Are you making healthy lifestyle changes that involve exercise? Let me help! Here are tips on how to make working out a habit.
Hi there! My name is Chantal. This is my website – welcome!
I’m a mom of two, 30 years old, and I’m a NASM Certified Personal Trainer + Certified Nutrition Coach.
However, saying all of those things skips so much of my story when it comes to living a healthy lifestyle – including working out!
Don’t be fooled by the title of personal trainer – I did NOT grow up with regular exercise as a part of my life.
It’s totally a new habit!
In fact, I didn’t even play sports until I was in middle school. Even then, it was one season here and there. It just wasn’t something that my parents pushed on us kids.
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The point is, I didn’t start exercising just for the sake of exercise until I was an adult. It was a choice I had to make, and I had to learn everything by myself.
Learning How to Exercise Regularly
I got my very first gym membership when I was 18 years old.
I had my own car and my own job, and I got to choose to spend my money on these things.
But at that time, my choice to exercise came easily partially out of vanity and just being young! (Just being honest here.)
I didn’t really have a clue what I was doing then, either. I would just hop on the treadmill or elliptical machine for 30 minutes, do some core exercises, and call it good.
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But then I had kids, and the whole idea of exercise got thrown out the window. I had difficult pregnancies, tough deliveries, followed by postpartum depression.
(That is all a really long story, some of which you can read here.)
In short, I completely lost my way. I got up to 174 pounds about a year postpartum (I’m only 5’3″ so that’s a lot.)
Needless to say, exercise was not a big part of my life at that time. I was deep in a depression, and the medications my doctor was giving me made me feel much worse.
So I went back to the basics.
I found a gym with childcare, hired my own personal trainer, and started working out. (A great way to get out of the house when you’re a new mom!)
Slowly but surely, I started to feel like myself again. There was a stark difference in my mood and energy on the days where I exercised! Hallelujah!
(Again, this is the short version of the story.)
Somewhere along the way, I decided that becoming a personal trainer was going to be my career.
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I had to do it for accountability, for the sake of fighting off my own depression, and just for health.
But it never came easy. (Sticking to a workout plan long-term is still hard for me!)
I had to make the choice to wake up and exercise. The habit was only formed with intention. And that took me a few years to really get into a good workout routine.
But I did it!
I am at a point in my life and career where working out comes super naturally to me. It feels necessary, it feels mentally easy most days (not always), and it feels like a regular part of my life.
I want that for you, too!
That’s what brought me to writing this post.
Here are my absolute best tips on how to make working out a habit. (Even if you’re really struggling with healthy habits.)
Psst. Need ideas for new goals to work on? Here are 50 different types of fitness goals to work on.
How To Make Working Out A Habit
1. Schedule your workouts.
I know this sounds super simple, and that’s because it is! (But don’t be fooled, it’s about mindset too.)
If you don’t schedule a specific time for each of your workouts, you are significantly less likely to get them in.
If learning how to make working out a habit is important to you, have those workouts in your schedule! It’s all about that exercise routine.
Write them down, put them in your calendar, set alerts on your phone, and do the thing. SUPER important.
2. Get dressed for it right away.
If you’re a morning workout person, this is especially important. (It applies to anyone though.)
If you know that you want to work out at a certain time in the near future (within a half-hour time frame), take the first step and get into your workout clothes.
You may find that getting into your sports bra or leggings and running shoes are half the battle! Once you’re ready to go and in your workout gear, there is a mental switch that happens.
Whether it’s subconscious for you or not (dang this sports bra is tight!), getting into your gear early makes you less likely to procrastinate or cut your workout short.
You’ll be able to stick to your scheduled workout much more easily. Since you’ll already be dressed for it, you’ll be less likely to skip out on yourself.
Try it out!
Related Reading: 11 Ways To Increase NEAT (And Burn More Calories)
3. Prepare the night before.
If you have a very busy scheduled (no matter what time of day you work out) this is very important.
Pick out your workout gear, prep a healthy snack, set out your running shoes, get your water bottle out etc. the night beforehand! (Or get your gym bag with gym clothes ready.)
This is especially important if you are one of those people who uses the “no clean clothes” excuse to skip workouts.
Once you’ve gathered everything necessary for your workout, place it all where you can see it in the morning. And quit hitting the snooze button!
It will help to keep you accountable as you work on your new exercise habit – trust me!
Related Reading: 50 Different Types of Fitness Goals To Work On
4. Early is better than later.
I am old enough to know that the later in the day I push back my workout, the less likely it is to get done. (Goodbye energy and willpower.) Early morning workouts are a game-changer!
