I can’t overstate the importance of a good fitness habit. When you get in shape, you’ll feel better and look amazing.
Imagine being able to move easier and having more energy. Better yet, think about all the confidence you’ll gain from challenging yourself to do things you thought you’d never be able to do.
Developing a fitness habit also gives you time for yourself, something that’s crucial to being there for others. Remember, you can’t take care of everyone else if you don’t take care of yourself, too.
Make Time for Yourself by Developing a Routine Tailored to You
This is by far one of the most important things that you will ever do when it comes to establishing a fitness routine.
The truth is, if you don't develop something that works well for you, you're not going to stick with it.
One of the biggest Achilles heels of any workout routine is the fact that people have a tendency to start out strong, only to start fading a few weeks in. If you're doing something you absolutely hate to do, it's not likely that you'll stay with it long enough to see any appreciable results.
Unfortunately, people have a tendency to start out with routines that are too difficult or they start doing something that they never liked in the first place, only to give up just a few weeks after they get started.
You're far more likely to continue on with your routine if you tailor things to suit you. Making time for yourself through exercise is a key component of good mental health.
Creating the Right Fitness Routine Boosts Dopamine Levels
You already know that it's important to choose something you like doing.
For example, you might tailor your fitness routine around cycling if that's an activity that you already know you enjoy.
Some people love to run so it's a good idea to design a program that's built around running. (If you hate running, you're not nearly as likely to show up at the gym everyday and give it your all if you're doing a program that’s built around running).
The beauty of this is that you can tailor a fitness program to almost anything. It doesn't matter if you like lifting weights, jumping rope or participating in dance, there's a way to make it work for you when it comes to your fitness goals.
Even better, your dopamine levels increase when you exercise regularly. Therefore, you’re more likely to feel happier.
Starting Out Small Helps You Achieve Your Goals
A lot of people make the mistake of trying to do too much far too quickly. This can make your workout feel more like torture than a fitness routine.
This discourages you to the point that you may stop working out altogether. When I was just starting out with my routine, I had some pretty lofty goals as far as the type of routine I eventually wanted to build up to.
However, I knew that I was nowhere near that fitness level at the time so I had to start with much smaller goals and work my way through them one at a time.
It started with only running on the treadmill for one or two minutes at a time, with walking in between. There was also some strength training involved and some martial arts, largely because it was a skill I could fall back on from previous years and it was something I enjoyed doing.
To be honest, I thought I would never truly reach my fitness goals of doing the intense workout that I do today. However, I stuck with it and made small changes to make the workout harder every week.
Today, I'm doing the intense workout that I always dreamed of doing and I loved every minute of it, even the hard days.
A Fitness Habit Teaches Discipline
It's easy to get frustrated when you're showing up at the gym everyday, doing your part, yet you don't really feel like you're seeing any results.
It can be frustrating but it's important to remember that as long as you keep going, you will eventually get those results.
When I first started my fitness routine, I didn't see the results I wanted, either. I was frustrated and very discouraged. That said, I kept going.
From the time that I started mostly walking to the time that I began doing an incredibly intense cardio and strength training routine, approximately three or four months passed.
I should note that it felt far longer than that. Some days, I was so frustrated that I almost felt like there was no point in exercising at all. When I look back on it, I'm very glad that I continued on, and you will be, too.
The truth is, it takes time to see results. If you're starting at a very basic level and you haven't worked out in a long time (like me), you may not see the results you're hoping for at first.
The key is to keep going, realizing that it can take several weeks for you to start noticing an appreciable difference in the way you look and feel.
Exercise builds self-discipline. That’s something you can use to your advantage in almost every other facet of your life.
Exercising Helps You Make Friends
One of the best ways to make sure you continue showing up at the gym everyday is to have someone that you're exercising with.
Having another person present can help you hold yourself accountable. Why does this work? On the days where you're really not motivated to go to the gym, you might find it easier to show up and give it your best then to explain to someone else why you're not going to be there that day.
If you're not working out with another person, it's a lot easier to make excuses about having too much to do, being overly tired, so on and so forth. Before you know it, you've made excuses for a solid week and then it becomes much more difficult to get back in the habit.
Furthermore, you've lost a lot of the progress that you've already made by not working out for several days in a row. A fitness habit can help you make new friends as you find these “workout buddies.”
You’re Practicing Self-Care
A lot of people run out of time in their day before they ever get to the gym. If you don't make it a point to dedicate time to your workout, it's easy for this to happen.
Everybody has more on their plate than they really have time for these days. That means you have to prioritize what's most important in your life.
If feeling your best is at the top of your list, then make time to work out everyday. It's okay to set aside time for yourself, as doing this will allow you to be there for those who love you. You can't be there for anyone if you feel bad all the time and you're unhealthy.
This is a positive step that you can take to ensure that you're there for both yourself and those who are close to you. If you have to set boundaries in order to find the time to get it done, that's okay.
For some people, this means dedicating a fixed time to exercise each day. For others, it works best when the time is more flexible. Personally, I’ve found that I do my best when I can tailor my time at the gym according to whatever I have going on that day.
Remember, do what works best for you.
You should always be willing to challenge yourself. It should go without saying that you should never push yourself beyond safe limits (you should also check with your doctor before beginning any exercise routine).
That said, you force yourself to get better when you push yourself. It feels good to do something you couldn’t do last week and it helps you push your fitness goals to new and exciting levels.
Some of my best workout routines have been when I forced myself beyond my perceived boundaries, only to find I was actually capable of much more than I’d previously believed.
At the end of the day, you’ll feel better physically and mentally for having done so.
Change Things Up
Doing the exact same workout every day will only succeed in making you bored. If that’s not enough to get your attention, think about this.
Your body gets used to the same exercises and stops responding as much over time. By the same token, your muscles won’t have time to heal if you’re working the same muscle groups every day.
This means they won’t develop as well. By keeping things fresh, your body changes faster and you stay more engaged mentally.
It’s a win-win situation. I do an intensive strength training and core routine every other day, with some rather intense cardio thrown in at the beginning of the workout.
My routine is built around exercising five days a week, with this routine taking up three of those days.
The other two days, I do martial arts. Even on my “off” days, I usually find time to do some stretching or a short yoga routine, largely because it makes me feel better to do so.
In the end, you can get the body you’ve always wanted and feel better than you’ve probably felt in quite some time.
It all comes down to putting in the time and the effort, even when you don’t want to. A good fitness habit lets you achieve new goals and that builds confidence. Eventually, you’ll start feeling better physically and mentally.
In fact, you’ll probably end up wondering why you didn’t decide to do this years ago.
Dan Barcelon is the editor-in-chief of the Non-Athlete Fitness blog. Dan’s blog is dedicated to the un-athletically inclined who want simple and easy fitness, nutrition, and health tips.
Twitter Handle: https://twitter.com/thenonathletes