The kids are back in school. The days are getting cooler and shorter, and summer vacations are a sweet memory. Perhaps your return to a familiar early autumn routine has you reminiscing on the fitness goals you were so committed to before the summer came along and sabotaged your sense of normalcy. If you’re feeling overwhelmed at the thought of picking up where you left off, you are not alone. Here are a few tips that may help you rekindle your fitness flames after a long summer off the workout wagon:
Get organized. The work week can be hectic. Monday morning arrives and it’s off to the races. Set yourself up for exercise success by creating a prep routine. Use Saturday and Sunday afternoons to launder all of your workout clothes and purchase/prepare healthy eating options for the week. Each evening before you ease into leisure mode, get your workout gear ready for the next day. Lay out your clothes or pack your gym bag. Get your water bottle and your post-workout snack or meal ready. Make a motivating playlist that you can look forward to. Write yourself a brief note about your workout goal(s), and set it on top of your clothes or gym bag. Your note could say something like “go to pilates class at 9 a.m.” or “walk/jog for at least 30 minutes.” The act of setting a goal AND writing it down makes you more likely to achieve success.
Prioritize. Loads of people, ideas and obligations vie for your attention at any given moment. If you don’t take the time to intentionally decide what is most important, you may arrive at the end of your day feeling as if you’ve been spinning your wheels and going nowhere. At the start of each day, sit down with your coffee or breakfast and make a list of all of the things you would like to accomplish before you lay your head down at night. Avoid putting things on the list you know you won’t get to, and don’t write something down just because you think you should. If it isn’t important to you for one reason or another, it doesn’t make the list.
Keep a calendar. If exercise is on your list of priorities (and I’m assuming it is or you wouldn’t be reading this), put it on your calendar along with all of the other things you consider important. Then, don’t bail out! If you have a tendency to allow other things get in the way of your workout, book your workout first thing in the morning so you can check it off the list and move on to your other priorities.
Invest and commit. If you’re having trouble making the leap from wanting to exercise regularly to actually doing it, commit to a personal trainer or invest in a gym membership. Sometimes all it takes to generate a little follow-through is the knowledge that someone is waiting on you to show up or the investment of some of your disposable income.
Be realistic about time management. It’s really easy to decide that we’re way too busy for exercise. In fact, not having enough time is the number one reason people list for not exercising. But if we take a close look at how we manage our time, most of us can find 30-60 minutes each day. Assuming you get eight hours of sleep every night, one hour makes up 6% of your day. Thirty minutes makes up 3% of your day. Three percent! Most of us devote more than that to social media or watching television each day. See if you can trade in some of your screen time for sweat time, and chances are you won’t regret it.
Kendra Rorabaugh is manager of the Prisma Health Life Center.