How to stay motivated
We all have friends who, despite hectic schedules, never miss a day at the gym. Who can’t stop talking about the next 10K Who can’t stop smiling after crossfit class. Sure, they’re a little, well, obsessive about working out. But we envy them! The good news is we all have the potential to become fitness-obsessed. Here are 10 proven ways to make exercise a habit.
- Get up earlier
Right this minute, go set your alarm and lay out everything you need for your morning workout. (Switch on a lamp as soon as your alarm goes off) Working out at the same time every day may help you improve more quickly, a study from the University of North Texas found, and other research has shown that people who exercise in the morning are more likely to stick with their workout than those who exercise later in the day. After all, if you get your sweat session out of the way first thing in the a.m., you won’t miss out if unexpected distractions come up later in the day. (And while we’re on the subject, skip the snooze button: Research suggests that those extra few minutes in bed may actually make you more tired.)
- Give it six weeks
There’s an urban legend that it takes 21 days for something to become a habit, but there’s little evidence to back up this claim. For exercise, it’s probably more like six weeks. Once you see these changes you won’t want to go back to the old you! This is also about the time you’ll start to notice the difference in how you feel if you miss a day or two of exercise, and you’ll start to appreciate the natural high that comes after a good workout.
- Find your niche
So you tried spinning and you hated it, or you overwhelmed yourself on your first day of Crossfit. That doesn’t mean that all forms of fitness aren’t for you—so get back out there and try a different one. Real Change Fitness has lots to offer when it comes to your exercise needs. We have something that makes you tune out and gives you a release from your daily grind. Whether that means focusing on the ground ahead of you in a Cardioflex class , or following the instructor in a Crossfit class. You’ll know you found it when you look at the clock and an hour flashes by without you noticing.
- Pay for it
Being accountable with money is a good thing, If you invest in a fitness regimen, you’re more likely to work harder to get your money’s worth. If you can afford it, joining Real Change Fitness could be just the thing you need to force yourself to actually go. Or, bribe yourself with smaller investments—treat yourself to a new pair of running shoes or a new GPS watch, for example.
- Don’t overdo it
One way to put a stop to your new exercise habit before it even gets off the ground? Getting hurt. Beginners (or people just returning to fitness after a long break) need to be careful about trying to do too much, too soon which can leave you sore and exhausted—or worse yet, with a real injury that will keep you sidelined for even longer. It’s normal to have some muscle aches and stiffness a day or two after working out muscles you haven’t used in a while, but if you start to feel sick or overly tired, you could be training too hard. Following a training plan or work with one of our personal trainers can to you make sure you’re progressing at a reasonable pace.
- Get techy (and social)
For some people, the feel-good side effects of exercise are enough to keep them going. Others need something a little more tangible to get themselves up and out of bed every morning. If you thrive on statistics and numbers, you may find that using apps, computer programs, or wearable pedometers and fitness trackers can help you stay on track with a new routine. Whether you’re counting your daily steps or the number of calories you’ve burned, technology can help you challenge yourself to new personal bests every day. Plus, many of these programs can be integrated with your social networks, making it easy to let your Facebook feed know that you just ran 3 miles or checked in at the gym. Once your friends start asking you about your new exercise habits, it may be harder to let them fall by the wayside.
- Count your calories
It’s not directly related to exercise, but paying closer attention to what you’re putting into your body can make you more aware of how you’re treating it, overall. (Keeping a food and fitness diary or using a calorie-tracking app can also remind you of how a few more minutes on the elliptical can help balance out that extra scoop of guacamole.) Plus, a 2013 Stanford University study found that people who adopt a diet and exercise program together are more likely to stick with both new habits than those who tackle an individual goal by itself.
- Make it a ritual
The most important thing about establishing a regular routine, whether it’s exercise or anything else, is to truly make it a habit—something you don’t even think twice about before doing. This will come with time, but you can help hurry the process along by creating daily rituals that center around your workout: Sip a cup of coffee on your way to the gym in the morning, roll out your yoga mat in front of the TV when you wake up in the morning, or listen to a favorite song to get you pumped up before you head out for a run. Before you know it, these cues will be signaling to your brain that it’s time to work out—not time to make excuses.
- Don’t make it about you
Charity fitness events—runs, walks, bike rides, even mountain climbing trips—can do double duty when it comes to motivation: Not only are you training for a concrete goal, but you’re also doing it for a good cause. It can be really empowering, to know that this small thing you’re doing for yourself can also have a bigger impact on other people who really need it.
- Get goofy
Fitness competitions may sound pretty boring to some people; why pay money to wake up early and run around in circles, again? If a regular old 5K doesn’t quite do it for you, grab some friends and sign up for something with a bit more personality. From mud runs to military-inspired obstacle courses to costumed and “color” races (which involve participants getting splattered with brightly colored paint and powder), themed fun runs are certainly having a moment. And the best part? They’re all about finishing and having a good time; many of them aren’t even timed, and they welcome runners and walkers of all ages and fitness levels.