It is officially October! And you know what that means? It is almost mid-terms for those of us in school. About this far into the school year, life is hectic! Especially here in grad school with classes in full swing between juggling papers, presentations, and studying for tests.
Remember about a month and a half ago when school was starting that you made a promise to be healthier this semester? Yeah, same here. And right about now, you’re probably realizing that you have not stuck to that promise and have skipped the gym a few too many times. I used to fall into the same pattern: starting a new semester determined to get back into shape, and then once life got busy with school, exercising fell to the back burner.
This semester, I’ve done something a little different, actually stuck to my workout schedule, and I’m here to help you do the same thing!
Here are my 5 simple tips to establishing and following through an exercise routine.
1. Know your limits.
We all have busy schedules and finding time to workout can be a challenge. By looking at your schedule and finding out how many days a week you can realistically work out, you will set yourself up for something sustainable. For me, I make it a priority to go to gym on days I have class. It has become something I look forward to at the end of a long day of lectures.
2. Know what progress looks like.
My fitness journey began not as a weight loss journey but as a lifestyle change to feel healthier. I wanted to be able to run more than a mile without feeling completely exhausted. Through my regular exercise routine, I have seen small changes, such as feeling more awake and productive during the day, as well as sleeping more regularly. You, too can see progress in small ways that help keep you going!
3. Find an exercise you love.
Whether it’s running, weight lifting, HIIT training, biking, swimming, or dancing, there are countless opportunities for exercise. Do not, I repeat, do not continually do an exercise you hate. It might start out tolerable, but eventually if you do not enjoy the exercise you are doing, the motivation you had to start working out will go right out the window.
Don’t be afraid to mix it up and try something new. I recently started strength training. Prior to that, I never thought I’d be one who would love going to the gym and lifting weights, but here I am two months in and loving every day at the gym. Step out of your comfort zone, try something and see if that works for you. If not, move on and find another type of exercise you enjoy.
4. Record your progress.
Whether that is joining a step challenge with friends, becoming part of a fitness competition between friends, or just being accountable to yourself through a journal, find a way to track where you started and how far you’ve come.
My Fitness Pal is one of my favorite ways to track my progress. I use it occasionally as a food log, but it’s also a great way to keep track of exercises you enjoy and how often you do them. The best part about this app, its free! Find a method that works for you to track your progress and stick to it.
5. Celebrate your accomplishments!
Progress is progress! Celebrate being able to run longer and not feel winded at the end of a run. Or celebrate finishing a set in the gym without feeling like your arms might fall off. Or just celebrate actually sticking to your plan for more than two weeks.
Starting off slow and steady will win you the race in the end, I promise. Making a habit of exercise will pay off in the long run. Don’t fall into the trap of wanting to just lose a few pounds for a special event or try and “get fit for the summer”. Exercise is part of living a long and healthy life, so why not make it something you do all the time?