Fitness & Nutrition Tips

Ask a Coach Q & A: How Do I Start an Exercise Program & Stick with It?

Starting a New Exercise Program

Question: How do I start an exercise program & stick with it?

Answer: By Camille Priour, Fitness Intern

Solidify your goals

A blank slate can be both exciting and intimidating. Take a deep breath and acknowledge where you are right now and then decide where you want to go. Thoughtful time and energy can be a life-giving investment when you begin with the end in mind, considering honestly what moves you. On a core level, humans move in order to satisfy a need and explore the world. Identify the carrot dangling ahead of you and reach for it!

Plan ahead

Mentally prepare for what you are going to ask your body to do. Visualizing the path ahead prevents the mind from getting stuck when the body fatigues. Actualizing this plan will depend on realistic scheduling and commitment. Finding a coach, mentor, or trainer that aligns with your values and goals can facilitate the planning process as well.

Find accountability

Recruit a buddy or sign up for class in advance. Do something that connects your workout to your life and holds a firm place for that precious time dedicated to your program.

Raise the stakes

In the technology-filled world we live in, movement is often minimized and fitness becomes a luxury rather than a priority. But why else would we have a brain in our skull if it didn’t command our body to move?1 Internally, our lives depend on efficient movement through digestion, circulation, and detoxification. Externally, the only way we can actualize our ideas and intentions and impact the world around us is through movement, from completing a physical task to communication.

In other words, move like your life depends on it, because it does! Living the highest possible quality of life is at stake (while enjoying the perks of looking cute in those Lulus!). The sooner you can improve your movement and fitness, the better. You’ll feel so on top of the game if you don’t put it off until tomorrow.

Don’t be afraid to change it up

Consistency is an important component of progress, but humans are not machines with constant input-output returns. We plateau. We get bored. When this happens, we might need to refresh our palate with something new. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you hiccup in your plan a bit, because a little deviation can actually boost motivation.

Check out the graph below representing the brain as the body experiences something novel compared to the brai n as the body is experiencing something familiar. The brain’s reward system kicks into gear in anticipation of a new reward, giving us motivation to explore.2

brain-activity

So be intuitive when you get stuck. Self-exploration is completely valid, and trying something new can be beneficial. Keeping your workout fresh might just keep you sharp and ready to expand to your next edge!

Enjoy it!

How often do we trick our brains into thinking we are doing forced labor instead of exploring our limits voluntarily? As an adult, you are a free agent with the opportunity to create your own fitness journey, check points, and destinations. Embrace the sensations of freedom you can find within your workouts. Find an activity you enjoy doing, keep your eye on the prize, plan for the work, and indulge in the process.

Live it!

Last but not least, an ideal fitness program should begin to mold into an ongoing lifestyle. All this inspiration and willpower will only get you so far. Tangible results come through overcoming obstacles that come up in daily life, and persevering. As the saying goes, “If you want it you will find a way, if not you will find an excuse.”

So get out there! In the words of Mary Oliver:

“Tell me,
what is it you plan to do
with your one
wild and precious life?”

Sources:
1. Ted Talk- Wolpert, Daniel. “The Real Reason for Brains”. July 2011 http://www.ted.com/talks/daniel_wolpert_the_real_reason_for_brains?language=en
2. https://blog.bufferapp.com/novelty-and-the-brain-how-to-learn-more-and-improve-your-memory


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