How to Get (and Stay) Fit: Build a Routine

One of the hardest parts of working out is finding time in the day to cram it all in. Gone are the days where, as children, we had countless afternoons that melted seamlessly into evenings where we played carefree until the sun went down; or as college/university students, we could pack things up and squeeze in a work out before, after, or in-between classes (who am I kidding: even skipping a class wasn’t entirely off the table in those days); or, as high level athletes we could depend on strict schedules that included extreme fitness training, practices and matches to keep us in shape. After the joyride is over and the reality of responsibilities start to kick in – you know, jobs, partners, children – it’s a lot harder to keep in shape and a lot less motivating to put in the extra push.

Staying in shape; what does that even mean? Does it mean being able to run as far and as fast as you did as a teenager? Does it mean fitting into the jeans you’ve held onto since college? Such unrealistic expectations are a great way to give up on a healthy lifestyle altogether; why put in the effort if you aren’t seeing results?

First things first; adjust your expectations. Now that you’re all grown up, it’s time to admit that maybe, just maybe, the dream if over. Today’s workout isn’t about bringing you one step closer to being an NHL all-star, it’s a commitment to establishing and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Don’t get me wrong; setting smaller targets within that goal is a great way to keep motivated. Do sign up for races, lessons, social leagues and competitions, but do not dissuade yourself from living a healthy lifestyle because you’ve set unrealistic and unobtainable goals. Whether you’re an amateur, an experienced athlete or a  has-been looking for that extra push, it’s never been more important to start small and work your way back up.

What’s the best way to get your butt back in gear?

Working from home, I’ve experienced a whirlwind of ups and downs when it comes to fitness. Let’s be honest; no one gets rock solid cheeks from sitting around on a computer all day. So how do you leave enough time for a workout without feeling guilty about walking away from the computer screen?It all comes down to creating a routine, and sticking with it. I found that if I don’t schedule some type of exercise into my weekly calendar, it is so easy to postpone and postpone… and postpone until finally two days, four days, a week has gone by and I haven’t worked out once. My solution to this problem was creating a routine that compromised of multiple exercise routine.

a) Financial commitment: The first step I made towards creating a functional and realistic routine was to sign up for an activity (or two) where some form of financial commitment forced me to partake. In my case, this included paying up front for a 6vs6 outdoor soccer league that consists of 90 minute games where I work my leg muscles and get some great cardio in the form of endurance and intervals. The second commitment I made was to bite the bullet and sign up for the Goodlife. I mean this literally (the gym) but it really did lead to an improvement in my quality of life. I now have access to group classes, circuit training, weights and cardio equipment hooked up to TVs where I exercise at least 2-3/week to get my money’s worth.

b) Pairing up: The second step I made towards establishing an unbreakable routine was to find a buddy to workout with at least once a week. For me, this was scheduling a weekly run with a former teammate of mine, bright and early! It is not only a great cardiovascular workout, it also allows me to catch up with a friend and kick start my day with a boost of adrenaline and the feeling that I’m doing something really healthy for my body. The best thing about pairing up? You feel really guilty when you cancel. Trust me, if the looming guilt doesn’t kick your butt out of bed at 7am, nothing will!

c) Finally, I leave 1-2 days open for my workout of choice. This might include biking with my husband or another trip to the gym to partake in step class or body pump! Leave yourself some wiggle room for the unexpected – this way you won’t feel completely trapped in a routine but you may just feel compelled to keep up the momentum from previous days.

Ironically, I strayed from my routine today as a result of an article that simply had to get finished today. What a load of crap! Could I have gone to the gym this morning? Absolutely! In this case, just like in every other case when I choose to prioritize other things (ahem… like work) over my health, I myself am to blame. Was this an exception in my case? Yes. And as a result, I feel sluggish and lazy, a feeling hated by giraffes the world over. Routines are great if you stick with them. Getting in to the habit can be hard (and not an overly enjoyable experience during the first few weeks) but stick with it and you’ll see major changes on the outside, and feel one hundred percent better about meeting and maintaining your goals.

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