You’ve probably heard the term, “set yourself up for success.” I know I don’t always apply this to my exercise, but I should. Years ago, when I was studying for my personal training certification, I was surprised at how much time the textbook spent explaining this. Before you even begin a new exercise regimen, there are things you can do to prepare yourself for success.
1. Know Your Why
If you know WHY you are exercising, you can always refer to those motives when you feel like giving up. A strong motive will last for the long haul, rather than starting a regimen on a whim. Take a moment to write your motives down. Tape them on your mirror or keep them in your wallet. Exercise is more than an opportunity for physical refinement, but also an opportunity for growing character.
“Discipline is choosing between what you want now, and what you want most.”
2. Set Goals
I LOVE setting goals. Even if I don’t reach them, I feel like I’m going towards a specific point, and I like that sense of purpose. I’ll be real with you, I have had a goal of running a 5k straight for years! I still haven’t done it! It can be discouraging to look at my “lack” of achievement in my goals. It can make me want to stop trying. What if we didn’t use our achievements as a measure of our success in fitness? Rather, let’s insist on persistence, rather than an end all goal!
“Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.”
– Winston Churchill
3. Have a Plan
Statistically speaking, you are more likely to achieve a goal if you have a plan on how to get there. In the same manner of speaking, you are more likely to get to your destination if you have a map. Given this, let’s make our plans in pencil, keeping in mind that there is more than one way to get to a destination. There are some days that my plans just don’t work out. I don’t wake up early enough or my baby girl doesn’t want to take her naps. These days happen, it’s just a part of life. When these days happen, don’t throw in the towel! Have a backup plan for these days. It doesn’t have to be as intense or glamorous of a workout, but it’s something. My go to back up plan is taking baby girl for a long walk and doing some crunches and squats in her room while she plays.
I’m so guilty of not doing this enough! Stretching is important to prevent injury, and improve flexibility and posture. It’s also a relaxing time for a busy person! Taking a few minutes to stretch and take deep breaths increases our oxygen levels. This is proven to improve mood and overall well-being.
5. Stay Hydrated
I think most people have heard this one, but don’t necessarily do it. I don’t drink enough water! I personally have a hard time with this one. Find whatever works for you. Sometimes I’m more likely to drink enough water if I jazz it up with some cucumber or fresh fruit. We have a infusing pitcher that we take all around the house with us.
This can be a touchy subject, but consider if you’re fueling your body for success. I don’t advocate for any “absolute” diet, but rather being conscious and aspiring to maintain balance. It’s possible that if you’re dragging or lacking energy, it is your body telling you that it is lacking nutrients. I can’t tell you exactly what this looks like for you, but it’s something to consider.
7. Find a Friend
I hear this one all the time! Do you want to know a secret? In my own head, I thought that I was the exception. I’m strong and independent and don’t need anyone! I think at the same time, I was also afraid of failing to accountability. It’s a double edge sword all fueled by pride. Anyway, I do have an AMAZING network of support now. I think the key is finding gracious people who can tell you the truth in love. It’s true though, you are much more likely to succeed when you have someone partnering with you!
I can hear all the parents laughing at this one, and I totally understand! I don’t remember the last time i slept the recommend 8 hours. It does make a difference! Occasionally, I’ll take a nap during baby girl’s nap time or my sweet husband will let me sleep in. I can completely tell a difference in my energy on those days! I’m not trying to shame you into getting more sleep. If anything, cut yourself some slack if you aren’t getting enough sleep! And also, do your best to get some sleep, it’s good for you!
9. Enjoy Yourself
Exercise by doing something you enjoy and care about! To be fair, I don’t think there’s any form of exercise with which you will ALWAYS experience pure bliss. In any endeavor, there will be tough plateaus to push through. Those plateaus are easier to push through when, deep down, you care about what you are doing. Your goals and motives can play a big role in deciding what this looks like for you.
“No are so old as those who have outlived enthusiasm.” – Henry David Thoreau
10. Measuring Success
Before you even begin, decide what success looks like to you. I could maybe, possibly, be accused of being a LITTLE competitive (wink, wink). While being competitive has its place, that place is not in how I measure myself. I can be tempted to feel bad about my goal of running a 5k when I have a gorgeous friend who runs marathons. However, my running a 5k and her running a marathon have nothing to do with each other! They are each an accomplishment in their own right. If I’m busy comparing my 5k to her marathon, then I lose the opportunity to be sincerely happy for a friend who has worked hard. A friend whom I love and want to see succeed. I talk more about this in a post called, “Why Exercise Does NOT Matter.”
“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow-man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.” – Ernest Hemingway