You want to be consistent with your workouts and stop the yo-yo exercise habit?
Girl, I got you…
Building consistency is a patience game. No one wakes up to a healthy and fit lifestyle; it’s something that is practiced and earned over a long period of time.
If you’re frustrated by your fitness results and the constant jumping-on-then-back-off the exercise bandwagon, learn how to build longevity and make this fitness thang a lifestyle by practicing these four rules.
#1 Respect your seasons
Instead of looking at exercise like this continuous, endless wheel where you have to give the same amount of time and effort 365 days a year 24/7, consider approaching it by life’s seasons. That means, evaluating where you are at currently, not next month or 5 years from now. Knowing this will dictate the intensity, modality, and duration of your training sessions and give you a baseline from which to build your programming.
Some questions I ask myself (and you can, too) to help me determine my current season are:
- How much time can I realistically dedicate to my own workouts?
- Am I in a high stress time or low stress time in my life?
- Am I pregnant/trying to get pregnant? (Answer: Hell nah.)
- Am I currently involved in a time-consuming project with my business?
- Are there any major changes going on in my life (i.e. moving cross country, getting married, breaking up, starting a business, getting a puppy, etc.)?
Don’t waste time with the wrong plan. Ask the right questions to determine your direction.
If a general strength training program requires 4 days of week of training but you can realistically only put in 3 days of work, that program isn’t right for you right now.
Seasons, baby. Know, embrace, and respect the seasons of your life.
#2 Know thyself
This rule requires self-awareness and it will look different for everyone, but knowing who you are, what you want, and what you’re willing or unwilling to do is a key factor in creating consistency and longevity.
For example, if you hate running, don’t pick that to be your main form of exercise. Yes, you may eventually love it, but is it worth the stress of forcing yourself to do something you loathe? Probably not, especially at the start of building a consistent habit.
After working with hundreds of women, I’ve learned that there are two major factors to think about when choosing the plan, program, trainer, or training style for you.
Are you the type that uses exercise as a stress management tool or does fitting in exercise stress you out?
I know someone in a high-stress job that really struggles to show up to the gym to train for just 60 minutes. My recommendation for someone like that is to lift full-body 2x a week and then reserve other exercise time for things like walking or yoga. It may not be the ideal situation but if you’re mentally stressed and exhausted, use exercise modalities that help you manage that stress instead of adding to it.
This goes back to respecting seasons in your life. In order to build consistency and longevity, you have to make exercise work around your life, not the other way around.
When it comes to exercise, knowing your personality tendency, as Gretchen Rubin calls it, goes a long way in picking a plan that works for you. This might change during your seasons, but it’s helpful to know.
Your personality helps guide expectations and habit formation. If you’re someone that requires accountability, then following a program on your own might set you up to fail. Instead, you can invest your resources on the trainer/class/workout partner that will help build up consistency, and ultimately, longevity.
#3 Never stop learning
Making fitness a lifestyle requires learning something new along the way. You don’t have to get a certification, read bodybuilding magazines, or pick up one exercise science textbook.
But you do need to make better choices about who you follow online for fitness advice, and implement scientifically-backed ideas throughout your fitness journey. That means, stop Googling “best leg exercises” for the millionth time and unfollow your Insta-famous “trainers” for workout advice.
Learn from reputable trainers and coaches instead. Take on different athletic pursuits, try a different modality, and ask better questions than “What exercises should I do for [insert body part]”. There are a number of ways to keep learning without making it a chore like:
- join a Facebook group with like-minded people
- Work with a variety of instructors and trainers
- Listen to podcasts
- Heck…read a book!
- Try something new
It’s so easy to get our heads stuck in the sand with one training style or method, but if you keep an open mind and chase knowledge, your trajectory will always be one of continuous improvement.
#4 Set the bar higher
Ask yourself this: When was the last time you set a goal for yourself that had nothing to do with your appearance? If you can’t remember, then it’s time to reevaluate.
Now, I’m not hating on aesthetic goals because looking good is a damn good goal to have! But it breaks my heart when women are constantly chasing a “look” because it usually means they’re out to fix something they dislike about their bodies. It’s a vicious cycle!
Stop selling yourself short. Step out of your aesthetics box for a moment and ask:
What do I want to achieve?
What feats of strength have I yet to master?
What experiences do I want to have?Exercise should enhance the quality of your life and open up doors for new experiences and adventures. That’s a hard thing to do if the only thing you’re concerned with is the size of your thighs.
When I talk to my coach about my goals I focus on performance or skills first, and then express my aesthetics goals second. The conversation usually goes something like this
Coach: What’s your goal?
Me: I want to do get 10 pull-ups and turn this ass into a national monument.
Coach: Cool. Let’s go.
Shift your perspective when it comes to goal setting and aim for something higher than just how much you weigh.