So, you haven’t been to the gym, or exercised outside for a while. It’s cool, we’ve all been there. Maybe you’ve been injured, or had a lifestyle change, or moved, or been crazy busy, or, maybe you’ve just been lazy and looking to get motivated again.
The key to making the gym (or any exercise generally) part of your daily life is consistency and planning. Don’t go into exercise without a plan!
Figure out your:
- Short term goals (eg: lose 5kgs by September, tone up, run 5km in an allotted time, join a sports team etc)
- Long term goals (eg: fit into a certain size by next year, try rockclimbing this year, etc)
- What you would like to focus on, for example what is your favourite type of exercise, and surround your workouts on that (eg: I love running, so I do a lot of that, but you can do so many things, walking, cycling, hiking, weight training, classes like Zumba, yoga, pilates, swimming, the possibilites are endless!)
There is no point trying to force yourself to do an exercise you really dislike. If you are new to exercise you may have to try a lot of new things, but if you’ve been here before, you probably know what you like, so the next step is: incorporating it into your routine.
Some tough love is on call here. If you have a 9-5 it can be very, very difficult fitting exercise in. So the next thing you have to figure out is easy.
- A morning person
- An evening person
Unfortunately, simply due to routine, you may have to do the one you dislike because of time pressure. I know I am going to stick to morning exercise more than evening exercise. I know it. That’s why when I am working full-time I will be going the morning route. The evening route is messy for me, getting to the gym, taking my makeup off, getting changed, ugh! It just takes too long! Whereas in the morning you can jump out of bed and onto the treadmill.
However it just depends on what works best for you. Maybe you’re a shift worker. Maybe you’re a Uni student, or a mum whose only free time happens when dad gets home. Consider when is the best time to exercise for you and give yourself that break.
Reposition Exercise in your Mind
Exercise is not a chore or something to be feared. It clears your head, assists positive thinking and can give us some much needed ‘me’ time, and that is exactly what it is. It’s time to work on yourself, internally and externally. It’s time to get away from negative forces and work on your determination. It can improve not only your body and mind but can influence other parts of your life, as you become more aware of how possible everything is to achieve.
Tap into your own nature, do races or marathons if you like, or simply do it for fun. Do it alone, or with a group. It simply depends on which way YOU like it! Don’t feel pressured or influenced by the way other people do it if it’s not for you!
Some more advice for starting or restarting exercise:
- Don’t compare yourself to others. It is useless. Compare yourself to yourself. How fit are you now? How fit would you like to be in a year? Look at inspiration if you like but do not use genetically blessed individuals as the be-all and end-all of what you ‘should’ look like.
- Read read read. Read about form, watch form videos on youtube, read about how people have taken the next step in the fitness area you’d like to improve on. Make fitness and health a passion of yours.
- Set your goals as achievable. Hey it’s great you could run 10km ten years ago, however, what can you do now? Don’t push yourself too hard straight off the block, the long-term injury possibility is not worth it. Work your way back up slowly.
- Figure out your niggles. We’ve all got them. My troublesome area is my lower back. I never, ever do crunches, it’s pointless when you can work your abs in other ways, if you’ve got injury-prone areas work with them, not against them, and never think ‘oh they’ll be fine’ – they probably won’t be. Any area can be worked around in a different way. Don’t push your niggles!
- Balance your eating! You may have to eat more or less depending on how much exercise you are doing and what your goals are (weight loss, weight gain, muscle gain, endurance etc). Don’t be scared to experiment and keep track of what works and what doesn’t, that’s half the fun!
Another important fact of repositioning exercise is remember how fun it used to be. When I was in primary school I loved running and would often place 1st, 2nd or 3rd in races. However by the time I hit high school I hated the forced, mechanical, boring aspect of it and completely went off it. I remember vividly how my old PE teacher said to me though “You’ll love it again one day” – how right she was. Maybe she could see through my sullen teenage facade.
Learning to truly enjoy exercise and look forward to it will help you reap the many benefits it will give you throughout your life!