“No matter your reason, pick one and run with it. Literally. To the gym.”
I get it. The majority of the time, I want to do absolutely nothing after work. I’m tired, my brain has shut down, and sitting on the couch watching Friends re-runs with a box of cookies sounds like the best plan in the world.
So how do I usually make it to the gym 5-6 days a week?
I work a full-time, 40 hours/week job. I try my best to cook most of my meals at home, complete all my adulting “chores”, etc. It’s not like I’m never strapped for time.
So I wanted to share how I managed to develop an after-work exercise habit, in the hopes that you also can see how to make daily exercise your “norm”!
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1. Identify your why
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: if you don’t have a clear reason why you want to exercise regularly, you just won’t stick to it. There are a lot of examples of this in our lives:
- I don’t always want to go to work, BUT I need the paycheck. And I would get fired if I just skipped haha.
- I don’t like taking out the trash, BUT I do it because I don’t want my apartment smelling gross.
- I don’t always want to walk my dog in the pouring rain, BUT I do it because the lady’s gotta pee.
You see? Even when I don’t want to do something, my “whys” keep me in check. If you’re someone who doesn’t really enjoy exercise or feels like it’s more of a chore, be ready with your reason when the couch is calling your name.
There are many reasons you may want to make an exercise habit. Here are some common and compelling ones:
- You want to lose weight and have a weight loss goal (maybe even a special event in mind)
- You’re training for a competition or race
- You know it will help you unwind after a long day
- You want to be healthy and feel better
- You want to make money with HealthyWage (shameless plug for this amazing company)
No matter your reason, pick one and run with it. Literally. To the gym.
2. Make a workout schedule
I’m a list person. If you’re anything like me, it may help to make a workout schedule. To do this, write out the days of the week and what you plan to do on those days. Whether it’s the amount of cardio, an ab workout, a workout class, or whether you’ll weight train upper or lower body, write it down and stick to it! This has helped me so much in the past because when my brain is already so fried from the day, I don’t want to put anymore thought into my workout.
Running calendar from mid-end October 2014 when training for a 6k race. I would write the mile goal in ahead of time and then edit with the exact distance and also typically the duration following the run.
3. Don’t give yourself an option
When I get home, I change, walk my dog, bring her back to my apartment, and head right for the gym. No dawdling. No thinking. I just do it. #nike
This is the best advice I can give you, especially in the beginning of forming your exercise habit. If you absolutely have to do something when you get home (for me, walking the dog), do it and then get to your workout. No wavering.
4. Just start moving
There have been so many times I don’t want to work out and convince myself to go by saying, “You only have to do a 20 minute super slow run and then we’ll call it a day.” And guess what? I often convince myself to do more than the goal I set.
Once I get moving, I usually feel better than expected. Then I can run more or get in the weight lifting/core exercises that I’d originally planned. Just start moving.
5. Plan for food
When developing an exercise habit, it’s always good to plan ahead for your roadblocks. After starting my current job, I quickly realized that I get hungry as soon as I get home. Then I can’t help but eat something and don’t really want to work out afterwards. To set myself up for success, I bring a granola bar with me to work and eat it when I leave. That way, with my drive and changing outfits and walking the dog, I’ve given myself a good hour to digest my food and don’t feel overly full or hungry when I hit the gym. You just have to find what works for you.
6. Plan for weather
Now I’m very lucky on this part. I have a gym in my apartment building, so rain or shine, hot or cold, I have somewhere comfortable to exercise.
If your primary place for exercise is, say, outside on the road or at a park, make sure you have a backup plan when the snow is two feet high or its 115 degrees. There are so many workout videos on YouTube now, and I’ve used some great free apps such as the Nike Training Club as well. Don’t let bad weather be an excuse. Just have an alternative!
7. Plan for clothes
Now I don’t necessarily mean lay your outfit out. But there have been times I’ve run out of clean shorts and truly don’t know what to wear. Everyone knows you feel better working out in an outfit you’re confident in – so plan ahead! Invest in enough exercise clothing and stay on top of your laundry. Then not having a clean sports bra won’t have a chance to be your excuse anymore!
I hope you find these tips helpful and they help you stay motivated to get your workout in. Forming an exercise habit, especially after work, can be really difficult to do. But I can’t imagine my life without it, and exercising at the end of the day is the best way I know to unwind. Let me know if you have any other tips to add in the comments below! And for more information on what makes up a good exercise regimen, check out my post The Basics of a Healthy Exercise Routine.