We all have big dreams to start exercise programs, stick with them and come out the other side with perfectly toned bodies that are ready for the beach, runway or both. In the beginning, we are so filled up with motivation that nothing can dampen our spirit. However, a day or two goes by, and we realise that our goals seem too far out of reach, or we are feeling sore and can’t keep up with the high benchmark we set. There are many reasons as to why we can fall off the bandwagon a long way short of the finish line when it comes to exercise programs, and this only leads us to feel less motivated to start one in the future. However, don’t let these past experiences stop you from starting an exercise program and sticking with it. Usually, adjusting one or two small things or changing your starting approach to these programs can make all the difference in ensuring you finish them, and that is what I’d like to share with you today. No more starting exercise programs and then bailing because you set your sights too high or got tired and bored. No – today, I would like to share with you twelve tips and tricks to starting and sticking with an exercise program. I hope that once you discover these tricks, you will no longer think that your summer body is an impossible dream, and with a few adjustments to your approach, you’ll see it’s actually a lot closer than you might think. I hope you enjoy it!
Set yourself goals
This is the first step to success – setting yourself goals. Goals are a great way to keep you motivated and on track to sticking with and finishing your exercise program. They are a way for you to fuel your ambition and propel you forward. Often having a goal written down, setting yourself something you want to achieve by a set date, gives you something to plan and work for and then once you get there, something to celebrate. So, set yourself a few goals that you want to achieve during your exercise program, both little ones and considerable milestones. Once you have that in place, you will be able to create a plan about how to achieve those goals. It is hard to get the method right when you don’t know what you want the results to be – so set out the results you want. That way, you will be able to create a game plan of how to achieve them but also track your progress as you move from the starting line to the finish line.
Have reasonable expectations
Okay, this is a big one, and I cannot stress it enough. As much as it is great to have an ambitious goal of wanting to lose weight or perform some significant athletic feat, you need to have reasonable expectations. Now I am not saying that you need to abandon your goals, but you need to think practically about the process. You can’t expect the process to be easy, or that you won’t feel muscle stiffness or some form of soreness. If you don’t have reasonable expectations about the process and how everything will come about, then you are setting yourself up for failure and disappointment when things aren’t going accordingly to your optimistic expectations. My point is, simply that there is no harm in dreaming big. Just have realistic expectations when it comes to implementing your plan to achieve that dream.
Don’t start too big
Another thing that is crucial to remember is not to let your unbridled enthusiasm take too much control. While energy at the beginning of a program is essential, it can sometimes lead us to bite off more than we can chew in the beginning. This can then set the benchmark too high, be unrealistic to maintain or simply make us tired and sore far sooner or faster than was necessary. The trick to starting an exercise program, especially if you aren’t already in relatively good shape, is to start small. If your goal is to be able to run 10km, don’t start by running 10km on the first day. Start with 2km and work your way up. By starting small, you don’t squish your optimism or your energy, and you will actually find that it will lead to you getting in much better, sustainable shape.
Break it down
On the topic of starting small and working up towards your big goal, you need to think about breaking things down. You should have already set your goal of what you want to achieve and are probably thinking about your plan of action. Well, the key to success in any plan of action is to break the stages down into manageable chunks so that you don’t overwhelm yourself and make it more tempting to quit. The saying Rome wasn’t built in a day is not used at every opportunity possible because of its nod to a beautiful Italian city. It speaks towards this concept of breaking things down and working towards your goal one step at a time rather than trying to take a leap and winding up short of the finish line with lacklustre results. By breaking your actions and plan down into manageable chunks, you are ensuring that you will successfully get through the process in a way that won’t exhaust you or put too much stress on you. Remember, it is a lot easier to break things up into smaller pieces and reach your goal a little later than to tackle too much and end up giving up because it was too hard.
It’s not an instant meal
One thing that is hard to remember, especially when you are working so hard towards your goals (and believe me I sympathise with this point most of all), is that success is not instant. You are, unfortunately, not going to see results straight away, and it might even take a few weeks before you notice a considerable difference. This is a reason why a lot of people quit because they work so hard only to find that they don’t seem to be going anywhere. Well, take it from someone who has experienced this a lot and quit many times as a result, don’t let a plateau or slow-showing results put you off achieving your goal. Consistency is vital. If you manage to get through those hard first few weeks where nothing appears to be happening, you will soon find that you start to notice a considerable difference. All it takes is sticking with it and remembering that this kind of success takes time and is not an instant meal (unfortunately). If you need a reason to motivate you, here is something my dad keeps telling me: I know it’s hard. If it were easy, then everyone would do it. Stick with it so that it becomes easy and you are one of the few people who didn’t give up.
Skipping a day isn’t a disaster
Sometimes it is okay to take a break. You don’t have to kill yourself going to the gym every day. In fact, many exercise programs often encourage a rest day or two so that your body has time to recover, and you don’t push yourself too hard. If you find yourself short on time one day, not feeling particularly great or just feel too tired, then it is okay to skip just one day. However, don’t let this breed a nasty habit of skipping days just because you are tired. One day is okay, but if one day becomes three becomes a week, then you are getting rid of all of your hard work and may as well start over from the beginning. Resting on one day is fine, but if you find yourself looking for excuses to not do your set exercise, then you should revisit your goals and your plans. Think about why you started it all and how far you’ve come since the beginning – don’t let go of all of that just because you don’t feel like breaking a sweat today.
