We see you out there. You’re motivated to begin a new workout routine and you want to get started right away. Or maybe you’ve been there before: you jumped into an ambitious new routine, only to end up hating it, getting injured, or just plain burnt out.
Sound familiar? Don’t be too hard on yourself – it’s easy to get swept up in sexy, exciting new classes, or be motivated by a certain goal. And kudos to you for going for it! Still, it would be nice to break that common cycle of going in and out of shape.
For changes that last, it is helpful to ask yourself a few questions as you start or grow your workout routine. Consider what’s realistic for you, in terms of your lifestyle, goals, and starting point. These questions can help you get started.
1.) What is right for your lifestyle and stress level?
Everybody has a different physiology and lifestyle. One of your friends may have an injury-free body, live amongst scenic walking trails, and have plenty of spare solo time…. and therefore be in a much better situation to tackle half-marathon training than you are. Or maybe hypothyroidism is making you sluggish and resistant to exercise. Do you have the sheer willpower to force yourself to a high-energy class five times a week?
But don’t get discouraged! Simply give yourself permission to pick an activity and schedule you actually see yourself doing, and not just what you think you should be doing. Pursue a path that seems like a doable extension of your current way of life. You will be able to stick to it better and see more results than you ever would from a more glamorous workout only done a few times.
2.) How is your mobility?
Most people consider themselves flexible or inflexible and leave it at that. Very rarely do we actually take a closer head-to-toe look at our own mobility. When we’re thinking of taut muscles, lean stomachs, or improving our lifestyles, it’s easy to forget all about range of motion.
To stay comfortable and injury-free, your current degree of mobility determines where you should start your workout routine. Ignoring what you can and can’t do is setting yourself up for pain, injury, and falling off the wagon.
No matter what your body goals are, remember: you can’t strengthen it if you can’t move it. You need to preserve muscle mass to maintain a healthy weight and quality of life. Boosting your mobility supports these goals, so be sure to incorporate some breathwork and a mobility practice into your new routine. These shoulder stretches can get you started.
3.) Do you enjoy it?
There are different types of exercise you should do – low-intensity cardio, high-intensity cardio, strength training, mobility and breathwork – but there are many, many ways to hit all your bases.
If there’s an activity you just absolutely hate (running comes to mind for many people) then look for alternatives. From low-intensity morning walks outside, to dancing, to paddling, to biking, to the myriad types of yoga, there is an activity in every category to suit everyone.
It can be hard to imagine yourself as someone who enjoys exercise. But if exercise brings to mind a bleak, windowless gym or sweating it out for long hours, no wonder! Expand your idea of what exercise looks like. Remember that consistent movement is better for you in the long run than bursts of activity in an otherwise sedentary life.
Lastly, we leave you with a quote to ponder as you envision your new habits:
"Exercise is a human invention used to compensate for the fact that we're not doing what we're supposed to be doing." - Dr. Andreo Spina
Be kind to yourself and remember, today's highly civilized society stifles our natural instincts. As you embark on your new workout routine, be mindful, listen to your body, and focus on your own individual needs.