Who has two sparkle-heart dumbbells and says that your journey into Fit-Fabuary can start right now? This girl, that’s who! You don’t need the eve of a new year, or the dawn of a new day to get back on track. The harsh truth is that the vast majority of those of us who kick off the New Year with a strong resolve to get fit throw in the towel by ‘all hearts’ day. The good news? You’re a powerful and capable individual, not a trend.
Whatever exercise medium you prefer: walking, jogging, power-lifting, paddle-boarding, or equestrian yoga (yes, that’s real!), making exercise a regular part of your routine is important and possible. All you need is a heaping helping of resolve, and some ideas about how to step up your game. Below I’ve shared 3 tips to help you successfully get started on the next leg of your fitness journey.
Take the 10 Minute Challenge
If you’ve never exercised, or haven’t exercised in a long while, making exercise part of your busy life can seem overwhelming. Remember that some exercise is better than none. Give yourself permission to make small changes to fit more activity into your life. The more gradual your approach, the less likely you will be to completely jump ship. Your mission is to make 10 minutes for exercise today. Try to fit in 10 minutes of activity 3 to 4 days this week. Once you’ve established this as a habit, add another 10 minutes of activity into each of your exercise days. You could see this as a 20 minute workout, or two 10 minute spurts of activity. This is exactly how my wellness journey began.
Do you work out all the time? This paragraph is for you. Your challenge is to ‘upgrade’ your current regimen, with 10 minutes of something you don’t typically do. Here are some good questions to ask yourself to uncover an area or your routine that could use some attention.
- Do you perform a dynamic warmup that mimics the motions you will be utilizing in your workout?
- How about a cool down that includes stretching and foam rolling?
- Do you make time for corrective work to target specific muscles that may be weak?
- Do you know if you squat and lunge correctly?
All of these things contribute to balanced strength, increased mobility, better recovery time, and reduce your risk of injury.
Grow Your Workout Palate
Staying in motion doesn’t have to be boring. Just like the taste buds on your tongue, your workout taste buds need and crave variety. Your body and your mind both benefit when you try new things. Having an appetite for different types of workouts can serve you well in the middle of a busy week, too. Can’t make the 5pm Yoga class with Cheryl? Go for a run! Pouring cheetahs and dingos outside? Hit the gym and lift! Hate going the gym on free pizza night? Why not try that kickboxing place Kyle has been raving about!
As you grow your workout palate, give each form of exercise you try an opportunity to be its own delicious experience. I like to run 5k to 10k, do various forms of weighted strength training, practice yoga, and do HIIT and Tabata-style workouts. I don’t sweat the same amount doing strength training that I do with a HIIT workout, and I don’t get my heart rate as high doing yoga as I do during an interval run. Each of these forms of exercise has a purposeful place on my workout palate.
Just like with food, sometimes I have a workout ‘craving’, and use it as a means to deal with the difficult parts of life. Running has long been my go-to when I need to process something. Strength training with dumbbells and machines makes me feel powerful and accomplished. Boxing bags and slam balls can be a great outlet for anger, and for me, yoga has been a good way to teach myself how to take programmed mental and physical rest.
Celebrate Your Fabulous Self
At a time when I was riddled with self-doubt and dislike, I learned to use working out as a way to channel my feelings of frustration and aggression into my workouts. While my workouts offered some distraction from my unhappiness, I found that this negative motivation left me feeling that none of my workout efforts were ever good enough. I never lived up to my expectations, and so I never felt truly accomplished no matter how much I did. It took years for me to realize that shifting the dial from negative to positive was not only something within my control, but that shifting it would actually make my workouts more productive and more frequent.
Learning to celebrate yourself means that you have to give yourself mad props! Celebrating our victories is an essential element of healthy growth and continued success. By giving yourself a congratulatory mental high-five at the end of your sweat session, you are building a positive association with the act of working out. The more positive associations you make with a particular behavior, the more likely you are to repeat it.
To really celebrate yourself, you have to feel fabulous. And yes, I mean “FAB-ulous!” To blossom into this feeling of fabulousness, you need to cultivate self-love and self-confidence. These two are brothers…the close, ‘call each other daily’ type of brothers. Maybe self-love seems like too strong of a word for you right now. I totally feel you, I’ve been there. If you’re feeling a bit commitment-shy, your goal for the moment is to fall in self-like. Love should never feel forced, and ‘like’, if nurtured properly can bud and blossom into ‘true love’.
Smell Your Roses
I see my life like a perpetual relay race, where I pass the baton to a me that is more ready to take on the next leg of the race. There will always be a new horizon to run to. Having something greater to aspire to gives me the opportunity to rise to the occasion and grow. The baton being passed is really just my recognition of my growth. I don’t want to run my race so fast that I miss all the beauty along the way. I want to take time not only to ‘stop and smell the roses’, but to really breathe in and appreciate their fragrance.
Wherever you’re at in your journey right now, take pride in the fact that you are pressing forward to become the best version of yourself. Keep in mind that a fast pace is not always a memorable pace. Make sure you stop to smell and savor your roses. While you’re at it, capture their beauty in a picture that you can look back on during a time when roses don’t seem to be so plentiful along your path. With patience and persistence, you’ll become fit and fabulous for life.