Sunday, April 28, 2013

Kicking the "Yo-Yo Exercise" Habit

"Did I say I'd start working out today? I meant next Monday."

Since I graduated from high school (way back in 2005!), I've struggled with keeping a consistent exercise routine. I'd always gotten exercise through team sports, so working out always had a "purpose." I'd never really worked out for the sake of working out. You know how people talk about "yo-yo dieting?" I'm a pretty consistent healthy eater, but Lord knows I've been a terrible yo-yo exerciser!

That's right, I'm saying "I've been" instead of "I am" a yo-yo exerciser, because I am working really hard on NOT being one anymore! I've tried and failed to keep an exercise routine for years, but for about the past two months, I've been getting my butt off the couch five times a week, every week.

No, two months isn't a long time. Yes, I may be overly proud of that achievement. I've worked out for two consecutive months many times before (hence the "yo-yo" idea), but this time just feels different. I feel a dedication and sense of accomplishment/pride that was missing during my previous exercise "phases." So I'd like to share some of the ways I've stuck with it!

  • Start with a Short-Term Goal: When I first managed to pry myself from the couch, I had a seemingly easy goal in mind - work out 5 days this week. Not one day. Not two days. Five days, no excuses. Every time I wanted to quit, or felt "too tired" to work out that day, I reminded myself that it was ONE WEEK. What kind of P.O.S. human being can't stick with something for a week? Of course, after a week, you'll probably already feel stronger, more motivated, and more energetic, and chances are it will be SO much easier to keep it up "just one more week."
  • Take "Before and After" Pictures:  If you're just starting a routine, take pictures of yourself on your first day. In just two months, I've seen so many changes in my body, and I'm kicking myself for not having any "before" pictures to compare it to. But - don't take pictures too often, and don't get discouraged if you don't see all the change you were hoping for. It's a slow process, so focus more on how different you feel
  • Keep a Journal (or a Blog!): How good do you feel after a workout? Write it down! Once that feeling fades and the alarm clock goes off the next morning, reading a reminder of how good you'll feel if you can drag your ass out of bed might be just what you need. Don't just write down the good; keep track of the bad, too. Every time I eat late at night, even if it's a semi-healthy snack, I feel bad the next morning. Every single time. The act of identifying bad habits (eating an unhealthy meal, skipping a workout) in writing, and relating them to feeling physically or mentally bad, could keep you from repeating those actions.
  • Find your "Fitspiration!": Pinterest, Pinterest, Pinterest. Whenever I'm feeling unmotivated, nothing gets me up and moving like the "Health and Fitness" boards on Pinterest. The inspirational quotations and pictures of badass women with six packs usually do it for me, but find your own websites, pins, or ideas that keep you inspired. "Before & After" pictures can also be really motivating.
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    Yes, you still have an awesome six pack. You don't have to keep checking.
  • Live for Today: In the past, when I ate junk food or didn't work out one day, I would just give up. You know, this mentality: "Well, my day is ruined. Might as well ruin it completely!" That sounds crazy, right? OK, so yesterday you skipped your workout. Lucky for you, today isn't yesterday, and this morning isn't this evening. Everyone slips up sometimes, but view that mistake as an isolated incident. It doesn't have to affect the rest of your day/week! Every day is a new day to achieve your goals. Don't worry about long-term goals for next month, next summer, next year... focus on today's goals and the rest of them will be achieved in time!
  • Visualize Success: If you've planned to work out in the morning, take a few minutes when you lay down in bed to imagine having a great, energetic morning workout. Imagine how accomplished you'll feel in the shower, and how much better your whole day will be. This might sound hard, but even try to look forward to your workout. I find that I definitely wake up more easily and with more determination.
  • Do It for Yourself: Maybe you want to look great to impress someone else, but don't let that person be the reason you work out. If that person isn't around, or if you have an argument, you can easily fall off the wagon. I've made this mistake before! Sure, your significant other will be happy that you're working out and getting fit, but by far the most important thing is that YOU are happy that you're working out.
Hopefully some of these tips helped! I'm definitely a work in progress, and this has been a great reminder to start and follow good habits. Thanks for reading!

- Kelly

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