I’m not saying that you have to go to an intense spin class before dawn, but hopefully you understand what I’m saying in regards to habit formation.
Any workout is better than no workout, but getting it in early is extremely helpful when it comes to following through.
For example, I had planned to do my workout early in the morning just the other day. I didn’t do it, and then I was hit with unexpected visitors at home.
This pushed my workout back several hours, and I had to do it in the late afternoon. (3 PM workouts are no good for me.) Even though I’m happy that I still did it, it was a struggle for energy the whole time.
Life always has a way of throwing curveballs and you don’t always know just how your day will pan out.
To increase your odds of actually exercising, consider exercising earlier in the day if your schedule allows it.
(P.S. There are all kinds of fitness apps that will help you stick to it. Download one and go!)
5. Try new things until you find something you like.
This is one of my favorite tips on how to make working out a habit. There are no hard-and-fast rules about working out.
But at the end of the day, if you hate the type of exercise you’re doing, you’re not ever going to make it a habit.
It’s just never gonna be a true fitness routine if you hate what you’re doing.
The solution is to keep trying new things until you find something you like. Or, if you get bored easily, just keep trying new things to keep it interesting.
I’ll tell you my favorite forms of exercise – any dancing and lifting!
I am not a huge running type (mostly), and I find yoga to be super boring. I love to listen to upbeat, high-energy music when I exercise.
Just keep in mind that you’ll need to give something a solid chance (and give yourself some time to learn) before you can decide if you like it or not.
Example – I thought that ZUMBA was really awkward and not me, but after a few classes, I’m hooked!
Related Reading: Group Fitness 101: How To Rock Your First Class
6. Reframe your mindset.
This is sort of a vague, blanket statement, but it is SO important to consider.
Every fitness journey involves mental health and mindset.
If you are thinking of exercise as a punishment for something you’ve eaten, you’re setting yourself up for a negative relationship with working out.
Exercise is a privilege for the able-bodied! USE IT OR LOSE IT!
It’s time to exercise for health – to thank your body for getting you through life!
If you have a lot of negative attitudes towards food or fitness, it’s time to go back in time and find out why. Reframing your mindset takes intention and practice, but it can be done!
Related Reading: Why Self-Awareness Is The Missing Piece Of Your Weight Loss Journey
7. Find accountability.
You don’t need to force your husband or BFF into being a gym-rat. (Unless you can swing it!)
There are tons of different ways to get some accountability when it comes to learning how to make working out a habit.
Join a Facebook group. Hire a mindset coach or online personal trainer. Keep a journal. Get a new fitness app that has reminders. Join a gym. The possibilities are endless!
8. Quit focusing on the scale.
If the scale messes with your head, it’s time to make fitness goals unrelated to your weight. Your exercise plan shouldn’t just be about weight.
This is a big one for me, so this year I’ve set goals for:
- Body Fat Percentage
- Number of Workout Sessions Total For the Year
Each of those has a “big” goal for the end of the year broken down into monthly chunks. I know that if I hit those goals, I’m almost guaranteed to lose weight.
But since my body composition is due to change a lot, I don’t want to dwell on the fluctuations.
So, if you get too “in your head” when you see the numbers on the scale, opt to weigh-in less frequently.
9. Quit Setting Unrealistic Goals
Want to keep quitting on yourself and the good habits you’re trying to form? The best way to do that is to set unrealistic expectations for yourself.
Your food and workout goals should be realistic and actually attainable. (Not another outlandish New Year’s Resolution!)
In personal training, we have a great acronym for goal-setting. It’s called SMART, and it is pretty much the first thing I dig into with clients.
When you make a new fitness plan, your goals should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely.
No more setting goals like, “I want to exercise more this year and lose some weight.”
Your goals should be super specific (i.e. I want to work out 120+ times this year). This is measurable, and it’s something that I can actually achieve realistically within a specific timeline.
Broken down, that means I’d have to exercise at least 10 times per month.
If this were my goal, I’d also have to define what I consider a workout and not. (Again, very specific!)
Hopefully you get the idea! If you are still creating dreamy goals that are just out-there-ridiculous and don’t fit into your daily routine, your self-esteem will take a huge hit.
Please set goals that you can realistically achieve!
Related Reading: How to Set Realistic Fitness Goals After Having a Baby
That’s all, friend!
Hopefully you feel empowered on your journey to learning how to make working out a habit.
I wish you the best on your journey.
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