‘The only bad workout is the one you didn’t do’
I’ve been writing a series of posts about how I’m tackling my New Year Resolutions this year. My resolution is to take good care of my health, but due to this being a massive topic I have split it into 12 parts and am focusing on one part each month.
This month I’m looking at exercise. Before I get started on exercise, let me do a quick review on how I have got on from the previous 2 months. I am extremely happy with my month 1 progress on reducing alcohol. I have made significant progress on this and would say I have embedded a massive change. I have stuck to the limits I set myself and would even say that I have achieved more than I set out to. Some weeks I haven’t drunk anything at all and I’ve not missed it in the slightest. I’ve really changed my habits here and feel like I don’t have to focus much on this any more for the rest of the year as it coming with little effort now.
With month 2: Healthy Eating, I have made some progress, but still need to focus more on certain areas. I’m still finding it difficult to only eat when I am hungry. I’m so conditioned to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner, it is taking some time to break this habit. I also need to focus more on stopping eating when I am full. It’s particularly hard when it is going to go to waste if I don’t eat it.
The area I have done well with is taking my lunch to work. There have been very few days when I have not done this, and I have eaten much more healthily for lunch as a result. This element is embedded as a habit, I will continue to work on the other steps. My main barrier is breaking the feeling of wanting to eat just because of the time. I will continue to work on this.
In terms of exercise, this is what I am setting out to do from March:
Break down the goal into what I want to achieve
- I want to exercise regularly every week
- I want to look toned
- I want to improve my fitness
- I want my clothes to fit me more comfortably
- I want to feel healthy
- I want to enjoy the exercise that I do and feel like I am spending my time well
Define minimum and maximum standards
A perfect week would be exercising 5 times a week of a session of 30 minutes or more. The minimum standard is 3 times a week of 30 minute or more exercise.
I will do a mixture of yoga, Bikram, running, ballet and home HIIT sessions with Joe Wicks.
Identify barriers that might stop me from being successful
When I am travelling I get out of my routine and sometimes it can stop me from exercising. I will plan in advance to ensure that when I travel I can do some exercise and then start my normal routine as soon as I return home
When I am ill it means I can’t exercise and sometimes even when I get better it is hard to get back into it. I will start gentle exercise such as walking and as soon as I am fit and healthy, start my routine again without any delay.
When I am busy at work, I will prioritise exercise, even if it is just a 15 min session, to ensure I have got out and raised my heart rate.
When I feel tired and have little energy I will remind myself how good I feel after exercising and that it gives me more energy.
I use Nike Running app to track my runs. I love to see how far I have run and how quickly. I also enjoy getting the alerts of when my friends have been for a run as it motivates me to go out myself.
I have started becoming more focused on improving my fitness rather than just going through the motions of exercise. I am tracking whether I am getting better at the exercises I am doing and competing with myself to improve each time.
Make any necessary adjustments based on my learning
From previous experience I believe there are 3 key elements that ensure you can embed an exercise habit:
1) Fit it into your schedule
Figure out when the best time for you to exercise is. Plan it well. If something always comes up in the evening, try and do it in the morning. See if you can fit something into your lunch break. If you have more time at the weekend, save your longer workouts for then. If you have plans at the weekend and know you wont be able to exercise, schedule it all into the week. It’s a case of planning ahead so that you know you can fit in at least your minimum standards.
2) Do what you enjoy
It is much easier to embed a habit of exercise if you find something you enjoy. If you are feeling a sense of dread about what lies ahead, it will be much more likely that you decide to give it a miss. If you are looking forward to it as it is something you enjoy, it is much easier to commit to it. There are so many different types of exercise there is something for everyone. Outdoors, indoors, individual or in a team, at home or in the gym, the options are endless. Try out a few things until you find something you enjoy. Don’t force yourself to exercise, find something that you look forward to doing, that isn’t a chore.
3) Try shorter but more effective exercise
It is possible to find yourself just going through the motions of exercise. Maybe you have headed down to the gym for an hour, but have barely broken a sweat or you take part in an exercise class but with the minimum effort needed to get through. If this is the case, you might be better off shortening your sessions, but opting for something more intense that really gets your heart rate up. For this I always use Joe Wicks Workouts. You can do them in 20 minutes and you feel like you have worked really hard by the end. It doesn’t harm that working out with Joe Wicks, even if it is on YouTube rather than in person, is a pretty enjoyable way to spend 20 minutes!
I’ll see how I get on throughout March and whether I manage to stick to the standards I have set for myself. I’ll identify if I face any particular barriers and how I overcome them. I’d love to hear any tips you have for embedding exercise as a habit in the comments below.
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