THIS is the year where you will start working out.
(Never mind the fact that you only used your gym membership twice last year and that your yoga pants have never actually been to yoga.)
If you want to actually develop a workout habit that lasts, the first step is to stop being naive. Life happens. Things will attempt to derail you. It is how you prepare and respond that will make or break your fitness habits.
It took me years before I could develop a consistent workout habit. Now, I typically hit the gym 5-6 times a week. (Please note that fact as an attempt to loan credibility to the following advice and not as me attempting to brag.) The difference came when I learned to overcome what had derailed all previous attempts to form a serious habit in the past.
So, how do you keep your new workout habit from being derailed? Here are five tips:
As cliche as it might be, “Failing to plan means planning to fail,” is on point. A successful workout habit takes planning.
Not only should you know how many days a week and what time of day you’re going to workout, but you should always plan your workouts in advance. Whether you do that a month at a time, a week at a time, or follow a plan already made for you (classes count!), doing this ahead of time will keep you from wandering around the gym without actually doing anything, or avoiding a workout altogether.
Always have a Plan B
Even the best laid plans will be tossed out the window some days. Having a backup plan in place will keep you on track.
If I can’t make it to the gym in the morning, I grab my gym bag over lunch and go straight after work. If I wake up on a cardio day and feel like I might die if I run a mile, I know that the stationary bike is going to be my go-to. If I have to travel all day for work, I know that I’m probably not going to make it to the gym beforehand, so I’ll workout at home.
Think through scenarios that you might come up against, and have a plan in place.
Do what you like, not what you hate
There is no magical one-size-fits-all exercise, so why do what you hate? Attempting to be a runner when you’d rather be boxing or lifting is the best way to derail a habit. Yes, variety is needed in any good training plan, but it should be variety that you enjoy. Getting through a hard workout is so much better when you actually LIKE the type of exercise you’re doing.
Make home workouts accessible
Maybe you’re the type of person who works out at home regularly – that’s great. I much prefer the gear and atmosphere offered by a gym, and so I make good use of my gym membership. Yet, there are definitely times I find myself working out at home (like today when a giant snowstorm kept me from driving to the gym).
Whether you just can’t make it to the gym that day or are traveling, making home workouts accessible is key to not missing a day. For me, this means having a Pinterest board full of workouts I can do from home. I also have a mid-weight kettlebell that I keep in my apartment, and definitely suggest getting a couple of pieces of affordable gear that can expand your options at home (a jump rope or set of hand weights are two great examples).
Wear gear you genuinely like
If you hate how you look and feel in your workout gear, not only will you probably have a subpar workout, but you’re not going to feel particularly motivated to workout again. Wearing gear that you feel good in, move well in, and genuinely LIKE will have a surprisingly positive impact on your workout. My best days at the gym are typically when I feel like I’m dressed to conquer the world.
If I could develop a consistent workout habit after 18 years of failure, it’s attainable for you as well. Do what works, keep at it, crush those goals. I believe in you.