If you had asked me five years ago if I would ever finish a half marathon, I would have laughed. I would have told you I was once suspended for telling my PE teacher in high school that I did not need to exercise because I had the right to be fat. I would have told you the only time I run is when I am being chased. Flash forward to 2022, and I have finished 47 half marathons and 3 full marathons. How did I get there? Well, it wasn’t easy, but there are a few surefire tips to start exercising, too!
1. Set a Goal
Many people start working out to lose weight, and while that’s not the worst goal, that should not be your only goal. Setting goals based on how much you can lift, how far you can run, how fast you can complete a circuit, etc, help you create small, realistic goals that you can measure and see success on more quickly. At the beginning of your workout routine, you’ll want small, measurable goals to keep yourself motivated and to feel the success of your efforts.
2. Set a Schedule
Working out every single day is not realistic for most people who are just starting out. You’ll also likely be sore and need more rest days at the beginning, but predictability is good for sticking with a new routine! Maybe you start off with Tuesday, Thursday, and one weekend day. This way you’ve built in plenty of rest, and you know what to anticipate. You might need to play around with this at first and figure out how much rest you need in between workouts, but once you find that correct iteration, you’ll know.
3. Find an Accountability System
No matter how motivated you are, you’ll need some kind of system to help you stay accountable when your motivation is low. Are you working out with a buddy? Are you checking in at the studio so your followers know what you’re up to? Are you putting a dollar in a jar to work toward a fun trip every time you complete a workout? Whatever system works best for you, make sure you stay faithful to it. And when the system starts failing, don’t be afraid to find a new one!
4. Celebrate Your Wins
You deserve to be celebrated! Starting a workout routine is hard, and it shouldn’t be brushed off as something simple. Be proud of yourself! Take that selfie. Make that post. Write that diary entry. Buy that new outfit. Positively reinforcing your work will help keep you exercising. You don’t need to look a certain way or have hit all your goals before you celebrate yourself, either. If you were using 5 pound weights last week, and this week you switched to 8 pound weights, celebrate it! Each step toward your ultimate goal matters.
5. Talk About It
We all know that person who talks TOO much about that thing they’re into, and you definitely don’t need to be them. But, it is healthy and helpful to talk to your family and friends about your new workout routine. Talking about it will keep it top of mind, and you’ll be positively reinforced by your loved ones. You’ll also find that great advice exists within your networks. You might be a swimmer and your best friend might be a runner, but you’ll find there’s a lot of overlap between your training. And, it’s always great to be able to commiserate with someone when your workout doesn’t go the way you wanted.
6. Be Social
If you are starting your workout routine by attending fitness studios, try to be social. Talk to the instructor. Talk to the person at the next machine. Talk to the person checking you in. Feeling like you are a part of the environment will make your workout routine stick. If you are working out at home, find that online community that speaks to you! Does the class have a chat you can pipe up in? Does the studio have a social media presence you can follow? Take advantage of those opportunities to connect with others who are in the same situation as you.
7. Find Your Fam
Once you get more comfortable in your workout environment, you’ll find your people. Maybe it is the person you talked to on your first day or someone you brought with you because you loved the class. I am an introvert, but finding my run fam is how I got across all those finish lines. Sometimes they even physically pushed me across the line, and I will forever be thankful for that support. Finding the people in your workout spaces who get you and your goals on a more intrinsic level will make you want to come back and will help keep you motivated in that space.
8. Listen to Your Body
When you first start working out, it is so important to listen to your body. Minor aches and pains are a normal part of the muscle building process. However, acute pain is not. Make sure you listen to your body. If your schedule needs to get adjusted because you are having a rough week or a workout took more out of you than you thought, that’s not a failure! Sometimes you’ll simply be too tired to do another workout that week. That’s okay, too! It’s better to be healthy and resting than in pain and on forced rest! Remember that you are only human, and you will experience bumps in the road. That’s a part of the process.
The value of stretching cannot be overstated. Your body is doing really hard work building muscle, and that causes stiffness and aches. While that physical sensation is normal, you don’t have to simply live in discomfort. Stretching does not need to be limited to the workout space/time either. Maybe you work some light yoga into your rest days. Maybe you start every morning with specific stretches or make them a part of your nighttime routine. Whatever time works, please take care of your body by stretching. And don’t be surprised if you become that person that lets out a long sigh after stretching…it feels real good.
Affirm yourself. You ARE doing something incredibly awesome by starting to work out. You deserve to hear it! You are completely changing the way you interact with your world (mentally, emotionally, physically), and that is phenomenal. Find time to write down affirmations or save some great workout memes you can look at when you need a little extra motivation. Remember that workout fam you created? Tell them when you hit a goal, and savor in the love showered on you. You quite literally earned it.
Wanna know how to stay motivated while exercising? Have a look at our other blog posts!
One thought on “10 tips to start exercising”
Great tips! I always get nervous to make friends at the gym but I need to find my work out family.