Everything You Need To Know To Stick to Your Workout Routine
Finally, no more starting over on January 1
In 2015, my workouts suddenly stopped being optional.
I'd set New Years Resolutions with all the best intentions in the world, and watch them slowly deflate by mid-March.
I'd promise myself to "be better" each Monday morning, and then somewhere around Thursday evening, be back in bed with ice cream and Netflix.
I'd swear off drinking and drive-thru french fries and junk each Sunday night, but....well, you get the picture.Sound at all like a familiar routine?
My relationship with fitness was an off and on one, peppered with urgent periods of "oh shit I have a beach trip/wedding/Spring break coming up!" bookended between loooonnggg, complacent lulls of hiding under sweaters and blaming "life."
Like, I was either fully committed and "back on track," orrrr I was all, "treat yo self!" and skipping the gym for Chinese takeout and whole bottles of 2-Buck Chuck while watching Parks and Rec.
Sound at all familiar?
As someone who lived the on-again,-off-again life with fitness, who set those goals and then fell off and quit on herself time and time again, I know what this feels like.
I never thought I'd bust out of that cycle, frankly.. I was resigned to it. After all, it was a normal, comfortable cycle for me--predictable.
While I'm human, so I'm not perfect (nor is that the aim) I have reached a place in my health that I'm very proud of. I've been consistent AF with my fitness since 2015, so this ain't a passing phase.
And I know you want the goods...the tips, the actionable items that you can implement too, or you wouldn't have read this much. So imma try and share them.
Disclaimer, real quick: I know we live in a "one easy hack" society. We want a quick fix and a quick tip, and there just isn't one. If there was, everyone would be working out 5 days a week and this world would be in a way different state than it is.
Like anything worth having in life, there is no one quick fix answer, but here are a few of them that massively shifted the game for me and turned me into a person I never thought I'd be.
1. Understand The Brain Vs. Feelings War
If we were all walking around operating like a brain with legs, we'd simply decide to workout, sign up for the gym, go each day, and like a robot, and make good choices forever!
But we're not run by our brains--hate to break it to you-- we're driven by our emotions.
I don't care if you're an INFJ or a 4 or a 9 enneagram or a Virgo or Pisces...we're all driven by emotions, albeit to varying degrees. We are all pain-avoiding, pleasure-seeking animals, and that has everything to do with how we feel, not think.
This is why you can read every article and know all the reasons intellectually to do xyz, and still, it doesn't happen. You can want to workout and have every intention to, but you don't, because it hurts and it's cold out and you wanna watch Fleabag and eat leftover mac and cheese instead.
Our brain things long term, but our feelings think immediate: as in, the pain right now of a hard workout, sore muscles, choosing a smoothie vs. ice cream* (remember this, it'll come up in a sec.)
We need to understand that both our brain and feelings are driving the car, but mostly our feelings, and start trying to get the two of them talking.
For example, if your brain says workout and your feels say eat a bagel instead, bargain with your feelings. Say "ok ok, how about we do an at-home workout, only 15 mins long, and see how we feel?" Don't force yourself into a 2-hour CrossFit sesh. Start small. Talk a walk, even.
Starting is 99% of the battle because once you start, endorphins will kick in and you'll remember why people work out. And if you don't feel good? Ok. Sometimes you won't.
But start with 3 days a week, and do a workout you enjoy (always!) and realize done is better than perfect.
It's not all or nothing. Apease both your brain and emotions and more and more, your feelings will catch up to your brain and realize hey, you kinda enjoy those once-dreaded workouts.
Have a Purpose a Lot Bigger Than A Spring Break Bod
Losing 10 lbs to look hot for a cruise isn't gonna cut it.
Every time I hear a super inspiring, makes-you-tear-up story about an athlete achieving some insane fear, running the whole Appalachian trail or beating a long-held record, you can be sure as shit they didn't do it to look hot or lose weight.
Even the mom you know who gets her workouts in every day despite having all the excuses not to--there's something bigger at play, I promise.
You've gotta have a deep purpose. Period.
Losing 10 lbs to look hot is a side effect that will happen, but it cannot be your driving force, root purpose, or WHY.
Instead, your purpose could be:
Got your purpose? Good.
Now supercharge it by making some affirmations and mantras around it. Meaning, say out loud or in your head your purpose every day, at a designated time. Write in on your mirror, make it your phone/computer background, write it on post its and stick to the fridge, your car dash, the light switches.
Supercharge it even more by connecting an action and specific details to your affirmation, like this: "My purpose is to show people what veganism can do, because I am the type of person who values her health and uses it to show others how to value theirs. And in order to do this, I commit to doing my workouts each day at 4-5pm EST, and sharing a tip every day in my Instagram stories about how to go vegan."
How You Talk To Yourself Matters
Remember how earlier I mentioned the short-term pain of choosing a smoothie vs. ice cream?
I read something fascinating the other day about just that. A study was done where some participants were given a blended up smoothie with healthy ingredients like plant milk, kale, fruit, and seeds, and a second group was given a rich milkshake with ice cream, chocolate, and peanut butter. Obviously, the first group felt like they missed out on the deliciousness.
