Sometimes, the hardest part about reaching a fitness goal is getting started. Even if you’ve already ID’d the right workout program, you may keep finding reasons to push back your start date. If you can overcome any barriers to starting your fitness routine, sticking with it often presents a new challenge.
If you’re struggling with your new fitness routine, there are many strategies you can use to get back on the right track. Give these expert-backed tips a try.
DITCH THE “ALL-OR-NOTHING” MINDSET
No matter how motivated and well-meaning you are, you’re bound to have days where your workouts don’t go as planned. The key is not to let one missed workout — or even a week’s worth — derail you. Brush it off and get back to work.
“Fitness isn’t ‘all-in or all-out,’” says Lauren Kanski, a NASM-certified personal trainer and creator of the Body & Bell workout program on the Ladder app. “There’s a sweet middle ground where the magic and sustainable changes happen.” So long as you try to show up most days, you should see results over time.
WORK WITH THE TIME YOU’VE GOT
If you don’t typically have a free hour in your day to dedicate to exercise, it might not be a good idea to commit to a fitness routine that calls for hour-long workouts. Instead, choose a routine that fits your schedule.
Or, be ready to pivot on days when your planned workout just isn’t going to happen. Recognize that a shortened version of your workout or even a quick walk is much better than nothing. “Moreover, keeping your workouts bite-sized will help you show up more consistently on a daily basis, even when things get crazy,” says Callie Exas, a registered dietitian and NASM-certified personal trainer in New York City.
DO THINGS YOU LIKE
There are so many options for exercise; there’s no reason to force yourself to do activities you hate. Besides, you’ll only make it harder to stick with your exercise routine. If you hate spinning or running, “then don’t freaking do it,” Exas says. A better approach is to choose movements you enjoy and go from there, she adds.
MEET YOUR BODY WHERE IT’S AT
If you’re new to exercise — or a specific activity — be sure to ease into it. Trying to sprint 3 miles or lift weights bodybuilder-style as a total newbie only guarantees disappointment — and possibly even injury.
Instead of jumping into an intense routine, work at a level that’s manageable for you, and give your body time to learn new movement patterns. “By taking a more moderate, sustainable approach that includes rest days and functional movements, you’re more likely to be consistent with your routine and less likely to injure yourself,” Exas says.
Stick with it and keep building on your progress, and you’ll be ready to tackle more advanced goals in no time.
THINK LONG TERM
Can you imagine yourself doing your routine six months or even a year from now? If not, you may want to rethink it. Real, sustainable progress takes time. “Everyone needs to get out of the 10-day and four-week challenge mode,” Kanski says. Find a routine you can keep up for the long-haul.
GET BACK TO BASICS
It’s OK if you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the workout options out there or you’re not ready to commit to a fitness membership. There are other ways to get an effective workout. “People get so caught up in thinking an effective workout has to be an hour-long, with a 30-minute drive to the gym to lift iron under fluorescent lights,” Kanski says. In reality, daily activities like walking your dog, going up and down stairs, cleaning the house, and playing with your kids all count as exercise, she adds. How can you incorporate more of these kinds of activities into your day?
You can also start with a fundamental form of exercise: walking. “Walking is the most underrated form of cardio and weight-management that there is,” Kanski says.
Or, start by choosing one non-negotiable task you can commit to doing every day to help you reach your goal. It could be as simple as going for a 10-minute walk after dinner or waking up an hour early to journal before you start your day, Kanski says.
SHARE YOUR GOALS
Once you’ve committed to a new fitness routine, up your chances of success by keeping close friends and family in the loop. “We are the first people to let ourselves down, so get other people involved, so you have some accountability,” Kanski suggests. Ask reliable friends to check in from time to time, and offer to do the same for them.
Check out “Workout Routines” in the MyFitnessPal app to discover and log workouts or build your own with exercises that fit your goals.