Physical activity, exercise, training, working out… all things we know we should do often.
Maybe you feel like you go to the gym and go through the motions, counting down the minutes until you can go home and make dinner.
Maybe you know exercise is good for you but can’t figure out to make it stick.
You want to be consistent but have a hard time making yourself run on the treadmill no matter how great your playlist is.
Or, you aren’t currently exercising but you plan to do it….eventually?
Can you relate?
Regardless, you must know:
1) exercise is important for several reasons.
2) it can be so invigorating and fun that is becomes a habit.
Believe me, it will become a lifestyle once you figure out a couple of things.
I am going to teach you how to get excited about exercise to the point where it becomes a natural part of your daily routine.
But first, I want to give you a little bit of information about me and how I found a lifestyle involving consistent exercise (that doesn’t feel like working out!).
I remember having lots of “practice(s)” growing up.
Let’s go into my childhood mindset and see how I viewed all of the “practices” in my life:
Soccer practice: I loved it as long as I got to wear a pink jersey, it wasn’t cold and I could have dunkaroos afterward. It was a love-hate sport. I didn’t stick with it.
Toddler swim lessons: I hated them because the teacher was mean and my grandma’s pool was cold.
Swim team: I *loved* swim team because the country club had Krispy Kreme donuts in the snack shop I could eat afterward. I never missed a practice #motivatedbydonuts #kidsarefunny
Gymnastics: I loved the sport, wanted to get really good at it until injuries sucked and cheerleading became more appealing. Also, I hated conditioning. Squats jumps and rope climbing were my archenemies.
Competitive cheerleading practice: wanted to learn ALL the skills and tricks. I was an “eat, sleep, cheer” kinda girl. Yup. I said it.
Pole-Vaulting practice: This sport took advanced skill level, gymnastics and strength. I loved it and tried really hard to get good at it. It was cool because we did several other activities besides just pole-vaulting, (like rock climbing and deep end pool training) to get stronger and better.
Looking back I really had no affinity for soccer; I didn’t want to be good at dribbling, kicking or shooting the ball.
As for swimming, I knew at the early age of four years-old that it was not my cup of tea, telling my mom it was going to rain and the teacher couldn’t come before every practice at Grandma’s.
Anytime practice feels like a chore you are going to avoid going.
The thing is, I was always consistent with Gymnastics, Cheerleading and Pole-Vaulting.
They were all things I got amped about, sports I couldn’t stop thinking about and things that pushed me to get better and be better.
Attending practice was automated; it was second nature; practice was a necessary part of getting better.
It was my lifestyle.
Now flash forward to my adult life: I enjoy the StrongFirst kettlebell world of strength training and the sport of Powerlifting.
Both of these activities require lifting heavy things often.
Therefore I have a very consistent training schedule.
Some people might think I workout out a lot, but I consider myself to be like a passionate painter who paints often.
I show up to practice like the sun comes up every day.
So how did I shift from workout mode to practice mode?
I found some (kettlebell) skills I needed to learn that required practice.
Kettlebells are great exercise tools. They inspire sweat and cultivate strength.
If you have tried to use kettlebells in your training before, you know that they are tough to learn at first.
They require a certain skill level (to use them effectively, which is why have written about the importance of getting a coach time and time again!!!).
Either way, my point is that obtaining skills takes practice, right?
And when we like something enough to want to get good at it we practice day-in and day-out.
Obtaining the skills is our motivation.
I want to be more advanced at kettlebells and barbell lifts.
Being advanced means being stronger and getting stronger takes time.
I keep up my fitness regime and nutrition plan no matter what life throws at me (to the best of my ability) because it’s enjoyable and that makes the training fit into my lifestyle.
Not to say we all need to be in the gym every day and on an intensive program… but the question is… how does fitness become a habit?
[Exercise] It becomes a habit when you are focused on mastering a skill and the “exercise” becomes “practice.”
If you want to make fitness a lifestyle consider setting a goal that takes a skill which you must practice.
