"If I never had to see the inside of a gym again, I'd be a very happy person.”
Thank you, Reese Witherspoon, for finally saying what so many of us have thought. I know that for myself, as a college student with a full-time class schedule and two part-time jobs, the thought of a workout routine seems unattainable and borderline insufferable. I often think to myself, How can I possibly manage routine workouts when my work and personal schedules are overloaded? Isn’t that exercise enough?
Well, if that schedule involves sitting on your bum the whole time, probably not. Whether it’s the thought of physical exertion or the stress of managing exercise into a tight schedule that’s got you thrown, here are three steps to help you introduce a fitness routine into your busy life.
01. Swap your formula for fun.
Tennis pro Venus Williams acknowledges the importance of having a balanced workout routine–whether she’s training or not. “It’s my job to be healthy, so it’s something that’s always in the forefront for me.” While she admits routinely working out comes easily to her as a pro athlete, we can all still learn from her choice to take ownership of her fitness.
Just as Williams says she has a duty to her health, we're all accountable for when, how, and why we workout. Routines should be less about monotony and more about meaning. If your workout routine (or lack thereof) is stressing you out, then you’re likely not going to reap its benefits. Change your mentality toward a workout routine by treating it less like work and more like play. As the weather gets warmer, plan a weekly Saturday morning nature walk with a girlfriend. Or rally a group for after-work pickup volleyball games. The more fun you’re able to make your workout routine, the more likely it will be a habit you look forward to rather than dread.
02. Personalize it.
It’s easy to fall into envying other people who celebrate their workout routines or fitness progress on social media. We think to ourselves, They must just have more time on their hands . . . or Aren’t they lucky to have a personal trainer or gym membership . . .
But it’s thoughts like these that rob us of focusing on our own bodies and our own fitness.
No two workout routines are created equal. Nor is there a correct or incorrect way to approach regular exercise. Because workout routines don’t come “one size fits all," customize yours for your body type and your lifestyle—not that of your peer's. Maybe you prefer running or walking; maybe you like watching workout videos in the comfort of your own home; or maybe group classes are the motivation you need. The key is to start simple: by simply doing what works for you.
03. Celebrate the little victories.
Don’t feel that you have to have a workout routine like everyone else. When we feel this irrational sense of obligation, we exercise out of fear rather than purpose. Yes, discipline is an integral part of a workout regime. But it shouldn’t be the largest contributing factor for why you make time to work out.
Find confidence in recognizing and appreciating the little victories you make toward a healthier, stronger you. It could be as simple as recognizing the physical activity in a strenuous task, such as helping your friend move out. The smallest bits of progress amount to a lot, so they're worthy of recognition.
Falling in love with a workout routine is much easier when you give yourself permission to actually like it. Workout routines don’t have to be daunting or unachievable. When we intentionally seek to work out in ways that motivate or excite us, it becomes less awful and more awesome. So the time to start loving the thought of a workout routine is now!
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