10 Tips for Starting a Workout Routine and Sticking to It

by Auriel

Raise your hand if you made a resolution to get fit this year? Raise your hand if you fell off the wagon a bit since January 1st?

Me too! It can be really challenging to start a new workout routine.  And once you start it’s even harder to stick with it and make it a long-term habit.

But once you get over the hump and really settle into a consistent workout routine, you’ll feel amazing!  Working out is truly a life changing practice that can positively affect every aspect of life–physical, mental, and emotional. Whenever I workout, my mood is instantly lifted and I feel ready to take on the world.  That’s a feeling everyone should experience!

Spring is upon us and it’s absolutely not too late to get back on the wagon and start working out.  If you’ve never really worked out before or have been on a little hiatus, now is the time to get your fitness journey started.  

Get back on track to achieving your fitness goals with these 10 tips for starting a workout routine and sticking to it.

1. Find Your Why

Working is as much mental as it is physical. That’s why it’s so important to identify your why. Why do you want to work out in the first place?  Is it to feel more confident? To feel stronger? To have more energy? To get healthier? To compete?

Once you’ve found your reason, dig deeper.  You want to be healthier…why? You want to lose weight…why?  Drill down as far as you can to find that driving force that will sustain you through tough workouts and on days when you don’t want to get up off the couch. Everyone’s why is going to be different, and it may change overtime.  Once you find yours write it down, post it where you can see it and use it as a daily motivator.

2. Love Yourself Now

When we start working out we usually have an end in mind. But don’t get so caught up on the end goal that you forget to be kind and gentle to yourself throughout the process. We say things like “I’ll be so much happier when I…” Lose the weight, have a six pack, can fit into my old jeans, fill in the blank.  

Change this mindset! Think of working out as an act of self-care, something you do for you. It’s prioritizing yourself, your health and your overall wellbeing.  Don’t make your self-love conditional, or based on you achieving that set goal you have in mind. This type of motivation doesn’t last especially when results aren’t coming as fast as you expected.  No matter where you’re starting, your size, your shape, or your ability, focus on loving yourself and enjoying the journey.

3. Set Short Term Goals

Sometimes getting to our ideal fitness level can seem like an impossible task.  Setting goals is extremely important for almost anything you want to accomplish in life.  But focusing on long term fitness goals like running a marathon or losing 50 lbs is overwhelming. Instead, set small, achievable goals that will keep you motivated and show off your progress. They should be measurable (something that you can track), relevant and attainable.

Here are a few examples:

  • Work out 3 days a week for 30 minutes.
  • Run a mile without stopping.
  • Lose one inch from your waist.

Consider where you are currently in your fitness journey and where you want to be.  Achieving your smaller goals will encourage you to keeping going and get you closer to your bigger goals in a much more manageable way.

4. Start Slow

If you’re just starting out or getting back into the swing of things, please don’t try to push yourself to the limit on the first day.  Not only can this cause an injury, but you’ll burnout quickly. I’m guilty of starting out a little too ambitious, getting injured and having to recover for days or even weeks. It’s much harder to bounce back and you don’t want to get discouraged before you’ve even begun.  Slow and steady really does win the race!  

This goes hand in hand with setting attainable goals.  In the beginning your priority is to make your workouts sustainable so that it becomes a lifelong habit.  There’s nothing wrong with challenging yourself, but don’t over do it. Be gentle with yourself.  You know what you can manage. Start small and work your way up by gradually increasing intensity and time.

5. Set Your Own Schedule

One of the most important ways to make working out a habit is to create a manageable schedule and stay consistent. Most people are not able to devote 7 days a week to working out. (That’s really not healthy anyway!) Your schedule is going to depend on your lifestyle, how much time you have to devote, and when.  It also depends on your goals. If you’re looking to see major results, one day a week isn’t gonna cut it. The more time you spend exercising the faster you’ll start seeing results.

