It’s Sunday. You’ve made a commitment to yourself to begin your healthy lifestyle on Monday and are super pumped to start hitting the gym again. Your fridge is stocked with healthy food, you’ve spent hours looking up “Fitness Motivation” on Pinterest, and you even bought some cute new workout clothes. You know exactly what your goals are and feel as though nothing can stop you.
But then life happens and before you know it it’s Friday and you haven’t made it to the gym once.
All too often we have an end goal in sight but don’t have a plan as to how we’re going to get there. We know we want to be beach ready by summer, but aside from saying we’re going to hit the gym 5 times this week the planning rarely goes further.
We live in a BUSY world. Between work, commuting, family obligations, social obligations, as well as taking care of our own personal needs, it’s not difficult for time to slip past us without even noticing. We need to learn how to maximize the time that we do have so we don’t find ourselves disappointed for not reaching our goals.
With regards to working out, I’ve always found it easiest to remain consistent when I have a plan. Saying you want to workout 4 times this week is great, but there’s 168 hours in a week and a lot can happen to throw you off your game. When are you going to workout? What exactly do you plan on doing? These are things that need to be thought about in advance if you want to increase your chance of accomplishing the larger goal.
Follow these steps and you’ll be much less likely to allow life to prevent you from reaching your goals. Sure, once in awhile life is going to hand you something you have no control over which may throw you off course a bit, but by having a set plan the little every day distractions will have less of a negative impact.
1. Set aside time to make your plan.
On Sundays (or whatever the day before your week starts is) take 15 minutes to sit down and look ahead at your week. When are you working? What commitments do you already have in place? Where do you have free time leftover to fit your workouts in? Now you obviously don’t want to fill all of your free time with exercise, however getting some activity in and spending time working towards your goals will leave you feeling recharged and ready to take on the rest of life’s handouts.
2. Pencil in your workouts.
Look at your fitness hour as you would any other appointment. Whether you use the Calendar app in your phone, a day planner, or even a calendar on the wall, set aside enough time for your workout (and making it to and from the gym) AND STICK TO IT. You wouldn’t just not show up to a doctor’s appointment or lunch with a friend, would you? Attach the same importance to your health and fitness goals.
3. Make a plan within the plan.
Okay, so you know you’re going to go to the gym Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 6:30 until 7:30, and you’ve even set aside an extra 30 minutes for travel time. But what are you going to do once you’re there? Not everybody feels the need to have every exercise, rep, and set laid out to a T, but if you know what you want to accomplish you’re going to waste less time wandering around and staring at machines. If you’re already not really feelin’ the gym but you’ve managed to pull yourself there, you’ll be less likely to ditch early if you have a plan of attack in mind, knowing that you can leave as soon as its done.
It’s no secret that we all want results as fast as possible. And while there may not be any shortcuts, there are ways to maximize your efforts and minimize the amount of time that’s wasted. Having an idea of what you want to accomplish with your workouts in the week will allow you to plan each of them accordingly. If you like getting a mix of cardio and weight training, but you know that on the weekend you’re going for a long run with a friend, you can focus on the weights during the week so you get an even balance.
Your plan should also be in accordance with your goals. If you’re looking to lose weight, you’re better off with a blend of cardio and weight training as opposed to just one or the other. If your goal is to build muscle you’re better off with more weight training and less cardio. And if your goal is to run a 10km, you might be better off running than going to a Zumba class.
4. Stick to your plan!
Motivation levels are highest within the first couple of weeks of an exercise program and then tend to decline. DON’T FALL VICTIM TO THIS. Stick with it! Even if you don’t lose 10lb in the first week like you wanted to (because you’re not going to), even if your workouts aren’t going as planned, even if your couch looks way more appealing than the gym, DON’T GIVE UP. If you remain consistent you will begin to notice progress, you’ll become more focused in the gym, and your motivation levels will begin to rise. Working out will become a habit and soon you won’t even have to think twice about heading to the gym, hitting the pavement, or popping in that exercise DVD.
5. Know your personality type and be realistic.
There’s a fine line between pushing yourself and setting yourself up for disappointment. When you’re making your plan be honest with yourself. For me personally, I have so many things I want to accomplish in a day and never enough hours. If I hold off on my workout until the afternoon or evening, chances are other things are going to get in the way and it’s not going to happen. So I make fitness my priority and get it done as soon as I hop out of bed. That way I’m energized and ready to fight off distractions while completing the rest of the day’s tasks. Similarly, if you know you’re a night owl and aren’t fully awake until at least noon, planning to hit the gym by 7am every day may not be the best option.
It’s okay to recognize your areas of weakness and plan accordingly, and I recommend you do so! If you set realistic and attainable expectations for yourself you’ll be more likely to reach your goals, which will boost your confidence and motivation. Then when it comes time to look at those areas of weakness to see where improvements can be made, you’ll have more belief in yourself and in your ability to do so.
I hope these tips help you get started on the right foot, or even help you get back on track. There are days where it’s tough to stick to a routine, but know that everybody feels that way. Even me! There are days where I’d like to stay in the comforts of my bed and ignore everything that needs to get done, but knowing that I’m only one workout away from a great mood and a ton of energy gets me up and moving.
If you find you continually struggle with creating and sticking to a plan, chat with me! We can discuss which factors in your life may be negatively affecting your progress and where the strong points that we can expand on are.
What tricks do you have up your sleeve for staying on course during the week? Have you ever made a plan and found it difficult to stick with it?