Hi. I’m Carolyn. I’m the editor in chief of SELF and the host of our wellness advice podcast, Checking In. In this week’s episode, we’re talking about how to create a workout routine (that you actually stick to), and what tools may help make exercise a lifelong habit.
Today’s question comes from Monica. She says she knows she should develop a fitness and exercise routine—but she just can't find the motivation to get started. “I literally have everything,” Monica says. “My sister-in-law gave us a stationary bike. I have a treadmill. My daughter was into ballet, so I bought her a ballet bar...I have a stability ball...I just haven't had the motivation, or honestly, it almost feels like even the desire to work out.” Monica wants to reap the mental and physical health benefits of exercise, but she’s having trouble turning that desire into an actual workout routine.
New episodes of Checking In come out every Monday. Listen to this week’s episode above, and get more episodes of Checking In on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google, or wherever you listen to podcasts.
A lot of people, myself included, can relate to Monica’s question. Even as the editor in chief of a health and fitness magazine, I struggle enormously with working out on any regular basis at all. I know it’s good for me. I have all the stuff I need. And I just can’t bring myself to do it.
For this episode, I spoke with Amy Eisinger, SELF’s digital director. Amy is a certified trainer and has written a lot about fitness and motivation. “We want fitness to be a lifelong practice that grows with you, that changes with you," she says. "In the same way that the food you consume changes, where you live changes. And that's kind of how I look at fitness.”
Amy also says that motivation isn’t necessarily the best framework to use when thinking about building a workout routine. Instead, she likes to think about developing habits. If something is a habit, it doesn’t matter much if you feel like doing it or not. It becomes an act like brushing your teeth or making breakfast—it’s just something you do.
“It’s kind of like moods,” Amy says. “You have days where you feel like you're on point and really crushing it. And then you have days where you're like, I just need to get through the day. Your workouts can be like that too. You can have workouts where you feel like you pushed yourself to that next level. And then you have days where you're like, I just want to get through it. And that's where the habit comes in.”
Another huge point that Amy makes that really resonates with me is that your workouts don’t all need to be intense and extreme. Any kind of movement counts, even if it’s a leisurely stroll—or just lying on your back on the yoga mat, breathing. The key, again, is to think of it as habit building.
In the second half of the episode, Amy talks to pole dancing fitness instructor and trainer, Roz “The Diva” Mays, about another really important component of incorporating fitness into your life: finding a workout you love.
“You've got to put a lot of effort into enjoyment,” Roz says. “When's the last time you said somebody had to force themselves onto an ice cream sundae? No. People usually like ice cream sundaes because they're tasty and fun.”
Roz and Amy talk about how finding the right workout for you can be like dating. “You’re going to have to go through and kiss a lot of frogs before you end up with your prince or princess,” Roz says.
For Roz, that princess charming was pole: “Pole was so important to my gym-rat hood because it was just plain fun. It's been the most fun failing I've ever had—pole dancing is about 90 percent failure. Every time you go to class, you're going to see some cool things. You're going to fail at 90 percent of what you try and then you'll have about nine percent that is dedicated to shoes and outfits and lots of glitter and pole and crafting the perfect playlist. And then one percent of the time you actually do what you think you're going to do.”
Roz and Amy also agree that it’s important to incorporate easy workouts into your fitness repertoire as well. And it’s also really important to go easy on yourself in general, and not beat yourself up if you don’t live up to your own goals. Remember: We’re still living with the day-to-day stress of a global pandemic.
“Every single day we're dealing with more stress” Amy says. “At this point, you're dealing with it probably a little bit subconsciously because you think you've gotten used to it, but you haven't gotten used to it. And so if you can work out 15 minutes every day...If I were your trainer, I would be proud of you. And I think more importantly, you should be proud of yourself.”
Amy Eisinger, SELF’s Digital Director, is an A.C.E.-certified personal trainer, PROnatal prenatal and postpartum specialist, and the host of Sweat With SELF workout videos. You can follow Amy on Instagram, and read more of her work for SELF here.
If you’re looking for ideas for new workouts to try, here are some suggestions worth checking out:
Apps and At-Home Fitness Options
And some more workouts from SELF
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Originally Appeared on SELF