If you’ve problems sticking to your exercise schedule, this post is ideal for you.
Exercise is good for you for many reasons—it boosts your energy, uplifts your mood, fends off weight gain, etc.
I can go on and on.
That said, here is the tricky part.
Sticking to an exercise plan for the long haul is no easy feat.
In fact, it’s one of the hardest things in the world.
And today I got you covered.
6 Ways to Help You Stick With Your Exercise Plan
Today I’m going to show you how to start exercising and establish a workout routine you’ll actually stick to.
So, are you excited?
Then here we go.
1. Start Small
The first time I took up running, I decided to run daily for an hour.
Back then, it sounded like the right thing to do.
But, boy, how was I wrong!
Although setting such a goal may sound like the healthiest thing to do, following through was a big mistake.
And I learned a valuable lesson—the bigger your goals when starting out, the more likely you’re to fail, beat yourself about it, and give up too soon.
Here is the truth:
When you do too much too soon—whether it’s running, weight lifting, yoga (yes!), you’ll end up sore, injured, or burned out—not the makings of a great start I daresay.
In fact, even you’re the most motivated person in the world, the go-hard or go-home attitude isn’t great for keeping momentum.
It’ll only lead to a crash and burn.
And that really sucks.
So, instead of shooting for the stars, think baby steps.
During the first few weeks, start with something you can do effortlessly—even if you’re severely lacking in both motivation and self-discipline.
For example, if you want to stick to your running routine, begin by jogging just for 15 to 20 minutes three days a week—it’s really that simple.
Once the “jogging habit” goes on autopilot, you can then gradually increase the length and intensity of training.
Doing so will definitely help you establish the exercise habit without hurting yourself.
2. Set Up Triggers
Most people rely on positive thinking and motivation for creating lasting habits.
That said, these standard, self-help, tools may prove insufficient—especially when it comes to sticking to an exercise routine.
For that reason, you’ll need to set up triggers.
What is it all about?
Triggers are a less-known secret to forming lasting habits—or breaking an old one.
In short, triggers are, basically, reminders—a place, time of the day, cue, etc.—that sets off an automatic reaction to perform a task or activity.
In the psychology circles, triggers are typically associated with bad habits. In fact, singling out the trigger is a crucial step in the therapy process.
For example, alcoholics have a number of triggers—stress, anger, social isolation, etc.—and whenever they experience one or a mix of these, many people with drinking problems will want to drink—regardless of future ramifications.
Good news is, triggers work very well for positive habits, too.
In fact, if you manage to set up the right trigger, you’ll be bound to follow through your habit every time such trigger is produced. You’ll be putting your new routine on autopilot.
As a result, to stick to your exercise routine, you got to set in place a workout plan and an exercise trigger.
For example, the trigger to exercise could be waking up in the morning, drinking coffee, finishing work, or anything you want.
So, every time that trigger sets off, you oblige yourself to follow throughout your workout for that day.
When the bond between the habit and trigger becomes strong, the habit will become automatic that you no longer need to force yourself to exercise anymore—and the stronger the bond, the more embedded the habit.
For my trigger, I choose drinking coffee in the morning. When I do so, I know it’s time for my workout because I have habitually trained myself o exercise immediately after my morning coffee.
Visual triggers are also ideal.
One trick I used to help me better stick with my running routine is to lay out my workout clothes next to my bed the night before a run.
This encourages me to work out and head out for a run even when I’d rather stay tucked in the comfort of the sheets.
3. Get Social
Social support can impact your commitment to stick to exercise consistently, according to research published in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine.
In fact, peering up with a buddy can help keep both of you motivated and accountable for maintaining the exercise routine.
Knowing someone is out there waiting for and relying on you to show up will definitely make you feel motivated to follow through.
It makes you less likely to abandon your exercise plan program.
So, make a date with a friend or colleague.
Just don’t choose the wrong partner. Just because someone is your best friend, it may not make them the most suitable partner. Instead, look for someone who shares your fitness level and goals.
Another option is to join a fitness group at local gyms, like Yoga, martial arts, spinning, or CrossFit.
Or, at the very least, tell at least one other person about your new exercise resolution, then ask them to keep you accountable.
4. Make The Time
When it comes down to it, I believe that lack of planning to be one of the main reasons people fail to stick to exercise for the long haul.
And as the saying goes, failing to plan is planning to fail.
As a matter of fact, you’re more likely to stick to your exercise routine if you have strategies to help you overcome obstacles.
As a result, priotorize exercise.
At the start of each month, sit down, grab a pen and a calendar, pick out the days you want to work out, then schedule them in advance.
Aim for 14 to 16 workouts for an average month.
Then, once you’re done scheduling, keep your exercise dates with yourself ironclad, and don’t let other engagements interfere.
Said otherwise, make your exercise a priority, then rearrange your life around it.
Also, have a plan B in case the unforeseen forces (think unscheduled meetings and bad weather) you to cancel your session.
5. Reward Yourself
In psychology 101, if a stimulus, such as an exercise, triggers a positive response, then you’re most likely to want to reproduce those feelings by partaking in the activity again.
When you’re having fun doing a particular type of exercise—whether it’s running, biking, yoga, you name it—you’re more likely to want to repeat that workout again. And again.
In fact, the more you reward good behavior, the more you encourage more of it.
So, if you’re serious about sticking to your exercise routine, make sure to give yourself immediate rewards when you successfully attain a new fitness goal or complete a set of planned workouts.
How? Be systematic about it.
Create a workout plan and have a reward attached to attaining a particular goal, be it running for three times a week, deadlifting 120 pounds, or losing two pounds.
Just make sure to pick something you look forward to.
Your reward doesn’t have to be expensive or extravagant. It could be something as simple as getting a new pair of jeans, going out with friends, having a hot bath, Netflixing your favorite show, etc.
6. Keep Track
To stick to your exercise habit, track your progress.
Keeping a workout journal helps you better understand your strengths and weaknesses.
A workout journal helps you to take an honest look at what you’re doing currently doing with your day.
Not only that, but it can also keep you accountable for your action as you develop your new exercise habit.
Things to keep track of include:
- Weight loss—or gained
- Numbers on the scale
- Waist circumference measurements
- Workout plan
- Exercises performed
- Workout duration
- Food intake
- Eating habits and patterns
- Hydration levels
- Before and after photos
For the full guide on how to keep a workout journal, check this post.