Another Monday is in the books and as your head hits the pillow the weight of self-defeat and frustration perceived failure crashes on you. Today was supposed to be “The Day!” You know, the one you promised yourself (while finishing off the last pint of ice cream) would be the day that life would change and you would invest in yourself 100%! But, let’s be honest! This morning, while sipping your cold brew, you reviewed your daily agenda and you knew that the chance of actually fitting in a workout had the same probability of you climbing Mt. Everest.
We are women and thanks to the genes passed on by our multi-tasking foremothers, we have the ability to talk on the phone, write an email, grocery shop, walk the dog, bathe a child, cook dinner and if we want, knit a sweater all at the same time. I have my clients run on a treadmill, answer emails and read a magazine at the same time which illustrates the fact that ability and performance are not the problem. It boils down to the struggle to put ourselves at the top of the agenda, invest in ourselves, and believe we deserve this spot of priority.
Life altering changes aren’t made overnight, they are made one decision at a time. Make the choice to prioritize yourself and your health. Use this list as a guide to implement an exercise routine that you can easily start and sustain. Put yourself at the top of your to-do list and invest in your health, daily.
WE DON’T FIND TIME. WE MAKE IT.
Listen friend, there aren’t very many of us who have extra minutes just floating around in our day. A girl can only dream of a world where her pedicure is always fresh, her gels aren’t chipped, her legs are alwayssmooth and she always has time for the gym. However, this is the real world, so sit down, pull out your calendar and schedule your workouts.
THE EARLY MORNING HUSTLE
Workout first thing in the morning! No matter what you choose to do, workout while your brain is fresh. The load of the day hasn’t fully come into view, there has been no time for excuses to build, and honestly, it’s kind of refreshing to just get it checked off the list and out of the way. If you need one more reason to work out first thing in the morning, several studies have shown that early morning exercisers are significantly happier than those who workout later in the day.
PLAN YOUR WORKOUTS
While this may feel complex, it is actually very simple and of the upmost importance. Your fitness routine should not be left to chance. Before you begin each week, sit down, map your workouts, identify the areas you’d like to target that week, and the amount of time you have available. (It doesn’t have to be fancy. I keep my weekly workout plan in a cheap composition notebook.) Make sure you keep your plan where you can see it because, sometimes, crossing out the workouts you complete can be motivating.
FIND A “FRIEND”
Find a fitness partner or “a friend” who supports and encourages you , but will also hold you accountable. The kind of friend that on those days where you have decided to skip the gym and just go “home,” (translation: hit the bakery) will threaten to take your keys, duct tape your hands behind your back, put you in her trunk and take you to the gym. Some would call this friend-napping, I just call it good, solid accountability. Pick a partner who, on your bad days, will remind you of your goals and on their bad days, you can do the same. Don’t pick a friend who will dive off the deep end & indulge with you when you are in a weak moment.
I cannot emphasize how important it is to be prepared. Set your clothes out the night before so when the alarm rings you are ready to go. If you are meeting up for a run in the morning or hitting the gym after work, pack your gym bag the night before and throw it in your car. We all know that something as simple as fumbling around to find clothes in the dark or having to run home to grab your gym bag is a huge temptation to cash in that coupon for a cancellation. No matter how determined you are, there are going to be days that you just don’t feel like giving your all. If you are prepared it leaves you without an excuse to quit on yourself.
We all dream of a perfect world where the day is planned and flawless, but life is real and so are our days. When life happens and your workout plans are completely wiped from the agenda, don’t throw in the towel. Take a few minutes, whatever you’ve got, and hit the main muscles of the body with movement. Pick a number and include each of the following, in a circuit, for three to four consecutive rounds: burpees, lunges, squats, push-ups and planks. These exercises target the larger muscle groups and give you more “bang for your buck” when you are pressed for time.
IT’S THE LITTLE THINGS IN LIFE
We like to believe that this “health stuff” is super complex, but it is really simple science – intake verses output. If our intake is sensible and our output is moderately intense, it will translate to weight loss. With that being said, we can’t ignore the fact that making little changes in your daily life can add up in a big way. Things like setting a daily step goal, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking a little farther away, or walking a few blocks on your lunch break can easily add up to a significant amount of calories burned over the course of a week.
SEEING IS BELIEVING
Let’s face it ladies, this isn’t our first voyage into the snail-paced adventure of health and fitness. The feeling is all too familiar for everyone of us. When we step onto that scale or take our daily glance into the mirror and convince ourselves nothing is happening. Nothing to celebrate here. The reflection is exactly the same today, so I will drown my defeat with a brownie the size of my face. Hold up, sister! Don’t go throwing yourself to the bottom of the mountain just yet. Seeing is believing. Measurements (like weight) are a good tool, but sometimes they prove to be a bit discouraging, especially if muscle gain is involved. The best way to track your progress is pictures. I know…the dread just surged through your body, but hear me out! The first set of pictures are always the hardest, especially the backside selfie. As you take these pictures every two weeks, rest assured that when you compare your first picture to your tenth, your mind will be blown.
This one is easy! What do you want out of this? Your goals might not match someone else’s and that’s okay (you get to be selfish) this is completely about you. It is important to set a variety of goals, some short term and easily achievable and others with a higher level of difficulty that are long term. Whether the goal is achieving twenty squats in a row, jogging to the end of your street, back squatting a hundred pounds or completing a 5K, they all deserve a super sweet victory dance and call for a “treat yourself” celebration (which leads us to our final, and my favorite tip.)
Simply stated, there has to be a prize for the pain, a reward for your hard work. Often a simple reward like a coffee from Starbucks or some bodywash from Lush will do. Other times it’s a larger reward is called for like a full body massage or a trip to Lululemon. A great way to set this in motion is to talk a look at your goals and assign a reward to a few of them or even all of them. Whether we like to admit it or not, the motivation will sky-rocket and we will hustle harder when our eyes are on the prize.
Aimee Hopkins is a certified personal trainer and fascial stretch therapist. She is a wife, girl mom, vintage boutique junkie and cold brew coffee lover with a passion for helping women achieve their fitness goals.