By Nina Nelson, Contributing Writer
I used to hate folding laundry. I had no problems washing it and throwing it in the dryer, or even hanging it outside when the weather was fine. But folding it and putting it away? No thanks.
But one day, I decided that every time the dryer was done, I’d take items out one-by-one, fold them and put them in my basket. It was super simple and they didn’t get stuck on my couch or bed for hours (or days) at a time. I kept on, and soon found that it felt weird not to fold my clothes immediately. And then, one day a few months later, something happened.
I realized I’d created a habit that I now actually enjoy.
What does folding the laundry have to do with fitness? Not much. But the fact that I created a new habit has everything to do with physical activity because that’s also how I made fitness a must-have in my life.
If you need help making fitness a habit that sticks, read on for 7 helpful tips that’ll help you keep it super simple.
1. Think movement, not exercise
This simple shift in my mindset revolutionized fitness for me. Before, it was all about fitting in time to workout — which often was pushed way to the bottom of my list. Now, rather than dreading workouts, I make it a game of seeing how much I can move my body each day.
Now I walk, hike and do yoga. Sometimes I dance around with the kids or we play tag. These are all enjoyable and get me moving.
The key is to get used to moving your body and enjoying it. You don’t have to feel physically exhausted to get fit.
2. Track progress
I’m one of those people who loves to track their progress because I find it encouraging. I don’t keep spreadsheets or anything, but I do take note of certain things:
- Steps: I’m slightly obsessed with my Fitbit pedometer. In a good way, I promise. I used to spend way too much time on my rear, but now I check my pedometer periodically throughout the day and use it as motivation to go on a walk or get off the computer so I can hit my goal of 10,000 steps each day.
- Goals: I love goals and have certain ones set when it comes to my fitness level like being able to do 10 pushups, touching my toes and fitting into my lonely smaller jeans.
3. Have options
Do you ever get bored doing the same thing over and over again? Yeah, me too. One problem I’ve run into with fitness is that I’ll start doing a video and love it for the first week or so and when I think about doing it again the next week, I have no desire to.
That’s why it’s good to have options.
So don’t just pick one workout video or one activity and call it good. Make a list of things you like to do and keep it handy for those days when options A,B,C and D don’t sound appealing.
4. Start small
I’m one of those all or nothing people who likes to go from not being active at all to trying to workout 6 days a week. Guess what? It never works. Instead, I’ve found that by choosing one small, simple goal, like walking each day, and focusing on it for 30 days, I’m much more likely to succeed.
As tempting as it is to want to do it all, resist. Once you’ve created that one simple habit, you can build on it, or work on building a new habit.
5. Pick enjoyable activities
The chances of sticking to something, no matter how awesome the program is, are dismal if you can’t stand it. [Tweet “Being active should be fun.”] Or at the very least, not something you dread.
Choose activities you love.
6. Get a buddy
As an introvert, I love my alone time. Love it. But sometimes I crave time with people. Like when I exercise. If the thought of working out or even taking a walk by yourself sounds lame, invite a friend. Not only do you have that fellowship, but I also find I’m more likely to push myself when someone else is there.
Also, consider exercising with your spouse. It can be a lot of fun and is another great way to spend more time together.
7. Bust excuses
If you’re anything like me, it’s really easy to make excuses to avoid physical activity. But it’s got to stop if you want to make it a priority. These are my top 3 excuses and how I bust them before I can use them:
- Money: I’ve had numerous gym memberships. They usually did nothing more than drain my pocket book. Exercise now consists of yoga, walking, YouTube videos and the (very) occasional jog. I usually use my own body weight, but I also have a yoga mat and kettlebell. That’s it. I even workout barefoot most of the time. Fancy clothing and equipment just isn’t necessary.
- Time: My husband is a paramedic with a weird schedule and we home school. So I often don’t have time to leave the house to workout. Instead, I choose shorter, more impactful routine — like my no-excuses, 15-minute workout. When I do yoga, I opt for a faster-paced Vinyasa flow that gets my heart rate up and builds strength.
- Kids: With four kids, it’s easy to let them be an excuse. But. They don’t have to be. Sometimes, I let them workout with me. Others, I’ll get up early and exercise with a quick video. And, of course, I’m grateful for my husband’s days off when he tells me to get out of the house and go to a yoga class.
I realize that these are all simple suggestions. And that’s what a healthy, active life should be: simple. It just takes the decision to do it and the determination to persevere and create those new habits.
Do you have any suggestions for making fitness a habit that sticks?
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