How to create (and maintain!) a fitness routine that suits your lifestyle

Understand the areas of your body you want to target to improve. What is the area you want to focus on improving? Are you looking to bulk up the muscles? Trying to get a little leaner? Want to be a little more flexible? Want to focus on your midsection, or legs, or arms and shoulders? Or do you just want a plain old full-body workout? Once you know what your fitness goals are, this will help you identify what types of exercises you should do.

Acknowledge how much exercise you can fit into your schedule that provides actual results for you. As Rebekka mentioned in last week’s tip, an ideal schedule is 3 times a week for 20-30 minutes. However, depending on where you’re at in this fitness thing and what your schedule looks like, you may elect to do more or less; it varies from person to person. Does your schedule allow you to do a little bit every day? Or would you prefer longer workouts with less frequency? Pick something that works for your schedule, and COMMIT to that. Just make sure you’re committing to something that will actually produce results for you.

Figure out what types of exercises would be most enjoyable to you.  There are SO many different kinds of exercises out there. Some people like to exercise solo, while others prefer a buddy. Some need a structured class. Some people want a group format, others one-on-one instruction. Some people don’t want to break too much of a sweat. Some people want to hurt at the end of their workouts. Some people want high intensity, others may want some breaks in between. Some people want there to be a competitive component to their workout. Find out what works best for you and go for it!

Don’t go all out on week one. One thing I see many people do is they make a commitment and go crazy from the start. This, in my opinion, is a GREAT way to NOT sustain the routine. This is something you should gradually build upon – start simple, and once you accomplish that initial goal comfortably, up the ante. And keep on building until you get to your desired fitness level and then go into maintenance mode. And of course, any time you start to feel bored, switch it up! You don’t need to have a monotonous system, and you can always come back to a type of workout after taking a little breather.

Take occasional breaks. Sometimes, your body needs to recuperate. Taking a 1 week break every 8 weeks or so is great for your body to heal as you’ve been breaking it down during exercise. It may sound counteractive, but I’ve done this every so often and it DEFINITELY has been helpful for me. The biggest challenge with this, however, is not letting the break turn into a longer-term one.

Figure out how to hold yourself accountable. How are you going to make sure you keep up with this once you get going? Find an accountability partner. Hire a coach or trainer who is going to make sure you stay on track. Sign up for a fitness event that you can work toward (such as a race, or other competition, or even a performance!). Whatever you need to do to keep you moving, do it!

The Cheerful Mind