If you can only workout once or twice during the week, plan to go hard on the weekend. Spend extra time on the days you have it to spare. If you can only get a few moments of free time throughout the day, do shorter sessions but more of them. Create a schedule that you can commit to and make it a priority.

6. Choose a Workout You Love

If you want to make fitness a habit you have to find an activity you enjoy!  Something that gets you excited and makes you forget that you’re actually exercising. When it comes to working out there’s literally something for everyone:

Running, weight lifting, crossfit, yoga, swimming, kickboxing, pilates, cycling, dance, HIIT, bootcamp classes, sports teams, at- home workouts, hiking, and more.

Nowadays there’s so many options for you to choose from. Don’t be afraid to experiment.  Sites like Groupon and Living Social are great for exploring different types of workouts at a discount.  And many gyms and studios have introductory rates that allow you to get your feet wet without fully committing. And guess what…you don’t have to choose just one! Keep your workouts fresh by rotating different types of workouts. This will keep you going and prevent boredom and burnout. Right now I do a combination of weight lifting, yoga, and Body Combat classes. I love having different options to choose from depending on my mood.

7. Have a Few At-Home Workout Options

It’s always nice to get out to the gym or yoga studio, but it’s also nice to have the option to get a quick workout in at home.  Let’s be honest, sometimes you just don’t feel like leaving the house. Am I right? Nothing wrong with that, but instead of letting this throw off your schedule, have some at home exercise options ready for these occasions.  No more excuses!

Investing in some small workout equipment like dumbbells or resistance bands or even a yoga mat will allow you to get a great workout from your living room.  Youtube has a huge selection of free workout videos that you can do from anywhere–at home, on a trip, etc. No matter what kind of workout you’re into, you’ll find it there.  You can check out my list of the best free yoga Youtube channels here!

8. Forget the Scale

I used to be obsessed with the scale, nervously weighing myself every morning hoping for a certain number.  Now I only step on the scale a few times a year. Why? Because a scale isn’t always the best way to measure your fitness progress.

One thing to keep in mind is that muscle weighs more than fat.  So as you start working out your body is both losing fat and gaining muscle at the same time.  Because of this your weight may not change drastically, especially over a short period of time. Seeing that may be discouraging.  But that doesn’t mean your body isn’t changing for the better. The scale doesn’t tell you things like body fat percentage, muscle mass, strength, stamina, and other important measures of physical fitness.

I know that losing weight is the goal for many.  Instead of weighing yourself everyday and seeing small fluctuations, try limiting to once a week or every two weeks.  Then you’ll have a better idea of the progress you’ve made. Another way to track your improvements is by taking measurements and monitoring your inches. Or take a full body picture once a months and see how your body is changing overtime.

9. Don’t Go It Alone

Share your goals and progress with the people around you. Or even better, find yourself a workout partner.  A recent study conducted at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine found that exercising with a partner improves weight-loss results.  Having someone else to workout with is a really effective way to stay motivated and hold yourself accountable.

Attending a group fitness class or going to a fitness-related Meetup is also a fun way to socialize with like-minded people. You can’t help but feed off the energy and camaraderie of group classes and they’re great for making new friends.

10. Be Patient

We all love instant gratification. Unfortunately, it takes time to see the transformation.  But being healthy and feeling good is so worth the time and effort you put in. Enjoy the journey and celebrate the small wins along the way.  Focus more on physical changes than visual changes. Instead of looking for that six-pack in the mirror, acknowledge how much stronger your core is and how many more crunches you can do now compared to when you started.  Be patient and don’t give up. If you stay focused, consistent, and put in the work, you’ll see results.

Working out doesn’t have to be scary or hard or even boring.  Once you get started it can actually be, dear I say, fun! It’s a great way to relieve stress, get healthier, and feel amazing all at the same time.  I hope you found these tips helpful and are ready to get out there and start your workout routine.

What has helped you develop a consistent workout routine?

start a workout routine

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