If your goal for the new year is to create a habit of movement, this article is for you!
Don’t set a new year’s resolution and have it fizzle out just a few short weeks later. Instead, here are 6 steps you can implement starting today, to set yourself up for success.
Step #1 – Schedule it!
Merely saying you’ll become more active is not enough, especially if your exercise habit is not yet built and if you have a busy life.
It’s crucial that you schedule your workouts & activities the same way you would any other event or meeting.
My advice is that you do the scheduling on a weekly basis.
Here’s why this matters:
- You made the mental commitment
- You blocked off the time
- You have visibility into what you accomplished
- You can start seeing patterns, and figuring out what works and what doesn’t
- You prioritized physical activity
- You can make changes based on how things went the previous week
Even to this day, I write out my physical activities in my planner on a weekly basis, as one of my goals for the week. This approach keeps me honest and accountable.
Step #2 – Embrace failure
If you’re too afraid to start because you think you’ll fail… well, then you’ve already failed.
It may not be perfect right off the bat, and it may even feel like you’re not doing enough. That’s fine! Just start somewhere, and move forward through trial and error. It takes time to figure out all the parameters of an optimal exercise routine:
- The time of day that works best
- The optimal number of routines/activities per week
- The optimal duration of your exercise routine
- The kind of exercise/movement you enjoy
If you try something and it doesn’t work out – don’t think of it as a failure. Instead, think of the great insight you’ve gained: you know that thing doesn’t work for you. Now you can move on to trying the next thing
Step #3 – Shift your mindset from “workout” to “movement”
Creating a habit of movement doesn’t have to mean you have to stick to traditional workout. Instead, think of ways you can move your body throughout the day.
- Walking to pick up your groceries
- House chores
- Chasing after kids
- Raking leaves in the garden
- Fun at the swimming pool
- And yes, even climbing a playground structure
These all count! If you moved your body, it counts!
Step #4 – Slow and steady wins the race
Building an exercise habit is about consistency – not intensity!* If you’ve done an intense workout that leaves you sore for 3 days, you’ve pushed too hard. You can’t build a habit that way.
And if you push too hard before your body is ready, you’re also increasing your risk of injury.
Remember: The goal isn’t to become a professional athlete! It’s to move your body! So turn it down a notch, and increase your exercise frequency instead!
(*Note: This doesn’t mean exercise shouldn’t challenge your body. It absolutely should, as that’s the only way to effect change. But it should be tailored to challenge your body – not destroy it)
Step #5 – Make your own choices
I had one client who felt really bummed out that hitting the gym at 6am was never her cup of tea – no matter how hard she tried, she was just not a morning person! Once she let go of that mindset and explored new patterns that could work for her, she became sooo much happier!
The lesson here is that there is no one way to exercise – so don’t get pigeonholed into a certain way of doing things if it doesn’t work for you.
Remember: It’s movement that counts. How you move your body is completely up to you!
You will likely discover that you like some activities more than others – do those!
You might even find seasonal differences in the kind of activities you like to do during the summer versus the winter – go with the flow!
Even the way a workout is delivered might make a difference. For example, I only tried Zumba when it started being offered virtually – and I absolutely loved it, as you can see from the photo! Had it not been for virtual classes, I would have never tried it. No way was I going to embarrass myself in an in-person class.
There are SOOOO many different ways to move your body, and variety is the spice of life! Don’t limit yourself to what you think you should be doing.
Step #6 – Know when to ask for help
Perhaps you need a bit of external accountability to help build your habit of movement. Or you don’t know how to use the equipment in the gym/in your home. Or you have some past injuries/limitations that are inhibiting what you can do.
Ask a close friend or family member to keep you accountable. Ask your class instructor to offer modifications for exercises that you can’t do. Hire a personal trainer to show you the ropes, or a kinesiologist for more complex issues. See a physio for that shoulder that keeps bugging you.
Take ownership of your fitness journey and enlist others to help you along the way. Don’t feel like you have to go at it alone.
Here’s to you building a long term exercise habit!
Let’s work (out) together
I love working with people who are ready and committed to making long term changes in their lives.
My approach focuses on:
- Creating a sustainable, long term habit of movement
Practicing correct movement patterns
Enhancing your own body awareness
Building core strength, body strength, endurance, balance and flexibility
Educating you on how intricate, complex, smart and bad-ass your body is
If this approach resonates with you, let’s talk!Let’s get started!