When it comes to embarking on and sticking with an exercise routine, we always tend to hear the word "willpower" bandied about. Fitness experts sometimes dole out the tough love, challenging us to suck it up, to not make excuses — no pain, no gain. But at the end of the day, it really can be tricky to get all our work done, do household chores, run errands and still, somehow, carve out time to do some serious calorie burning.
It can also be very demoralizing to find ourselves staring at something that we know is impossible for us to do, such as a fitness model executing a perfect sideways plank — holding all their weight on one arm. As if. But once you find a routine with which you feel comfortable, you may still need a little extra incentive to help keep you on track.
First, try to walk more. If you drive, park farther away from everywhere you go. If you take public transportation get out a stop or two before your usual. And put those apps and trackers to good use. Whether it's a cheap old pedometer, a Fitbit or your state-of-the-art app on your super-duper iPhone, count those steps and aim for a range of between 7,000 and 10,000 a day, working your way up to a higher count if and when you're ready.
Second, don't try to do too much too soon. Yes, it's great if you can do 30 to 45 minutes of exercise every day, but you may not be able to. Start slowly and work up to a realistic schedule. If you can only do three times a week, don't give it up because you think it's not enough. So what if it might take you a little longer to reach your goals. You'll get there, and will be likelier to stay there, too.
Third, consider all the ways your body and mind benefit from exercise. Try not to make it only about the weight loss. If you consider the weight loss an added bonus, then you'll take some of the pressure off — and perhaps lessen the guilt you may feel on days when you have to skip your workout. We're not kidding when we tell you that a slight shift in focus can make all the difference in sticking with a healthier lifestyle routine.
So how else does exercise benefit your body and mind? Check it out.