Last spring, I started asking new newsletter subscribers to share their biggest fitness and nutrition challenges with me.
(Thanks to all of you who’ve responded; it’s been wonderful to get your emails and to have actual conversations with so many like-minded women; the life of a blogger can sometimes be a bit isolating. Not a new newsletter subscriber? Feel free to share your ‘pain points’ in the comments section at the bottom of the page. And you can always, you know, subscribe 😉 ).
One of the most common responses I’ve had to date has been about the challenge of becoming more consistent with exercise. Here’s a sample;
Consistency. Some weeks I am great with exercise…and then I fall off the wagon and don’t work out…!!!
Number one thing I struggle with; consistency. I work out for four days, quit for two weeks, and back again. I know I need to develop a real routine…
Biggest struggle is getting my head back in the game…once I fall off the wagon.
You’ve probably experienced the same challenge at some point in your fitness career; post-holiday, post-injury, post-baby… I certainly have.
As a fitness coach, I often share my strategies for improving exercise consistency with my clients; after all, without consistency and progression to your program, you’re unlikely to ever reach your fitness goals.
How to become more consistent with exercise
- Create a schedule. Take a look at your calendar. Identify two or three chunks of free time in your week. Write the word ‘Exercise’ in pen. Treat this appointment with yourself the same way you treat your appointments with your doctor, dentist and manicurist. You may think I’m trying to be funny. I’m not. Scheduling works. Commit to it for an entire month.
- Set yourself up for success. Many people undermine their attempts to make regular exercise a priority. They choose activities that they don’t really like. They plan to work out alone even though they require accountability and support. They schedule early morning workouts despite their night owl tendencies. They have unrealistic expectations about how quickly they’re likely to see results. Spend a little time reflecting on what you truly need to successfully stick with your plan. Make sure all the components are in place before you step into the gym (or pool or the spinning studio etc.). Need a little more help with this? Check out the free download below; “5 Steps to Exercise Success”.
- Anticipate obstacles. The road to consistency is never smooth. Obstacles and road blocks will always be present. The key is to anticipate them and have a back-up plan ready to implement. For example, kids get sick and somebody has to stay home with them. If that somebody is you, how will you make up your missed workout? Can you do something else at home? An exercise DVD? A short, body-weight workout? Is there a ‘flex’ day in your schedule for playing ‘catch up’ later in the week?
- Celebrate small victories. Most humans respond well to rewards 🙂 . Keep your motivation up by regularly reflecting on what you’ve done well and treating yourself to something small and enjoyable. A new headband to keep your hair off your face during workouts. A box of your favourite specialty tea bags. That Kindle title you’ve been dying to read. Or even a simple gold star on your workout calendar. Celebrating small victories takes your mind off the bigger victories that are still off in the distance (and reminds you that you’re making progress, no matter how small).
- Remind yourself of how hard it is to start all over again. Most of us also try to avoid punishment. Tap into your psyche and remind yourself how difficult it is to get back to exercise after a hiatus. Not just physically, but also psychologically. Our bodies struggle with things they once did with ease. We have to lower the weights, take longer breaks between sets and huff and puff through our step class or run. Maintaining a positive mindset about exercise becomes more difficult with every repetition of the ‘start and stop’ cycle.
Remember that consistency doesn’t happen overnight or without real effort. But once you get there, exercise becomes infinitely easier (at least until you up your weights or your trainer adds burpees to your program 😉 ).
Do you struggle with exercise consistency?
What strategies have you implemented to become more consistent with exercise?