Have you wanted to get into an exercise routine but can’t seem to make something stick? Do you work out like crazy for a month and then go three months without so much as a stroll around the block? Do you exercise, but not really feel any different? If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, I can completely relate. It wasn’t until I started practicing Bikram Yoga that I found my exercise calling, so to speak. I found myself rearranging my entire day just to get to class, I picked up extra waitressing shifts to pay for the membership, and my idea of a great Friday night was arriving to the studio in time for the 5pm class! The point is, once I found that form of sweating, I was hooked and I haven’t looked back since (going on ten years later).
Up until that point though, I was lost. I liked to be active, but I was never able to quite find my exercise groove. And if I did stay consistent with something physically, it felt like a chore. I hope that by sticking to the following four ‘MUSTS’ when thinking about your exercise goals you will find something that works for you!
1. MUST FIT IN SCHEDULE
Look at your day-to-day routine, how much free time you have, and when you have that free time. Maybe the when is negotiable. Could you exercise in the mornings or evenings? Is your routine set in stone and unable to change? Recognizing not only how much time you have to give to exercise but also when that time occurs can help narrow down what sort of exercise commitment you can make.
2. MUST BE AFFORDABLE
Similarly to the schedule piece, look at your budget to determine how much money you can spend on exercise if a gym membership or class based fitness it what you prefer. If you can’t afford what you know is the best option for you, are you able to move some money around to make it happen? Maybe shop the supermarket deals a bit more frequently. Maybe cut back on eating out. Maybe even talk to the owner of the facility you want to attend. Lots of small businesses offer some sort of work/trade program. Do you have a skill set you could offer in exchange for a discounted or free membership? Stick to something that you can afford because you certainly don’t want to have to stop exercising because of money.
3. MUST SEE RESULTS
I’m not talking about weight loss or muscle tone necessarily. Depending on your goals for wanting to exercise regularly, check in with yourself to see if your current routine is meeting those goals. Personally, I could spend a year on an elliptical machine (I think I did for my entire sophomore year of college!) and I wouldn’t look or feel any different. Whatever for of exercise you’re doing should be producing positive results for you in the areas that you want to see them. If it’s not, time to switch it up.
4. MUST FUEL NOT ONLY THE BODY BUT ALSO THE MIND
Ok, this is the yogi in me coming out but it’s true! Physical exercise causes our bodies to release endorphins which make us feel GOOD. I like to think that if something is working then it’s right. If it’s not working, it’s probably not right. When you find that exercise that makes your mind feel strong, empowered, thankful, and energized, you will keep going back for more and more and more without ever having to talk yourself into it.
As we grow and change and mature, and as our needs and routines shift, our exercise preferences might transition as well. Wherever you’re at in your sweating journey, try to have your exercise meet the above criteria. Your physical and mental self will thank you!