I was always that girl who used to start a new fitness routine in May, dedicate myself to it entirely for a month and start to see some good results just in time for my Summer holiday. As I’ve always been fairly slim, I would tone up quite quickly and feel great in a bikini whilst away. I’d use the holiday as a time to reward myself for all the hard work I’d put in and completely overindulge.
I’d return back home, tell myself that I’d get straight back into fitness and start working on a year long healthy body. Six months later I’d start looking at gym memberships again. It was a cycle that would repeat itself year after year and I am sure that most of us have been there. I didn’t really enjoy exercising or dieting and I didn’t see either of them as being things that I could incorporate into my day-to-day life. The thought of exercising all year round was something I couldn’t begin to comprehend. I definitely didn’t believe I would ever be someone who would not only incorporate it into their life but also love that lifestyle.
When I started my new fitness routine in October 2015, I gradually found my attitude shifting. I started to enjoy working out and loving the healthy food that I was eating. I had more energy and going to the gym made me more efficient with my time. So what advice do I have for those of you who are struggling to stick to an exercise routine?
Find a friend to go to the gym with
I had previously always gone to the gym by myself but that meant that on days that I lacked motivation, I just wouldn’t go. I’d tell myself that I should go but then I’d end up telling myself that it was fine to skip a session. When I started going to the gym with a friend at uni, it was a lot harder to back out. If I didn’t go then I wouldn’t just be cancelling my own plans, I would also be ruining hers. If I really couldn’t be bothered, I would usually call her and she would talk me into going. This kept me accountable and was exactly what I needed. It was also fun to try new classes together, go for lunch or a coffee afterwards and so I started to associate the gym with having a good time.
Find an exercise programme that you like
I find running on treadmills so boring. I would just rather go outside to do my running. So why on earth had I previously planned my gym sessions around the treadmill? It shouldn’t have been a surprise to me that I never committed to the gym for longer than a month when I didn’t enjoy what I was doing when I was there. The problem was that I didn’t know what the alternative to cardio machines was. If you’re in the same position then I would recommend that you start by asking a member of your gym staff for advice – they are normally really helpful and a lot of gyms will offer you a free consultation when you sign up. If you would like something more structured then I would highly recommend the BBG guide by Kayla Itsines, attending gym classes or search for HIIT workouts on YouTube! I have done a mixture of HIIT, weight lifting and the BBG guide. I’ve followed the bbg guide for nearly a year now and it is something that I enjoy which is why I have stuck to it.
Diets don’t work because they are restrictive. You usually have to drop your calories by a significant amount or cut out a food group. I tried low carb, high fat and juice ‘detoxes’. They left me constantly hungry and with very little energy. I would cut out all junk food for a month but then I would go crazy and eat my body weight in sweets the second my diet was over. I didn’t mind dieting for a month because I always knew it would be temporary but when I decided to make long term changes, I knew that a diet wasn’t the way forward. If you eat healthily the majority of the time then the occasional treat is not going to stop you from getting the body you want. By treats I mean chocolate, crisps, sweets etc. I don’t mean food like pasta, bread and rice because they can and should be incorporated into your daily healthy lifestyle.
Focus on how you feel, not how you look
If you exercise and eat healthily then you will see physical results. It can take time to see these results and that is why it is so important to focus on how you feel, because the attitude and mindset changes that you’ll see do normally happen more quickly than the physical ones. I know that it can be frustrating when you’re not seeing the results you want instantly but don’t give up on your new routine because your body isn’t changing quickly enough. Instead, focus on whether you feel stronger, fitter, more energised, happier and altogether healthier. If you focus on how you feel then these changes should keep you committed to your new plan.
If you take one thing from this post then let it be that lifestyle changes and physical changes do take time. I started and stopped numerous fitness routines before I finally found one that I could stick to. Don’t beat yourself up if it takes a while to fully commit to something. Don’t give up your new routine because you ate a chocolate bar or skipped a session. These things are perfectly normal and we have all done it. Just keep trying, focus on why you decided to make your changes and you will get there!