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When we find ourselves fully engulfed in the throws of summer, our days are occupied with when vacation starts, who is going to make dinner on the BBQ and whether we’d like to take the paddle board or the kayak out for a mid-day adventure. We might not be as concerned about completing our workouts and drinking enough water.
But this is exactly why most of us struggle to make a consistently do-able workout routine month after month: We slip into vacation mode so darn easily.
Thinking about food, exercise and how many steps we’ve taken each day can be like a full time job which is why following a plan for two weeks or 21 days is super enticing for most people. You mean I only have to think about this stuff for three weeks?! I’m in. Or at something along the lines of; I can handle anything for three weeks.
But the challenge is that making our exercise habits out to feel like a full time job further supports our desire to take a vacation from them! Think about it this way: Most people live for vacation, right? It is the best feeling ever to leave the office on our final day of work before vacation when we’re just jonesing for a break. If we continue to approach our exercise habits the same way, we will inevitably find ourselves looking for that break we feel we deserve.
Instead, this summer I encourage you to adopt the #consistencymindset. I don’t want you to be in obsession mode every day, and I don’t want your exercising habits to be a full time job all summer, but I do want you to create a few daily non-negotiable habits. Habits that happen if you are hungover or full of beans, if you are in the office or at the beach.
We will only be successful over the long term (read: the summer months!) if we learn how to stop making regular exercise feel like a job we want to escape from. The most important tenet of getting consistent with our workouts is learning how to execute when the conditions are not ideal. At the cabin without equipment? We can work with that. Exhausted after a long day at the office? How about a walk on the river rather than three beers on a patio.
We’ve also got to get to the bottom of our obsession with being perfect and doing more, more, more. This is not a sustainable way of operating. Rather than saying ‘I am going to workout every day this week’ say ‘I am going to workout on four of the seven days this week’. Rather than saying ‘I need to be in the gym for one hour for my workout to count’ say ‘I am going to get 20 minutes of intense activity in no matter where I am’.
If you are like me and you’ve struggled with perfectionism or feelings of not doing enough, then this post is for you. The truth is that you do not need hour long workouts and an every-single-day sweat schedule to see awesome results. If you struggle with consistency, you don’t need more tips on how to get your workouts in, you need to think about how you approach exercise differently. Now that we’ve discussed a couple reasons why it’s so tough to be consistent over the summer, let’s get to the bottom of what we can do about it!
It starts out from an innocent place. We want to get fitter or see decent results in the body composition change department. So we take on a fitness challenge of sorts (I’ve done many of these!). We’re super motivated and we often bite off more than we can chew in the exercise department. Yes, I can spend two hours a day on exercise. Sure, I can do five strength workouts in one week.
Chances are good that you’ve done the same, and this is absolutely not about getting down on yourself for being motivated and excited about a new change you’re making in your life. But this is about examining what your tendencies are as the workout challenge progresses. Do you see your two hour workouts through to the end? Do you enjoy completing workouts every day of the week? And most importantly, are you able to continue this pace for months on end based on your lifestyle (job, family commitments, travel)?
I spent many years taking on all sorts of exercise commitments and never seeing them to fruition. I had to take a long look in the mental mirror and get honest with what I could reasonably do for months and years at a time, not weeks at a time, and that is when I noticed real change.
Now I know that the more intense the exercise schedule I take on, the more I’ll eventually need a break from it. This doesn’t mean I won’t take on challenges or train for a gruelling event, but I am not willing to do those things if it screws with my consistency habits. It’s just not worth it to me at this point in my life. I’m not all-in with workouts, but I’m never in nothing mode either! Adopting this way of thinking means that I’m always doing something, but never wanting to escape from my routine.
It took me a few years to really understand and embrace the fact that most of my all-or-nothing thinking stemmed from not-good-enough thoughts. I thought that if I was fitter, I would obviously be a better trainer. If I had less body fat, then my husband would totally be more attracted to me. Now I can see how silly those ego-driven thoughts were. I am a better trainer when I read a lot, listen well and stay up to date on tools that will help my clients. I am more attractive to my husband when I am honest, present and supportive. For real.
This doesn’t mean that every endeavour to change our body composition comes from a place of feeling not-good-enough, but it certainly can. There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to see muscle definition or to feel strong, but there is something very wrong with thinking that we will be more lovable, accepted and respected if we look a certain way (because we won’t we more lovable, accepted or respected until we change how we treat ourselves).
The best way for me to cure myself of needing to look a certain way to feel good enough was to continually acknowledge everything I brought to my job and my relationship that were not tied to the way I looked. I reminded myself daily of the non-physical value I could offer and then I gradually stopped thinking so much about how I appeared physically.
When we let go of our urgency to look a certain way, we can do a better job of being more consistent with exercise. Its’s less ‘I have to do this workout challenge or I won’t be able to stand the way I look’ and more ‘I am going to workout four times a week because I love what I’m doing and it feels so good’.
The biggest secret to creating a consistent workout routine is spending more time on the workouts that make a difference and less time on the workouts that just have you going through the motions. I’m talking big muscle group exercises, calorie-torching strength workouts, and exercises that help you to achieve breathlessness and burning muscles. That’s the sweet spot. I’m also talking about long, slow outdoor walks that not only help you to recover physically, but will help you to de-stress mentally, a key component of seeing results from your workout schedule.
I am more likely to lift weights and do cardio intervals because I know this helps me to get more bang for my buck in terms of exercise. I spend less overall time working out and I still see muscle definition. I’ll choose yoga or walking outdoors for my active recovery sessions because I know they help me to deal with mental stress and I am a much better human to my family and friends when I do them regularly!
My answer to finding consistency is always to focus on the big rocks, the dial shifters and the things that give me the most bang for my exercise-and-nutrition-decision buck. I have also been able to be consistent when I try to create a schedule that I don’t want a break from!
I’ll be sending out a ton of do anywhere workouts to my mailing list this summer, join us below.