Celebrate little goals
It is important to celebrate your small goals because as much as we all like to think we don’t need to acknowledge these tiny milestones, we absolutely do. There is nothing wrong with celebrating your small accomplishments, such as reaching your 5km running distance (halfway to your end goal) or losing ⅙ of the amount of weight you’ve wanted to lose. By celebrating these small accomplishments, you are mentally encouraging yourself to keep going. If the success of a small goal is rewarded, then imagine how satisfying a big goal will be? However, be careful that you set the right kind of rewards for your little goals. Don’t pick something ridiculous like binge-eating junk food and not exercising for three days because what good will that do? Celebrate your small goals with good rewards, but don’t forget that you still have a big goal you want to achieve.
Make it consistent
Consistency is the key to success. Practice makes perfect in almost every discipline and unfortunately, as much as I tried to deny it for years (yes dad you were right, may the gloating commence) this is also true for exercise. To get better at doing something like running, you need to run more. The more you do it, the better and easier it will get. But another reason why consistency is good is that it gets you into the habit so that doing your little exercise routine becomes as standard as brushing your teeth. This consistency is good because it gets your body into a healthy lifestyle. Also, as I mentioned above, if you are consistent, then you will soon see astonishing results, but only if you have been sticking to it. Consistency is so great for just about all aspects of your exercise program. Just think it takes only 30 days to make a habit so in only 30 days your new exercise program could just become part of your new healthy lifestyle.
Make it fun
Exercise can tend to be very boring because, for most exercises, you are alone in your head with nothing and no one for company but your thoughts. Also, doing the same exercises over and over again in the same place can be a very tiresome and soul-crushing experience. I mean I can’t think of how many times people have said how bored they get running on a treadmill. So, if you know that you might get bored (and hey there is nothing wrong with you if you do in fact I’d be surprised if you don’t) then find ways to make it fun. Listening to music when you exercise is the easiest one, or if you can’t change your location, then at least change up your routine so that you aren’t doing the same thing all the time. The last thing you want to happen is to quit because things got boring right?
Hold yourself accountable
This is an essential part of starting and sticking with an exercise program – finding ways to hold yourself responsible. Goals are an excellent way to do this because you will be able to see whether or not you achieved what you set out to achieve, but you should maybe find another way to hold yourself accountable. You could say that if you skip a day, you have to do what you skipped plus your standard amount the next day, or you could ‘punish’ yourself by saying if you don’t do enough or skip too many times, you can’t do certain things. Now I personally hate the punishment route because that puts me in a bad mood, so I opt for the first option. This is because there is no way I want to do double on a particular day; it will ensure that I don’t skip anything in the first place. Find the accountability method that works for you, to ensure that you make sure you don’t let yourself down in achieving what you set out to accomplish.
Phone a friend
I’ve found that in a lot of circumstances, roping a friend into your exercise program can be a very beneficial idea. This is because it is always a lot more fun to do something boring and tiring like exercise when you have someone else with you because there is no bonding quite like suffering through sweat and muscle ache together right? Another reason why having a friend doing things with you is a good idea is that you can hold each other accountable, and motivate each other to complete your goals. Things are always easier when there is an extra pair of hands to lighten the load, so if you know of a friend who is also looking to start an exercise routine or wouldn’t mind joining you with yours, enlist them. You’ll soon see that having someone suffer through it with you, who both motivates you and keeps you in check, makes it that much easier to reach the finish line. And the bonus is that you both accomplish your goals together – how awesome is that?
Don’t make it hard for yourself – use what ya got
My last piece of advice might seem obvious, but I’m going for it anyway – don’t make things harder for yourself than necessary. Nobody knows your life and schedule better than you so don’t try and do things that you know you won’t be able to fit in. The best solution for this is to use what you’ve got. If you know you don’t have time to go to the gym or fit in a long workout, then try doing HIIT workouts at home that don’t require any equipment. If you hate running on the treadmill but have a park nearby, why not treat yourself to the fresh air and the scenery? If you are struggling to motivate yourself to get up and exercise but have a dog, why not make it a goal to take your dog on a long/fast walk or run every day. That way, you get to spend time with your loving pet and tick the exercise box. Life is already hard, and there is no reason to make it more so, so use what you have around you to try and make your new exercise program as easy to get into and stick with as possible.
And so there you have it. 12 tips and tricks that will hopefully help you rethink the way you have been starting and doing exercise programs and reinstall your motivation to achieve those goals. I hope that these tips and tricks do help you achieve the goals you want and more importantly, I hope you enjoyed the blog post in general. I want to say a special thank you to all of you today, particularly to all of you who are following the blog and who consistently read the posts, because today marks six months since Tall Blonde Tales was born. I wanted to thank each and every one of you for your continued support – it really has been a driving factor in keeping me going even when I thought of giving up. You are all so amazing and the reason why I write here. To all of you reading Tall Blonde Tales for the first time, thank you so much for taking the time out of your day to read my blog – I really do appreciate it. Please, if you aren’t already following the blog, don’t forget to subscribe so you don’t miss out on future blog posts, and also if you enjoyed reading today’s post, please click that little like button at the bottom of this page. Sorry for this blog post being longer than usual but there was so much to say, and I wanted to make sure I didn’t leave out any information you might need or want. As always, you are all fantastic!
Lots of Love
Blondey on a Mission xxx