When we were kids we never “exercised.” Maybe you would run a 5k with a parent, but you never did it to get a better time. This is especially true when we were very young. Our exercise was playing outside with our friends. Kids run around all day with endless energy and never think about how many calories they are burning. This is the last thing on their mind. Their movement is from pure joy and fun. They are not afraid to get dirty or go explore a new playground. It’s about play. There is never an agenda to play; kids simply enjoy it! There is no fitness routine.
How is this relevant to us today? Today, too much emphasis is placed on needing to do a certain type of exercise. How many times have you heard that the only way to get fit is to go to a gym or join an exercise class? It’s crazy how society pushes a set way of doing things when everyone is so different. No two people like the same things. How can we prescribe one way of doing things? The answer is you can’t. There is no reason that the answer to creating a fitness routine is going to the gym. There are so many other ways to enjoy fitness while creating a sustainable fitness routine.
Starting Your Fitness Journey
The “right” way to exercise has dissuaded people from starting any kind of fitness routine for too long. People are afraid to start their fitness journey because they think the only way to do things is to follow what “everyone” is doing. I had this exact problem. The people around me told me the only way to lose weight was to spend endless hours on cardio machines in the gym. I hated getting on those machines. I watched the seconds tick by waiting for the cycle to end. The experience was beyond horrible. I enjoyed none of it, yet endured it. It wasn’t surprising that after a few weeks I had totally ditched the routine. I felt horrible and felt like I had failed. Those thoughts compounded and resulted in me doing no exercise.
Out of shape and checked out
It wasn’t until years later that I realized the error in my approach. I didn’t start with what I loved. I had no motivation to keep the fitness routine because there was no passion in it. You have to start your fitness journey with the passion to keep it sustainable. There is only so much willpower you can exert to keep doing something you do not like. Willpower is a finite resource. Going through a forced exercise routine is a poor reason to deplete it. So how do you start your fitness journey and avoid the pitfalls I fell into?
Start With What You Love
It seems simple right? Yet, so many people miss this when creating a sustainable fitness routine. Starting your fitness journey is all about finding what you love. Just like the kids on the playground, exercise should never feel forced. This is especially important when you first start. Pick out one or two things that you love and commit to doing them three times a week even it’s for only 10 minutes. This is exactly what I did. I found that I loved hiking and getting lost in the woods. I made sure that I hiked every weekend. It never felt like exercise, yet I was getting plenty.
Doing what I love!
When you do what you love, you keep doing it. It creates momentum and you start to build your life around that activity. You don’t want to miss it because you love it so much. Take some time and think about activities that you love doing. What activities do you lose yourself in? What have you done in the past where you lose track of time? These are the sort of things that can help you create a fitness routine. They feel easy and most importantly you want to do them.
Join a Like-Minded Fitness Group
After you find something you are passionate about, find a group to do it with! Some people like to exercise alone, but most people enjoy doing it in a group. A group can keep you motivated even on days when you are not feeling up to getting out there. If you know you respond well to external motivation this should be a high priority for you. Gretchen Rubin’s habit quiz can give you a better idea of what motivates you. Obligers will need external motivation and the support of a fitness group. I’m a questioner, but I still find fitness groups to be helpful. I started triathlons because of a fitness group. It was from their support that I was able to wade through all the complexity of triathlon. I would never have started otherwise.
Repping my tri team during a recent tri
Finding a fitness group in your town is super easy. Meetup.com is a great place to start to find all sorts of groups. You can even search groups in places you are traveling to. Facebook is another great option to find local groups that suit your interest. Don’t be afraid to go alone. People are usually really friendly and welcoming. It may take a few meetups to integrate into the group, but soon it will feel like you’ve been there forever. These groups will inspire you to keep coming out. You will probably even make some friends you can train with outside of the group!
Creating a Fitness Routine
When you are doing what you love and have found a group to do it with, creating a fitness routine is easy. The beginning of a fitness journey is always the hardest, but momentum makes sustaining it much easier. You will begin to relish training and you will likely want to do more. When you feel like this, stay realistic. How much time do you have to dedicate per week? You don’t want to stretch yourself too thin and eat into your recovery. This can cause stress and make your life worse. A solid routine is one that you have been doing for a month or two. This is usually the sign of a habit.
One of my three weekly routine swims
Don’t be afraid to try some new things in your routine at this point. You don’t want your fitness routine to get boring. Mix in some new routes or find a new activity. It never hurts to try something new. You’ve come a long way in your journey braving a lot of discomforts. Don’t be afraid to add a little more. Diversity in your training will keep it going for the long term. We want to create a fitness routine for life. Make your routine sustainable and love every day!
Living a Lifestyle of Fitness
Starting a fitness journey can be very difficult. Starting with what you love makes it so much easier. Find passion in fitness and create a fitness routine that will last a lifetime. Get over your limiting beliefs and show yourself you can create fitness. Change your life and start living the life you want. To start your fitness journey and create a lasting fitness routine follow these steps:
- Start with what you love
- Find a fitness group to support you
- Create and build momentum around a fitness routine
- Add in the diversity and variety to keep going
- Model your life and values around fitness
It can be very intimidating starting a fitness routine especially when you are starting from nothing. Don’t be intimidated! Start something and create the life you want.
Create a routine to FINISH
What have you done to start a fitness routine? What are some activities you love? Do you have specific motivators that keep you training? Let me know in the comments.
Join the Fitness Crusaders to FIGHT the battle for fitness
Need more help starting your fitness journey? Join the FREE Fitness Crusaders FB group for support and challenges to live healthier. Eat healthier, train smarter, and FIGHT the demons of bad health! Join the community that will support YOU in your fight for good health. Pick up your lance and mount your bike to conquer the battlefields of life!