Like many of us, lockdown was not kind to my fitness levels, weight or overall health.
I looked different in photos, I would quickly feel out of breath, I had no energy and regularly felt lethargic.
A stressful day job and constant access to food cupboards meant I had been emotionally eating my way to an unhealthier version of myself.
I missed feeling healthy. I missed being my best self. I knew I had to put work in to get the results I wanted.
Before I go on, I want to make a point of saying there’s nothing wrong with putting on/losing weight. The weight you are at your happiest and healthiest is the ideal weight for you.
I decided to look to YouTube for free workouts.
It took me roughly three minutes to find my first workout and after a month, I’ve found enough videos to fill an entire weekly playlist.
For reference, I mix aerobic exercises (cardio) with anaerobic exercises (weight training and calisthenics). The Mayo Clinic posted an article explaining that adults should include aerobic activity and strength training in our fitness plans for general health. Plus, this is the most efficient way I can cover all bases with my availability during the week. I exercise with dumbbells, resistance bands and bodyweight, but I’ll detail my routine in another post for you.
This all comes back to my ‘why’. I’m not trying to look a certain way. I’m not trying to champion the Instagram influencers who have flat abs and teardrop quads.
My sole aim is to feel good, alive and stay limber.
I want to stay physically-able for as long as possible, so moving my body is a no-brainer.
My 75-year old self will thank me for it.
How do I regularly workout and stick to my routine?
1. Make Your Exercise Routine Easy
I make it SO easy that not working out seems like the harder option.
I’ve created a YouTube playlist for 6 out of 7 days of the week, with each playlist containing a couple of videos.
Some playlists have more if I’m trialling a video for the first time, just in case I want to swap it out for something more familiar or intense.
This means the hassle of deciding what to do is completely taken out.
> Go to Youtube
> Go to the day’s playlist
> Press play
2. Use Multiple Shorter Workouts
The longest workout video on my playlist is just under half an hour.
I save multiple videos of shorter routines, rather than saving one l o n g workout to my daily playlist.
The psychological effect of seeing a 45-minute workout in my playlist means I’m much more likely to dread it and give up before I even begin.
It can seem like a long time to keep your willpower up, so I find breaking my routine into shorter videos means I don’t feel beaten before I’ve even started.
As an example:
Tuesday has a 15 minute upper body bodyweight workout to get my muscles warm and my heart rate up, a 15 minute intense upper body weights workout, and a 15 minute ab workout.
I don’t feel overwhelmed when I see the videos in the playlist because it looks manageable. For some reason, seeing three 15 minute workouts looks a whole lot more achievable than a single 45 minute workout.
3. Don’t Overcomplicate Workout Clothes
This might not resonate with the ‘insta-famous’ of our society, but I keep my workout clothes to a minimum.
Having too many clothing options produces decision fatigue.
You’re going to need as much willpower as you can muster to get through your workout, so don’t waste time deciding what to sweat in.
I have two sports bras, two pairs of shorts and two exercise tops. That’s it.
I bring myself to my exercise mat most days in order to sweat and feel alive, not to show off my latest trainers.
As long as I know I have one workout outfit in my drawer, I’m sorted.
Another point is that, contrary to what others say, I don’t actually lay my clothes out the night before and jump into them in the morning.
For some reason, that makes me not want to workout when I see my workout gear lying on the side. So I just keep it all tucked away until I’m ready to grab it and go.
The easiest way to commit to a habit is to make it easy, so do what works for you.
4. Don’t Beat Yourself Up
The amount of times I’ve previously given up on working out, purely because I missed a day or two.
Rather than having an ‘all or nothing’ approach to working out, treat it like you should treat everything else in your life:
Just because you have simplified every step that leads up to you working out, doesn’t mean you’ll have the availability and/or energy to follow through with it.
Whilst I fully believe in being disciplined, I personally have sought to learn the difference between when I’m being lazy versus when I genuinely need time to rest, recoup and relax.
If I miss a day, I miss a day. It’s not a big deal.
I just move the routine to the next day in my calendar.
If I miss Monday’s workout, I’ll move the slot to Tuesday and push the rest of the week’s routines out a day. It means I might be working out over the weekend but it’s only half an hour.
Equally, if I feel up to it, I’ll do two workouts in one day to catch up.
I do a lot of sitting during my working hours, so exercising hard on the days where I have more availability feels great.
Ultimately, the goal is to be self-acceptant. Psychology Today wrote that being kind and patient to and with yourself respectively are key skills in order to become your best self.
You’re much more likely to stick to a routine if you can acknowledge and accept your bad days and move on from them… without criticising yourself!
Put simply: if you want to stick to a workout routine and remain consistent, you need to make it easy.
Don’t over-complicate your routine, clothing or mindset.
Be flexible, and hopefully, in time, your body will be as flexible as your mind!
Good luck and get moving,
P.S Exciting news! You can now follow my blog with Bloglovin!