New Year Resolution #1: Exercise three days a week
January 1st we feel motivated and determined to better ourselves but how do we keep that motivation flowing all year long? Here are my five tips for sticking with your exercise resolution and how I plan to put it to work in my own life!
- Make small, manageable changes
If I tried to commit myself to working out every day, following rigid and difficult fitness routines, I would give up by next week. Having high goals are fine but you have to be honest with yourself and realistic in how you are going to reach them. I haven’t worked out constantly in an embarrassing number of years and am pathetically out of shape. To make a lasting change in my life I need to start slow and small and build on a solid foundation. These are the simple changes I will add to my routine.
- Get out of bed 5 minutes earlier than normal for two weeks. For the next two weeks after that get up another 5 minutes earlier than the new time. Continue this pattern until I am getting up 30 minutes early on my three days a week.
- On each of my chosen days I will get off my bus on the stop before the stop at my office. This will force me to walk six blocks each morning rather than two. If you don’t take public transportation, you can also commit to parking as far from the door as possible.
- Three days a week I will take the stairs to and from my sixth floor office rather than the elevator.
- On Monday, Wednesday and Friday I will do five minutes of chair exercises on my lunch break. Here is a good office workout video on YouTube.
- Three days a week I will take my dog for a walk.
- I will go on a hike once a month. When you live in a place as naturally beautiful as Oregon there is no excuse not to!
- Once I am getting up 30 minutes earlier constantly I will start a 20 minute morning workout routine followed by 10 minutes of stretching.
- Rewards for success and consequences for failure
No matter how well you plan, if you get no immediate reward for your dedication it will be hard to maintain your motivation. Along the same line, if there is no consequence for skipping a day or cheating on your plan then temptation will likely win out. At the end of each week if I completed every part of my plan all 3 days I will allow myself a day of pampering. This will consist of a relaxing candle lit bath with all the frills and I will paint my toe nails a new fun color. But at the end of the week if I failed to complete any part of my plan I will run a mile regales of the weather. No excuses.
- Hold yourself accountable (or even better have someone else do it)
My plan to hold myself accountable is to carry a little notebook with me and log each activity in my plan for the days I have designated. I will have a chart for each week with each activity listed 3 times. I will check off the activities as I complete them and at the end of each week I will review my log and determine whether I receive a reward or a consequence. If you have someone who can help keep you accountable, task them to check in with you at the end of each week to review your log so you wont be tempted to “forget” to log your progress. Make sure this person is committed to staying tough with you and wont let you make excuses.
- Make it fun
This doesn’t have to be a chore. Remember when you were a kid and playing and running around outside was your favorite part of the day? Why should it be any different now that you are an adult? Making your healthier choices fun will make keeping your exercise resolution an enjoyable task. If you make it fun enough you wont ever want to give it up. Here is my plan to make it fun but you will need to find what fun means to you.
- I love sleep and getting up earlier is a challenge for me. To make getting up early fun I will spend that extra time listening to my favorite uplifting music. Once I start my morning exercise routine it will carry over as my workout playlist.
- On my longer walk from the bus stop I will play a game with myself. I will look for one thing that I find amusing or beautiful and take a moment to enjoy it.
- My dog loves going on walks and his excitement and joy at the idea is contagious. I will simply challenge myself to enjoy the walk as much as he does.
- I love going hiking and there are so many beautiful places to explore around me. This one I look forward to more than anything. What a great opportunity to connect with nature!
- Make it a priority
Your exercise plan can’t be something you do when you have spare time, there will always be something else you could be doing. You have to make your routine a priority or it wont work. Designate specific times and days for exercise. If friends or family or sleep beckons you away during your scheduled work out time, refuse. Take a rain check or push the activity out an hour (or however long you have designated for your workout). Your dedication to your resolution must be a top priority or you should choose a resolution that means more to you.
It is also important to remember why you felt this was an important change to make. I’m not happy with the way my body looks lately and I would love to loose a few pounds but that’s not why I’m dedicated to this. I need to be healthy for my family. Being physically healthy before, during and after pregnancy is a big motivator for me. Nothing is more important to me than the family I long to create and I want to be as healthy as I can be for them.
If starting an exercise routine is a desire you have in your own life and you need someone to talk to about it or to help keep you accountable please feel free to let me know!