10 Tips for Starting a New Fitness Routine and Making it a Habit
By Kristina LaRue, RD, CSSD
Beginning a new fitness routine in a world with seemingly endless options can be a daunting task. And making your routine a habit can be an even greater obstacle to overcome when your day-to-day responsibilities are pulling you in a million different directions. How can you find the time or energy?
With the right fuel, mindset, and strategies for success, you can break down any barriers that stand between you and the healthy habits you want to establish!
It may seem incredibly cliché to point out that having an accountability partner is a very important piece of the puzzle when it comes to your health goals, but research suggests that increased support from your social circle results in a higher chance of maintaining your new fitness routine (1). Surrounding yourself with people who continually motivate and inspire you to reach the goal you’ve set is a game changer!
2. Shift Your Mindset
Intrinsic motivation can foster exercise participation, whether it’s to set a healthy example for someone close to you, address familial or lifestyle-associated wellness concerns, or just to feel your absolute best. Having the right mindset is a critical part to pioneering a new fitness routine. This seems like a simple concept, yet it can be one of the most difficult obstacles to overcome. It has been demonstrated that a shift in mindset occurs when you learn the benefits of an active lifestyle (2). This means that your mindset has the potential to remake your relationship with exercise. When you begin to perceive exercise as a way to fuel and care for your body, it becomes a “get to” instead of a “have to.”
3. Get Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable
It’s so easy to live in comfort and familiarity - but that’s not where change and growth happen. Stepping out of your comfort zone into an atmosphere of productive discomfort is nerve-wracking yet freeing. Letting go of what you know and embracing the unfamiliar cultivates growth and accomplishment of things you never anticipated. Moving beyond any threshold you’ve set for yourself has the potential to awaken slumbering inspiration you may be searching for.
4. Make it Fun
Many of us think of exercising in a negative way. Kick that mindset by spicing up your routine! Take your favorite downtime activities such as podcasts, streaming TV shows, or playlists with you when you exercise. The enjoyment of music may help to outweigh the negative perception of the discomfort of exercise. This may, in turn, produce a positive association with physical activity.
5. Keep it Simple
With the endless options of exercise regimens, it can be overwhelming knowing where to start. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be complicated! Take a walk with a friend, go on a hike, or take a bike ride through your neighborhood. Keeping it simple with your exercise routine will relieve the pressure of feeling like you have to be an expert from the start. Starting small and taking it one day at a time increases the likelihood of achieving long-term lifestyle changes.
6. Be Intentional
No matter how many times you’ve started and stopped an exercise regimen, you can always start again. Allow yourself to explore past successes and failures when it comes to those former exercise routines that may be painful or shameful to look back at. Commit to making a change by setting intentions and taking one step forward at a time. Small victories along your journey can pave the way for higher intentions and positivity toward your ultimate goal.
7. Eliminate Comparison
Social media has become a catalyst for comparison. One click and you can find yourself wondering “Why haven’t I seen the results he/she has?” or “There’s no way I could ever do that.” Suddenly you’re left feeling defeated without having started. Eliminating comparison allows you the grace needed when you’re feeling not enough or like giving up. There’s only one you. Focus on your unique journey and release any expectations you may be holding onto.
8. Be Efficient
Planning out your week with the intention to incorporate movement is a great place to start. Your workouts don’t have to be 2-hour gym sessions 5 days a week. A 15-30 minute high-intensity workout, a family walk after dinner, or a jog around the neighborhood might be all you’re able to commit to right now. Whatever movement looks like for you, be efficient with the time you carve out. Set aside the distractions of life and fuel your body with movement!
9. Celebrate Non-Scale Victories
Your identity is not found in the number on your scale. Defeat comes quickly when the number on the scale isn’t what you were anticipating. Stepping back to observe your progress can realign the thoughts you have about your journey. Maybe you began your routine doing push-ups from your knees. Now you’ve progressed to completing 10 full-body push-ups without gasping for air! There are always small victories to celebrate that the scale may never reveal. They deserve to be celebrated!
10. Fuel Up Sensibly
Use Quaker Oats to create snacks like power balls and muffins to help provide fuel for your workout. Post workout be sure to get in a balanced meal with protein, carbs, and healthy fats to help your muscles recover from exercise.