The gym can be an intimidating place, especially for those patients who haven't worked out since high school gym class. And the idea of jumping into a workout routine is a scary thought. "What if I fail? What if I make a fool of myself? I am ashamed of how out of shape I really am." These are all thoughts (and excuses) I have heard, and you are entitled to them. Yet, I am here to motivate you to get up, get out, and get active!
The key to starting any exercise program and making a habit out of movement is to start slow. Don't put pressure on yourself to run a 5K in 3 months when you haven't ran in 3 years. Don't expect to be able to lift as much weight as you did when you were 150 pounds smaller. Don't shame yourself for not being able to touch your toes because your belly is in the way. Stop the negativity and stop comparing! *stepping down from soap box*
How to Create an Exercise Regimen You Stick To
There are a few tips to making exercise a habit that you stick to for longer than 2 months.
1. Find something you enjoy
This is so important to your long term commitment and consistency. Just like you wouldn't marry someone you don't like being around, don't commit yourself to a style of exercise you can't stand to do. That will only lead you to making more excuses as to why you can't or don't want to exercise.
So, find a form of exercise that you enjoy doing and makes you feel comfortable. I promise, overtime you will learn to love working out —you just have to create the habit now by doing something you get a thrill out of.
2. Get a workout buddy
A workout buddy is the ultimate form of accountability. Just be sure you find someone who is going to motivate you, not enable you. There will be days when you will make every excuse in the book as to why you can't workout. So you want to find a workout partner that won't read into the BS.
Similarly, make sure your workout buddy isn't going to be someone that will bring you down with them. If they don't want to go to the gym and they convince you that you shouldn't either, that is ultimately not someone who supports you and cares about your health. It may be time to find a new workout partner.
We do offer workout classes for our bariatric patients. This is a wonderful form of accountability and a chance to meet other individuals who are in the same season of life as you are.
3. Know your 'why'
What is it that you want to be able to do? Now answer, why do you want to do that? Understanding your primary motivator for beginning a workout routine is key to your long term success.
You may want to workout to reduce your risk of developing heart disease. Or you want to tone up and build muscle mass. Whatever your reason, it is important to use that as your drive to keep pushing. Find your inspiration then begin to set goals for how you can achieve your 'why'. I recommend writing it down and looking at it everyday so you don't lose focus.
4. Start Small
As I said above, the key to success for any workout regime is to start small. You may be thinking you can't wait to be able to deadlift your body weight. Or your primary motivator for exercise is fit into that yellow polka-dot bikini (*cue Brian Hyland music*).
Knowing your 'why' is important to your overall success. Yet the problem is when your 'why' begins to feel more like defeat than it does drive. Are you losing motivation to workout because you haven't met your "goal" yet?
Setting lofty and unrealistic goals are not wrong, but don't use those goals as your primary measure of success. Instead, set small and measurable goals then build upon your larger vision (or your 'why'). Believe me, you will feel more motivated to keep going over time.
Once you are able to build a habit of movement, you will find many ways to improve your workout routine. You will learn to love fitness and will see the value in that sweat sesh. So stop making excuses and get to it!