Working out is like having sex (got you interested, didn’t I). Once you’re there, it’s great and feels good, and you want to do it again! It’s building up to that motivation, which is sometimes the challenge.

In the last six months, I have not had the get-up-and-go energy I used to have for working out. When I returned home from Maine last August, I was emotionally and physically exhausted from 60-hour workweeks and homesickness. My body was filled with toxicity and exhaustion, and all I did for several months was sleep. Then, the joy of fall filled the air, followed by Christmas, and I put myself back on the hamster wheel of decorating the house, writing and launching a digital course on hosting Thanksgiving, and meeting with friends I hadn’t seen since my return home. I felt that to be productive, I needed to keep busy. The New Year came around, then Valentine’s Day, I worked on projects around the house I hadn’t had time before because I was in Maine for two years, and now we just finished Easter. Where in the last eight months did I take time for my health by prioritizing exercise? Nowhere at all.

What’s my why? It’s simple: I am not getting younger, and I want to position myself to be as healthy as possible as I age. I want to be independent, free from disease and disability. I don’t want to spend another ten years blowing off my health, wishing I hadn’t wasted a single moment creating the best life possible. I want to be a healthy, lively, energetic 100-year-old! Plus, I want to burn off all the calories from the cake I like to eat!

During the pandemic, I challenged myself to work up to sixty laps in our pool by my fifty-sixth birthday. I like to spend time in my pool, but I would never call myself a swimmer. I was skeptical I could stick with it because I thought it would be boring and drag on forever. I had set my mind to fail already!  I am glad I recognized I was getting in my way of succeeding. I created a pool playlist I could hustle to from the poolside speaker and tried (and failed) to find a Doris Day swim cap. By August, I had completed my goal and had lost ten pounds. I highly recommend swimming, and once the weather gets warm enough to swim, I will be back at it.

In the past, I’ve sabotaged my success by saying things like, “The gym is boring” or “I don’t know what to do once I am there because it’s overwhelming.” To help change my mindset, I’m implementing two action steps to establish a routine I can stick to.

Get a Map

If you are planning a road trip, you need a map to plan your route. Otherwise, you will have no idea where you are going. My map is this Fitness Journal from Commit30. Right now, the journals are on sale at 34% off. You can track everything from goals, weekly plans, water intake, weight, etc. I know there are apps for recording such things, but I like the feel of using a paper planner. The night before a workout I jot down my plans for the gym – what I want to do for warm up, cool down, what area of the body will be my focus and I make notes of the videos or apps I want to refer to during my workout. Think of it as preparing your personal training plan for the day. I know what I am doing immediately when I walk into the gym. I use the journal to write down my accomplishments and heart rate. Looking back on five months from now will be helpful to see all my progress and efforts. If you don’t want to invest in a journal, make your own with a spiral notebook you can pack in your gym bag.

Schedule Gym Days

My second tip is that I am scheduling my gym days—no negotiation. While the times may vary based on appointments or meetings, I’m committed to going to the gym Tuesday through Friday.  This article from Mayo Health addresses the importance of scheduling your workouts. If you give these workout days the same importance as a doctor’s appointment, you are likelier to stick with it. My stretch goal is to do something physical every day, even on non-gym days. Since I love to take my dog Hazel for a walk, I’m finishing each day with an evening walk, which I enjoy.

If you don’t know where to start, read this article for the 4-2-1 workout trainers say is the most effective workout routine. In summary, it’s a type of workout split that takes the guesswork out of what to do when you show up at the gym. It consists of three different categories divided into a week: Four strength training workouts per week, two cardio sessions per week, and one mobility session per week. The article goes in greater detail, but this handy graphic gives you the idea:

Courtesy of The Everygirl

As I write this, since April 1, I have successfully fulfilled my workout goals, and I look forward to continuing my journey.  My energy level is way up, too. So, if you want to join me, grab a journal, and let’s go!

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