But you freaking know what? The people running the test lied....both groups were given the exact same dang thing!! Same ingredients, same everything. One group was told they were drinking a smoothie with healthy ingredients, and the other was told they were guzzling a rich, calorie-packed milkshake. And their satiation/happiness totally changed, based on that!
If this doesn't illustrate how much mindset and thoughts matter, I don't know what does!
If you're walking around with the internal dialogue of "my diet sucks," "I'm dreading my workout," "this vegan cheese tastes like crap compared to brie," then boy howdy I bet you'll believe those thoughts. Telling yourself every day "losing weight is so hard for me," "I can't build abs," etc....that's not helping anything.
Where the mind goes, the body follows. Rewrite those negative stories and fake it till you make it - tell yourself 300 times a day if you have to, that you're stronger and healthier every day, that you're enough, that you're becoming healthier.
No mindset isn't everything, but it's a big part of it.
Don't Cop Out by Blaming Motivation
This is a biggie. I wrote a whole post dedicated to motivation which I suggest you give a read.
If there's one phrase I hear more than any other, as an explanation for why someone can't work out regularly, it's "I'm lacking motivation."
Motivation is that initial spark, that enthusiasm, that drive we feel on January 1, or as the end-credits of a health documentary roll.
It's not a long term emotion or strategy.
First, stop giving motivation more credit than it's due. It's nice to kick you in the pants on day 1, but it will fade--expect that. People who work out regularly are disciplined, have a purpose, have habits in place, have built their will power muscles, and all the other points gone over here.
Motivation or lack thereof is not what you should desire or blame.
If it's time to work out and you're not feeling it, cool! Welcome to the club. Put on your cute shoes, get your ass to the gym, crank up the tunes, and 5-4-3-2-1 count backward and just do it. More time and pain and effort is spent deliberating doing the workout than just doing it. Focus on how you'll feel in the moment - good, strong, healthy, badass, etc.
Have People To Answer To/Show Up For
I've lost track of the articles and research I've read that share the same takeaway: accountability is key.
And I can attest to it first-hand, having run an online group where my clients and I check in daily with our workouts for 4 + years now (P.S. you should really, really join us!)
It makes a huge difference.
There are countless times where I want to skip my workout, and then I see Emily, Jordan, and Diane all posting their sweaty selfies. Knowing you have someone else in the boat with you taps into our key human desires to be a part of something. If you can't stay true to your goals for yourself, you are a lot more likely to when someone else is waiting on you to show up.
Set Habits, and Put Yourself in the Way of Success
This one's easy to understand. If you don't want to eat ice cream, and you know you're helpless around it, and that ice cream is your Achilles heel, well how bout don't buy ice cream (nope, not even if it's BOGO!)
No human being on earth can or should deprive themselves 24/7...you'll just end up binging more when you do (and I promise you will.) But on the daily, your fridge/home/life better reflect the way you want to eat/live.
P.S. Environment matters. Put the salad mix in a clear glass container at eye level in your fridge, not hidden in the back. Line up your workout shoes and outfit right in front of your bed where you'll see them in the A.M. Prep your meals so you can grab them and go. This should be obvious but it's not often done.
James Clear is an amazing speaker/writer on this topic, if you want to learn more and hear where I learned a lot of this from!
Just make it easy on yourself however you can.
Having Said That...Develop Your Will Power Muscle Over Time
I can hear you now with the "yeah but my husband/kids/spouse/roommate eats trash and it's always around and it makes it so much harder!"
I feel you.
In an ideal world, there'd be no junk in my house, but in reality, I've lived with a couple of boyfrineds now and plenty of family who don't eat at all the way I eat. Back when prepping for my first show, I was dating a guy who literally ordered Papa John's pizza or Chinese take out (my two favorite treats) everyyyy single night for several months. I've been at Bachelorette parties and all-you-can-eat-and-drink resorts in Mexico, and St. Patty's day beer crawls all while dedicated to staying sober.
So clearly, if the options in our immediate environment were the only piece of the puzzle, I'd have caved long ago.
And will power is just that - a muscle. Like any, it really does get stronger over time. I've read a lot of books and research explaining that with each positive decision we make, our will power muscle is bolstered, making it easier to make another good decision next time. It's the compound effect. Say no to a drink because you've decided to be sober, have fun anyway, realize it's not that bad to sip kombucha or water, and next time you're out, you'll remember this positive experience and be that much more likely to not drink, again.
Another thing to know; our will power muscle gets tired, like any. If you've made a string of hard decisions and been tested, you're going to be worn out and more likely to make a poor decision. This is why if you've had an emotionally trying day, you're more likely to come home and eat like shit. Know this. We only have one will power muscle, for work, life, love, friendships, etc. If you're stressed in one area, it spills over into the next. AKA, if you're on a strict eating plan, don't be surprised if it's harder to resist online shopping. Or if you're on a no-spend November and doing really well with it, you may find it harder to resist the cookies.
I already know this post will be edited and added to as I continue to learn more about will power and longeivity and consistency - it's a monster of a topic, and by no means do I claim to have all the answers or have it all figured out.
If you've made it to here, the next step is to fill out my free application so I can learn more about your goals! I look over this daily, and will be in touch directly with some tips and suggestions of ways we could either work together with you as my client or at the very least, can throw some resources like articles and recipes and free tips your way!
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