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Seven Steps for Getting into a Workout Habit– for those who don’t work out at all…

Loving to workout, you’re kidding, right?  OK, I’ll admit it, that’s a skill that must be acquired for most of us… exercise is often more a “mind over matter” thing that something you delight it.  But that can actually change!  Today, let’s talk about learning to actually enjoy your (hopefully) daily workouts.

1. Begin with a Time Habit:

Your biggest challenge is probably taking the time out to exercise because of how crazy your life is—everything else seems to take priority, exercise has become a bonus…  even though it really isn’t!  So, even if you don’t exercise regularly yet,  start by practicing setting time aside:

~30 minutes, at least three times a week

~you aren’t allowed to use the time for anything else:

Just sit somewhere and think—don’t check your iphone, don’t put stuff away–just think about exercise!  And then ask yourself these questions: how would it be to use this time to walk? Or maybe march in place in front of the television? Go to the gym, do Pilates at home? Join a fun class?  What would I enjoy?  What would feel right?  Try to imagine yourself doing it:  How does it feel?  How do you feel once you’re done?  Are you alone or with friends?  What are you doing?  Keep playing this little game until you feel ready to move on.

2. Make the first move!

Your mind is set by now, so it is time to substitute thinking with the real thing.  Choose what you think you’ll love, whether it is exercising alone at home or outside, or going to a gym, or getting together with a girlfriend.  Hey, how about a Barb’s Fit U class? Just begin: (1) Research online (or call me) and find the right kind of DVDs to work out at home, or (2) go sign up at the gym for classes or a personal trainer, or (3) go buy a pedometer and call your friend to set up your first walk together.

Making the first gesture is super important, it is putting your actions to your mental commitment.  Don’t worry about the rest, just make the first move.

3. Start for real!

Now that you have overcome the time and mind obstacles, it is time to start.  Have fun experimenting.  Don’t worry about intensity or results, just move—any activity that gets your heart rate up and body moving is a winner. Stick with exercising three times a week at least for three weeks, no backing down!  Commit to yourself to not back down for at least three weeks.

4. Just keep going!

After three weeks, your initial habit has been established.  As you keep going now, you will begin to see some fruit: more health and energy, and you might start to love what you see in the mirror and on the scale.  Adhering to your minimum is the single most important action you can take.  There will be some great days where you exercise more, and some bad days when you just walk on the treadmill. Just don’t go below your minimum, that is your commitment to yourself.

5. Notice the Benefits

Notice how exercise makes you feel: do you feel sharper, less stressed, less tired?  Do you notice that your clothes are fitting better?  Your tummy sticks out a bit less?  The more you understand the immediate benefits, the more you will want to exercise each week.  Enjoy the changes you notice: weight loss, muscle gain, increased flexibility, increased ability to deal with stressful situations, improved posture, less stiffness, more cardiovascular ability to go up and down the stairs?  More awareness of your muscles?  Appreciation for the marvelous machine that your body is?

6. Have Goals

As you become more involves with your exercise, you might want to give yourself more specific goals, or more challenging ones than just sticking to the routine—which is really, really great!  Your goals are health and energy for now, and that is great.  What do you see in the future?  Start dreaming, and let yourself imagine what you can have.

7. Increase Intensity

Now that you have established an exercise habit with weekly minimums and you are starting to like it (!) and becoming stronger, begin to experiment with intensity: sign up for a 5K and train for it, start using different machines at the gym, work out with a trainer for a few weeks to learn new routines, work out with a more experienced friend who can guide you, try a new workout video, play with the different settings on the elliptical or treadmill, add intensity intervals to your workouts…

Remember… Your first goal was to learn to enjoy exercise and maintaining your minimum sessions per week.  How fast you run or how much you can lift doesn’t really matter if you do not stick with exercising at least three times a week.  So… congratulate yourself and keep going!


Spring Time Workouts

When the warmish weather arrives and the sun starts to shine brighter and the birds start singing, my body wakes up with nature and I experience an irresistible itch to go outside and smell the fresh air.  So I do!  It’s a great opportunity for all of us to take our workouts outside and get our sunshine fix–very needed vitamin D.  All movement counts.  If you are not a workout type person, use the outdoors spring clean-up to move some: pick up sticks, rake leaves, trim bushes, hoe your future garden, wash the car, sand and stain your porch floor, plant a tree, build a fence, you name it… those are all aerobic in nature, and lifting, chopping and digging will also increase your strength, let alone your flexibility.  It’s all good!

Walking on the treadmill just doesn’t compare to hiking, does it?  There’s something about nature that is very restorative and just does us good.

Now if you want to actually have an outdoor structured “workout,” spring time is the perfect time to start  because it’s not too hot yet and your body can adapt to the outdoor conditions slowly.  You need very little equipment, if any at all.  You can jump, squat, run, lunge up hill (cardiac hill on White Farm Road, anyone?), lunge down hill, jump rope, bunny hop across the street, do some bike riding drills, run steps, use the sidewalk to do triceps dips, use a tree to do a “tree” squat or standing push-ups, play soccer with a friend, etc. You are limited only by your own imagination.

Pretty soon, at Barb’s Fit U EMM and Boot Camp Classes, we’ll be going outside. But you don’t need me to get going, do you?

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