a schedule that suits your lifestyle. Don’t track your progress by comparing it with others. Keep track by comparing with where you were yesterday and how far you’ve come today.
5. Learn to identify your excuses
There’s a difference between “I can’t work out today” and “I don’t want to work out today.” The former is a legitimate response of your body and mind, while the latter is just an excuse.
What’s dangerous about excuses is that often, we disguise them with legitimate-sounding concerns like “I don’t have time today” or “I’m too tired to exercise today.” Since your body knows better than any person on the internet, you’ll be the best judge while identifying whether something is a legit concern or simply an excuse you’re making.
Don’t push yourself too hard, but just hard enough to get results.
6. Remind yourself of your WHY
As Friedrich Nietzsche famously quoted, “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.”
If keeping up your streak of working out daily feels too difficult, remind yourself of your why: What was the reason behind wanting to workout? Do you want a fitter-looking body and a healthier lifestyle?
When the reason behind working towards this goal is clear in your mind, you can deal with any excuse your brain comes up with to choose the easy way out. Remember: you’re stronger than your excuses. You can do it.
7. Make your convenience a priority
The easier it is to slip into “workout mode,” the more conveniently the new habit will fit into your routine.
Don’t make it harder on yourself by choosing a gym that’s far away from your home. Pick something that’s within walking distance, so you don’t have to convince yourself hard to get there.
Better still, start with home workouts. These literally take the least effort as all you have to do is roll your Yoga mat on the floor and start exercising. For many home workouts, you don’t even need to change clothes.
Tip 8 is to get an accountability partner. When you’re starting a new habit, it becomes much easier if you have someone to keep you accountable. Find yourself a certified coach from our directory of accountability coaches here.