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Exercise Tips: How To Become and Stay a Consistent Exerciser

Posted Feb 20 2011 1:30am

Since I have been a consistent exerciser for quite some years, with it’s inevitable highs and lows, I consider myself a good resource for workout tips. Not just because I like working out or am so damn good at it, but because I too get into ruts, slumps, or exercise burnouts. And I symphatize with those who experience the same. There’s probably only a handful of people on this planet that workout regularly without ever going through a face of prefering the couch over a good sweat session. Even Olympic athletes and professional marathoners have admit to this, which I love. Why? Because if we stop being so hard on ourselves and so goddamn perfectionistic and accept and respect the fact that we will face exercise hurdles, it is all that much easier to tackle them!

Last time we talked about exercise motivation. Motivation is imperative both when making the first steps towards exercise, and just about every day that comes after that. But. Exercise isn’t all about motivation. You can have all the motivation in the world but still not make it to the gym due to poor planning. Or you can have all the motivation in the world, and see that same motivation vanish in front of your eyes the next day.

Therefore, at least as important as motivation, is consistency. It’s great if you love exercising, have fallen in love with a new class, or have just begun, now let’s just ensure that you’ll be in it for the long run.

If you want to call yourself an exerciser, workouts should be part of your routine. For some this means planning workouts ahead, for others it may mean having a set schedule week after week, while again others don’t adhere to a planning but make sure they get in their xxx workouts a week no matter what. But having exercise as an option somewhere in the back of your head, or something that you’ll get around to -after grocery shopping, drinking coffee with a friend and seeing a movie- does not make you an exerciser.

I admit it can be very easy to put exercise on the backburner, everyone slips into it from time to time (please tell me I’m not the only one?!). But important is to keep these phases to a minimum and break out of it before you break your exercise momentum or routine. Or maybe you’ve never really managed to get into an actual, long-term routine. Here are the things that I have found worked well for me:

1. JUST DO IT
This is the best tip I can give anyone about exercising. You don’t always have to be motivated or in the mood for a workout. You don’t always need to do the exact workout you’d planned if you run short on time. Just do it, Nike really has a point here. Whenever I don’t feel like working out, I get this huge debate going on in my head. One side is telling me to go, the other side is convinsincg me not to go, bribe me with all sorts of incentives (coffee and a book? working on school (yes anything to not have to workout, and when I don’t want to work for school, my mind tries to bribe me with exercise)? watching tv?) and I get tired of myself, tired of having to make a decision. So I don’t. I just do it. It was in the planning, there’s no life threatening situation calling for my attention, the only thing standing in the way is my mind. Just act like it is not open for discussion, and just do it.

2. No Time? No Excuse!
Four out of the last 5 presidents were runners. If they had the time, so do you.

It’s not about working out for an hour and a half 6 days a week. It’s about finding some time, most days of the week, to move your butt. Is it really that impossible to get up half an hour early for a leisurely jog? Would it be that terrible to take your boyfriend/dog/brother/mom for a run or powerwalk one evening a week instead of watching a movie? If you would give it some thought, I bet you could find lots of opportunities to fit some form of exercise in, anytime of the day.

It’s also about getting creative here: instead of cycling that 10-15 minutes to the shops or a friend, walk! Instead of sitting for hours on end studying, take a 10 minute workout break every 50 minutes (bonus points for keeping your concentration up!). Instead of sitting down for two hours while watching a movie, spend the first 15 minutes doing some core work. You get my drift.

Bonus tip: dry shampoo! If you have (semi) long hair like me and don’t have the time to wash your hair after every workout (who does?!), buy dry shampoo. You simply spray this in your hair and brush it through. Your hair will smell amazing and greasiness vanishes in seconds. It removes excess oil and tames frizz. I really love this stuff, it enables me to workout any time of the day and just take a quick shower afterwards, instead of an elaborate bathing session + hair styling session.

(my brand)

3. Help Yourself
To get exercise to be a part of your life, you have to help yourself create that routine in other ways than just working out. Not only the workout, but everything that encompasses it have to be a part of your routine, have to become a no-brainer. Make sure your gym bag is always ready to go (card?check.shampoo?check.towel?check.earplugs?check.). I have a showergel and deodorant specifically for my gym bag, I don’t take them out afterwards. This only causes extra time spending on packing and thinking about things that should require little time because it’s a routine, like brushing your teeth!

Having a set time to workout also helps for some: if you have long busy days, make sure you get your exercise in before you’ll get too tired and busy. What helps for me is convenience, a good example of this is picking a gym that is next door to my school. Find a gym that is close by either work, school or your front door, or if you plan on running/cycling/skating, make sure the area where you plan on doing this is easy to reach. If none of this is an option, consider creating your own home gym with dvd’s, weights, a ball, etc. I wrote an extensive post about home-gyms here .

Another way to help yourself is to plan your workout the day/evening before. If you are planning on doing weights at the gym or strength training at home, write out the exercises, reps, sets, weights, etc. Check if your iPod has the right music. Plan a workout so you have time for a shower and a snack afterwards. Lay out your clothing the night before. If you plan on working out later in the day (not at the gym), set an alarm, and when your alarm goes, GO! No ifs, ands or buts!

All of this will help you become exercise and everything around it a part of your life.

What are your tips to incorporate regular, consistent exercise into busy lifestyles?

Love,

Sabine

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