Getting (and staying) motivated while building new exercise and wellness habits is hard. Finding a routine that works means finding one that you can keep up with long-term. While your routine can evolve over time, it’s good to start with some basic habit setting first, so we got tips from our Freshly HQ team to help dig into why we make wellness changes so we can figure out how to stick with them long-term.
1. Reframe your thinking
Do you think of exercise as a chore? Your eating habits as a temporary diet? How can you reframe these huge parts of your life so they feel intentional and integrated? If “exercising” isn’t for you, try aiming for more “movement” so you can add in a little more activity, day by day (like standing up at your desk once an hour or going for a walk on your lunch break). If “diets” don’t work, how can you make your everyday choices a little better (like eating more greens)?
2. Consider the benefits.
For example: If you’re starting a new exercise routine, it’s helpful to remember that the benefits go far beyond the physical. Start by making a list of all the things that are positive about your new routine. (“Increased self-esteem,” “personal time to de-stress,” etc.)
Need help making your list? Here are some more amazing perks that come with adding movement to your day:
-Improved mental focus/clarity
-Improved metabolism and fat-burning potential
-Improved energy throughout the day
-Improved bone health
-Reduction in stress, depression, and anxiety
-Reduced cardiovascular risk
-Reduced risk for Alzheimer’s and brain disorders
-Reduced physical pain (back pain, joint pain, muscle pain, etc.)
3. Write down your WHY.
Tying a habit change to an ultimate purpose or reason will help give it meaning. Write down why you’re doing what you’re doing wherever will serve as a helpful reminder—put it on a post-it note at your desk or on your mirror at home, make it a mantra on your phone background. Maybe you want to rediscover types of movement that feel good for you. Maybe you have a very specific weight or fitness goal—think about what reaching it would feel like and why. Try keeping a journal on how different exercises make you feel and which days were tough, and when you need motivation to push through, keep re-reading your WHY.
4. Set clear, trackable goals.
While having a meaningful purpose for change is motivational, setting clear goals for yourself is important for staying on track and focusing in. Being able to take on your goals in steps will help you feel like you’re moving forward without feeling overwhelmed (and quitting as a result). Once you have a clear goal, you can build a solid action plan for getting there. Ultimately, you want to remove every obstacle in your way that could potentially inhibit your goal.
Some example starter goals:
-“This month, I want to try a new type of workout that looks fun to me (spinning, kickboxing, dance cardio, bootcamp).”
-“I want to exercise in the morning before work at least once per week.”
-“I want to build up to running a mile without stopping.”
-“I want to go from working out 3 times a week to 4 times.”
5. Think small, but be consistent.
While lots of people love long workout sessions, it can be overwhelming to jump into. More research is showing that intentional, short-duration workouts (7-minute high-intensity interval training, for instance) done every day are a good entry-point solution for improving our health.
Can you commit to doing a small series of 1-minute movements every day for a week? Here are some to get you started:
-Jogging in place
A fun way to start: Try keeping a deck of cards around when you watch TV, and flip the cards for different exercises (push-ups, sit-ups, any of the above list) based on the card number that you pull.
Between quick workouts, break up movement throughout the day—skip a train/bus stop (or get off one stop early), walk to the store and carry groceries. What little things can you do every day that are sustainable and easy?
6. Don’t be afraid to switch things up as part of a routine.
If you’re not a fan of repetition, it’s easy to see an exercise routine as a life sentence, but it’s actually better for you to incorporate different types of movement into your long-term routine. Think: strength training, flexibility and balance, endurance, cardio, and short interval-high intensity activity (as mentioned above). Keeping things fresh will help you stick with your ultimate goal for longer.
7. Set yourself up with external motivation.
No matter the habit, having a friend with a similar goal helps keep you accountable and moving forward. But not just a single, IRL partner can help motivate you to attend a workout or start meditating—group fitness, sports leagues, and online communities can serve a similar purpose with set schedules, reminders, and lots of support.
8. Let tech help.
Speaking of external motivation, use all your devices to your advantage. If you have an apple watch or other fitness tracker, set up alerts as reminders. Make daily calendar invites or reminders to keep you on track. Save a show, podcast, or audiobook that you only watch or listen to when exercising. Or find an app that helps make exercise more fun—for instance, you may run faster if you’re running away from zombies.
9. Give yourself something to lose.
Try signing up for a class the night before—if you’re not motivated in the morning, losing the signup cost might be the extra nudge you need to get out of bed. Similarly, signing up for a race that’s months away might give you something to work toward and help you build up confidence along the way, which will make it harder to back out.
10. Lie to yourself.
OK, this one sounds odd, but it goes along with your perspective shift. If you wake up in the morning and can’t handle the idea of a long workout, tell yourself you’ll only workout for 5 or 10 minutes. Once you’re there and your blood is flowing, you’ll likely stay and exercise for longer.
11. Get everything you need to play the part.
Now’s the time to treat yourself. Don’t wait until you’ve achieved your goal—the results and feelings will be reward enough to keep going long-term. Invest in your long-term health and feeling good now, and set yourself up for success. New workout clothes? Get them. A new class? Sign up. $3.99 for an app that helps you track? Download it. Signal to yourself that you’re serious about this, and that you’ll make it as easy and fun as possible to make wellness changes.
No matter your wellness routine, we’re here to help take care of the food so you have time to focus on your goals. Check out this week’s menu.