I’ve only been working out hardcore for two years, but it’s been an eventful 2 years. Even before that, I was doing other exercises that were steadily helping build me up – I took a swimming class, a Zumba class, a spinning class, and tried to hike the Y. And then after I graduated college, I had more time on my hands, and so I dove into working out and eventually knocked out a couple of marathons.
In that time, I’ve noticed friends who talk about how they need to exercise and hate exercise, but know that they should. Exercise can be so hard to develop as a habit.
So, here’s my advice:
Find something you like and can do.
There are a lot of great options out there and it doesn’t matter which one you choose, just as long as you start moving.
Do you like the elliptical machine? There is NO SHAME in that. Go for it. Do you enjoy running? Awesome, so do I. My secret is running slow.
Hiking is awesome, too. Are you interested in lifting weights? Sweet – ask someone for help on your form or Google some lifts to do that don’t require a spotter. (Please don’t injure yourself.)
It’s okay if you don’t like running. Even people who run all the time hate it. It matters more that you find something that you enjoy – or at least you don’t hate life TOO much while you’re doing it.
That’s the number one advice I have, but here are some other important things to remember:
Go slow and don’t worry about being “correct.”
Don’t worry about doing it absolutely right the first time. At this point, form doesn’t matter as much. It matters if you’re lifting obscenely heavy weights, but if you’re just getting into a routine, you should lift smaller first anyway. THERE IS NO SHAME IN USING THE 2.5 POUND DUMBBELLS.
Find a reward at the end.
I personally have used different rewards as motivation, such as a tasty treat or a long, warm shower. Eventually I get to the point where the benefits of exercise are the reward itself, but if I fall out of the habit of exercise, that’s what I do to re-incentivize myself.
And finally, keep going.
Try to do something small each day, whether you walk for 30 minutes or run a mile or do the elliptical machine for 20 minutes. I’m not big into FitBit, but I have Google Fit on my phone (it’s free!) and I have a daily goal of reaching 1 hour of activity. ANYTHING counts – walking, running, yoga, rock climbing, hiking, you name it, it’s probably on Google Fit.
(Seriously – they have paragliding on there. It totally counts.)
Mostly I walk. Every hour at work I go for a walk, and those 10-minute breaks add up throughout the day. It makes a huge difference.