Fitness Tips: How to Start & Maintain A Routine

Diet & Workout Regime

My entire life I have struggled with the maintenance of a fitness routine and healthy lifestyle.  I could never quiet get everything to work in harmony.  Either I would have my eating under control, but wasn’t working out.  Or I would be working out, but used it as an excuse to eat whatever I wanted.  This year, beginning back in October I finally committed myself to changing the way I thought about and approached a healthy lifestyle.  I have been really consistent in maintaining this for the past ten months and I would nail it down to these seven fitness tips I’m about to share with you.

Starting A Routine

Rome Wasn't Built in A Day

And neither is the perfect figure, or the perfect workout regimen, whatever it is you are looking to accomplish.  When I started working out, I began with ten minutes a day, for a week.  I then added five to ten minutes each week, until I was up to a full hour per day, six days a week.  It took me a full two months before I was working out for an hour a day.  Over those two months I built the strength and stamina I needed to actually do a full hour a day, six days a week.  If I had gone in expecting myself to do that from the moment I started I know I wouldn’t have been successful.  I would have ended up discouraged about my lack of strength to actually execute the exercises and my inability to complete the full workout without the stamina required.  By setting manageable goals, I never felt defeated, or unsuccessful and when I finally got to a full hour, six days a week I was so happy, something that seemed almost impossible that first workout I did, where just a ten minute bridge exercise seemed almost unbearable, I can now do that exercise without cringing.


Find Something You Love

I love Ballet Beautiful   Actually.  Recently in a job interview the interviewer laughed at me when I listed my workout as one of my pastimes and I hate that!  Working out doesn’t have to be something painful and monotonous that we detest and dread doing.  If you workout for one hour a day, six days a week, for the fifty two weeks of the year, you are spending 312 hours a year working out, which is the equivalent of thirteen full days.  Anything you spend doing for that amount of time should be something you enjoy and look forward to!  I firmly believe that there is a physical activity out there for everyone.  Even though I love Ballet Beautiful and have convinced at least four of my friends to try it, some of them liked it, some of them love it and some of them hate it!  Even the ones that hate it though, I’m glad they tried it, because it shows them what they don’t want.  Myself for example, I hate going the gym because I feel I lack direction when I’m there.  I don’t know how long to spend on each machine, I don’t know what exercises to do to use the muscles I want, in the way I want.  I have always loved something like Ballet Beautiful, where I don’t have to think.  I just listen to someone else, a professional, tell me exactly what to do, for how long and in what order, it’s perfect for me.  I have several posts, herehere and here which go into further detail about why I love this method.

I Have Direction...Yeah, Towards the Mall

Okay, the most shallow part of this post, using new workout clothes to inspire and motivate you to workout.  I believe this really works.  I’m also a girl who really loves to shop, even if it’s just for workout clothes.  Yes, of course you can workout in your bra and knickers (if you workout at home!), or your old college sweater, or your loungewear.  However…when you’re really trying to make yourself over, new routine, new workout…new wardrobe!  It’s definitely fun to treat yourself to some new workout clothes.  They don’t have to break the bank.  I bought some really cute colourful marble print workout clothes form Forever 21, they’re not as breathable as the more expensive alternatives, but they do the trick!  I also love these satin ballet slippers from Ballet Beautiful, I think they look really chic with the all-black gear I have from Puma, or the white marble.  I believe whatever it is that helps motivate you to make a healthier decision, it can almost never be bad.

Maintaining A Routine

Track Your Progress

I am definitely a results driven person.  I like seeing the cause and effect of my actions.  Unfortunately with fitness, gratification is delayed.  Yes, we feel great after our workouts with the release of endorphins, but the results we’re looking for (weight loss, strength, toning) you won’t see for weeks to months.  I find the best thing to do is track your progress.  I promise you will see results, I remember the first time after training with Ballet Beautiful, that I put my hand on my hips and felt my abs through my Banana Republic sweater-it was an amazing feeling.  I’ve never had prominent abdominal muscles, until this year and it was really cool to see the effect I could have on my own body.  Being able to see progress assists with our ability to make the right decisions and change our behaviour.  For more immediate result tracking I recommend an app like My Fitness Pal, where you can track your caloric intake and weight.  I know this isn’t for everyone, but it works for me.

Dedicate Time

Working out first thing in the morning works best for me.  It sets my day off on the right track, even before I’ve had my morning cup of coffee I’ve already done something good for myself and crossed off one goal for the day-which sets you up with a feeling to chase throughout the remainder of the day.  This also gets your metabolism going first thing, so you’re wide awake to face the day and burning more calories to boot!  Finally, I have more energy in the morning, I know if I wait until afterwork I’ll have a million and one excuses why I “can’t” complete my workout.  When I dedicate 6:30a-7:30a to my morning workout, I know where I’ll be fore that hour and no excuses.  The best way to tackle a to-do list is to get the most difficult and least pleasant things off the list first.  I know, I said your workout should be fun and something you enjoy, but it can be one of the more difficult things we have to do for the day.  Once you get the hard things off your list, everything else just seems so much easier to attain, try this in your everyday life too!

Mental State

As mentioned above, the real effects of working out require long-term, consistent commitment.  For this reason, I find the best motivation and the only true way you will stick to your goals is with mental will power.  We all know that our workout makes us feel good.  Immediately after you finish, you not only feel better physically, but you have a sense of accomplishment and peace of mind that you’ve done something good for yourself.  It’s important to remember this and use this as a way to motivate yourself to continue to workout day after day, when it’s so easy to make excuses for yourself.  The only person you’re letting down is YOU!

Slip Ups & How to Handle Them

In a perfect world, we would be our ideal self all the time.  Temptation wouldn’t be lurking around the corner, life stressors wouldn’t put us to the test and slip-ups wouldn’t exist.  This is not where we live.  We live in an imperfect world, which will test the boundaries of our will-power and mental state.  Because of this, we may not always drink as much water as we should, eat a salad everyday, or maintain our perfect workout streak.  The most important thing though, is not that you slipped-up, but rather, how you handle the slip-up.  Don’t let it throw you off your game!  You have goals to achieve.  We can’t live our life without ever tasting our favourite dessert again and nor should we.  We deserve to have treats now and then, but don’t blow your entire diet because of it.  We may be too exhausted from staying late at the office to wake up for a 6:30a workout, but that doesn’t mean we get to sleep in everyday of the week, because it wasn’t the perfect week!  Don’t let yourself use a slip-up as an excuse to blow off your routine.  Simply asses the situation, acknowledge it, perhaps consider how this could be avoided in the future and move on to continue working toward your goals.

If you follow these tips, I know you will be able to start and maintain a fitness routine which works for you.  Always remember if you fall off, you can always get back on, that power is on you.  Let me know your best fitness motivators in the comments!

xx Sheila