Ah, fitness – a word that provokes a wide range of reactions. It might excite you to think about the workout you have planned for today, or you might cringe knowing that you never have enough time to hit the gym. With busy careers, daily household tasks, beauty routines and events flooding our schedules, it is hard enough to find eight hours for sleep, let alone find the time to exercise, right?
Based on the Mayo Clinic’s recommendations, we should be completing 30 minutes of physical activity each day to achieve 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity each week and strength training for all major muscle groups twice a week. Is your head spinning yet?
While this fitness expectation can feel overwhelming, it does come with major benefits: lower risk of heart disease and certain cancers, weight control, increased bone and muscle strength, improved balance and coordination, and an increase in self-esteem. If a good dose of fitness has undeniable benefits, then why, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, are 80 percent of American adults not meeting the basic fitness standards?
A simple Google search for “top reasons not to exercise” will lead you to a multitude of lists from various sources with similar excuses: too overwhelming, no motivation, competing interests, lack of energy, it’s boring, and, one of my favorites: too weak. Upon reviewing these lists there is one excuse remaining consistent across all lists – there is not enough time. However, the moment has arrived to put away the excuses and discover the secret to overcoming these barriers – it’s time to fit in fitness.
Make a Plan for Yourself
Know your goals and make a plan that is doable within your schedule. Do your kids have soccer practice in the afternoons? Need to work late a couple of nights this week? Set an alarm to wake up an extra hour early on those days to fit in your cardio; if you plan ahead week-by-week, your goals can be accomplished.
With more than 2 million fitness apps on both Apple’s App Store and Google Play, there are plenty of options for workouts and tracking progress. From yoga to running, there is an app for every activity. A couple of popular ones are Nike Training Pro, which is free and allows you to begin your fitness journey with a pre-planned program based on the activity you’d prefer to do and SWEAT app which allows you to pick from five different resistance training plans and includes weekly tailored meal plans, all for a monthly subscription fee.
Whether you prefer to utilize an app, print out workout plans from a website, or hire a personal trainer, the important thing to remember is that you begin with a plan.
Find Your Fitness Motivation
This can mean an encouraging text from a friend, a reminder notification alerting you that barre class is today, inspirational mantras posted around your living space, an Instagram post from your favorite fitness guru, or a picture of a mountain you wish to climb. Find what inspires and encourages you – keep it positive and optimistic. Focus on what you have to gain from your fitness journey rather than focusing on what you could be losing if you don’t exercise. Utilize the power of perspective through positive visualization and rewards to curate your own avenue of personal motivation.
Visualize yourself hiking through Zion National Park, moving up and down the trails with ease because you didn’t skip leg day. Maybe you prefer seeing yourself in your favorite strappy summer dress showing off the shoulders you’ve worked so hard at sculpting. Whether you’re driven by your looks, emotions, or health, keep it encouraging and positive. Don’t be afraid to share these images with others – tell your best friend about what you see for yourself in the future or share your fitness progress photos online to encourage yourself and others on this journey.
Give yourself rewards when you achieve goals; bring on the positive reinforcement. Let yourself have a bottle of your favorite wine at the end of the week because you didn’t skip any exercising days. Purchase a new pair of leggings when you start a new workout so you feel rewarded for taking on a different challenge. Maybe plan a weekend getaway around a physical activity to encourage you to reach your long-term fitness goals.
Positive reinforcement and visualizations are great motivators for keeping your fitness plan on track – just remember: always be kind to yourself.
Be Flexible With Yourself
While fitness programs and routines encourage you to work on physical flexibility, it is also crucial to work on your flexibility in other ways. Perfection is not possible. There will be days, weeks, or even months when it feels impossible to find ways to fit in your physical activity. Keep in mind that as sure as the ocean’s tide rises and falls, so will the seasons in your life change.
There will be times of extreme business when you might be waking up at 4:45 A.M. to fit in your cardio. There will also be times of less stress when life and fitness seem to synch up perfectly, and there will even be plenty of in-between seasons as well. Keep this thought in mind, life isn’t about waiting for the winds to change… it’s learning to adjust your sails. Be flexible, adjust your schedule, change your workouts, and forgive yourself if you do not meet your goal. It’s all going to be OK, this is about the lifelong journey you’ve chosen to have with yourself and fitness, not every day is going to be perfect.
Your Goals Are Entirely Up to You
What this all boils down to is you – you are the secret to fitting in fitness. There is no magic pill you can swallow to instantly make you crave your workouts or make your abs look like you’ve been training for five years. It takes planning, motivation, and flexibility to reach your goals. You and only you are the key to your own success.
Which path will you take on this adventure called life? I encourage you to take these tips and run with them at your own pace; we’re all human and our practice of fitting in fitness is not going to be flawless. Always remember that you are strong, courageous, and beautiful – I know you can do this.