Many of us possess a love-hate relationship with exercise; It releases endorphins that make us feel good and accomplished after every workout, but waiting for the motivation to do so remains a challenge and we end up exercising less than what we should.
A few months ago, Circuit Breaker measures put a temporary halt to all gyms, fitness classes, swimming pools, as well as public fitness corners to counteract Covid-19. Control measures were also put into effect for beaches and parks. Though dispirited, YouTube, our saving grace allowed many of us to transition to working out in the comfort of our own homes almost seamlessly. With the convenience of online workouts readily available, many of us have stepped things up.
Three months post-reopening, how many of us are keeping up with our fitness regime?
I have been fairly active since I was younger – always drawn to sports CCAs, I go to fitness classes, and try to go to the gym often. However, I still experience my share of highs and lows with regards to fitness motivation. And oftentimes, I would rather lay in bed or busy myself with unimportant things, than to put on my exercise gear and work up a sweat.
An athlete friend recently told me “You need to make exercise part of your lifestyle, like eating and showering.” and with that, I began my quest to make working out a priority. Here are six ways which have helped me get closer to my goal, and hopefully fulfil yours too.
#1 Find an activity that you truly enjoy.
Contrary to popular belief, working out CAN be fun! The term ‘exercise’ goes way beyond just running and working out at conventional gyms nowadays.
Accessible sports facilities and classes like piloxing, HIIT training and zumba organised by the Health Promotion Board makes experimenting with different types of workouts much easier and more affordable. There are many boutique studios that offer promotional rates for first-timers from time to time too.
#2 Start (very) small.
Credit: James Clear
Like every other new year’s resolution, it is bound for failure if you treat your exercise routine like a sprint, rather than a marathon.
After a hiatus when my fitness level is at its all-time-low, I start off extremely easy and try not to harbour any expectations of what I can accomplish. This tricks my mind into thinking that working out is really not all that hard!
I try to intensify my workout slowly, eg. holding my plank for another 10 seconds, prolonging my jog by five minutes, doing an extra rep – but also keep it at a manageable range. Small changes like this turn into a habit easier because they do not intimidate, yet help to bring your fitness to the next level.
#3 Set a schedule and commit to it.
For exercise to become my new normal, I knew I first had to be ready to be in it for the long haul.
And again, you definitely do not need to start with working out five days a week or go to the gym – it is mentally tormenting and unsustainable even for people who generally do work out. Also, the type of exercise should not be of prime concern at this stage – what matters is consistency. Remember: The most effective type of exercise is the kind you actually do.
Firstly, It is more crucial to not miss your workouts, regardless of how often you plan to do so, than the intensity and progress.
Schedule your exercise time and physically put it in your calendar like an appointment, so you make time rather than find time for it. Keep to the same days and timings every week to set up a routine, whether it is working out at the gym or at home.
Tip 1: Put on work out clothes first thing in the morning to set your intention to execute your exercise for the day.
Tip 2: Set an alarm days or hours in advance to remind yourself of your ‘appointment’. Make sure your alarm rings!
#4 Track your progress.
I use the app RunKeeper (Google Play, Appstore) to monitor the speed of my runs. Settings can be made to deliver voice cues of your stats like elapsed time, distance, current pace, average speed, heart rate, etc, at your preferred time interval while on your run. I usually ensure that I keep within a similar pace as what I previously recorded.
The ‘Set Goal’ function assists in planning goals for weight loss, unlocking new distance and time challenges. My level of fitness fluctuates but keeping a record helps me to keep within range and improve on my stamina.
If you are more aesthetically motivated, another easy way to track your progress is to take ‘progress’ photos. Do not let the media fool you to expect visible progress after just 1 work out session. It takes at least four weeks to see any tangible changes in your body.
Image by Kristina Rodulfo via Elle.com
As long as you are consistent, progress will be evident in your run logs and photos. This is your cue to keep going!
#5 Find yourself a workout buddy.
We are only human and there are times when I feel extreme laziness and just want to skip my workout. But the thought of disappointing my friend forces me out of the house and I end up clocking a really good workout anyway.
Working out with a friend keeps us more motivated and it is also a good social outlet to reduce stress while exercising together!
#6 Have a ‘back-up’ workout prepared.
I reserve some easy, fuss-free exercises for last minute home workouts if I only have a 20-30minute time window. This saves a lot of time (especially when you are already pressed for it), effort and brain cells without having to decide how to fully maximise your 30mins.
One of my go-to’s is a 20min skipping exercise and a stretch – A simple and convenient way to break a sweat!
Many of us struggle to make exercise a priority and are continually stuck in this whirlpool waiting for ‘motivation’ to come. However, this motivation never comes! Do think of it as a commitment and maintain discipline to cultivate this healthy habit.
Hopefully these tips and tricks help in your journey to become a fitter, healthier you. We are all in this together!
This article is brought to you by Hazel, an undergraduate from University of Newcastle Australia who is currently interning at SNCF (August to November 2020). She is an earl grey enthusiast, caffeine addict, avid reader and passionate about all things health and lifestyle related.