-learning how to climb a rope for strength
-learning how to be great at roller blading
-learning a chin-up (stay tuned for my article on “My road to 15 body-weight chin-ups” next week)
-Learning olympic lifts
-Learning how to powerlift
If your workouts feel like a chore you are going to work harder to avoid them than you will work on actually doing them when life gets crazy.
So how exactly do you make them fit into your lifestyle?
It isn’t as hard as you think; it takes a passion, a plan and a mindset shift.
See the lifestyle spectrum below (made by yours truly).
From the left side of the spectrum of an easy-going, vacation/chill vibes lifestyle to the right, a #turnt, bat-shit crazy lifestyle.
I think it is safe to say that people usually exercise most consistently in the vacation mode, chill vibes, regular routine areas.
**I am still unsure of the precise definition of #turnt but it feels appropriate to use in this scenario.
I feel that when normal lifestyle routines get #turnt and taken to a whole new level, one of two things happen:
1) You forget that the gym exists and even use lack of exercise/motivation to get off track with nutrition as well.
2) You use the gym to keep your sanity but get too intense and feel like a prisoner to the gym. You go no matter what for the sake of going. It is an unhealthy relationship.
After this article, #1 won’t happen when times get #turnt because your exercise will be built into your lifestyle. In in fact, things won’t feel as #turnt because our active lifestyle will keep you sane.
And, do you know anyone like that person #2 refers to?
I’m talking about the person who wakes up at 5 a.m. to workout no matter how late they stayed up, feels obligated to run 40 minutes or do the stairmaster for an hour and beats themselves up when the aforementioned doesn’t happen.
Whatever happened to a happy medium?
I have been the girl in the #2 scenario and let me tell you, it sucks!
I thought if I could control my exercise I would feel better about the other hectic things going on in my life.
And, while there is some truth to that (i.e. endorphins from exercise) I was taking it to extremes wherein many times sleep should have been prioritized.
Worse, I DIDN’T ENJOY WHAT I WAS DOING.
I wasn’t practicing skills, I wasn’t on a strategic program; I was spinning my wheels for the sake of sweating and “being in the gym;” and therefore I wasn’t doing anything measurable.
I was making myself go to the gym just to go; I didn’t love any part of it.
This article was written out of passion to help you not only find the happy medium, but figure out how to LOVE the happy medium and be ecstatic about your workouts (hint: make them “practices”)!
Once you read the three steps to stay consistent with exercise, you will understand how to keep doing it even when times become #turnt.
I want you to be able to find something you love to do (that involves skills to practice consistently) so you see progress, stay committed, stay active and expand your life in a fulfilling manner.
Here are three ways to be THRILLED with your training regime:
1) Pick an #activepassion
Kids are always learning.
What if we shifted our adult minds to an “always learning mindset?”
One of the best examples of having a constant learning mindset was my grandpa.
As an adult he picked up skiing, golf and tennis. For him, these were sports which he wanted to master.
Not a summer day went by that he didn’t practice his golf swing in the front yard. He would putt/drive into a trash can every day for at least a half hour after work.
In the winters he caught the first chairlift chair in Snowmass, joined an adult ski group and got educated about the ski gear and back country terrain.
For me, it has been getting as strong as I possible can.
I enjoy lifting weights for exercise because there are several skills to learn in order to lift.
First, I was introduced to kettlebell training.
As soon as I tried my first kettlebell swing and demonstrated the ugliest thing you’ve ever seen… I wanted to master them.
Before I knew it I was going to kettlebell class everyday in hopes to get a better kettlebell clean, master the swing, lift more weight and get as strong as the other impressively beastly people at the gym.
When you become focused on practicing new skills you shift your mindset towards *learning* en lieu of “working out” or calorie burn.
The cool part is that once you consider it a hobby you now have a hobby you passionately do everyday (or most days) that just happens to burn calories, inspire bone density and improve athleticism.
The other thing about learning a new skill set, which has most recently been powerlifitng for me, is that the focus and determination translates to fun and empowerment!
When you want something and have a fire in your heart burning to get it, the hard work part won’t feel so hard.
The 5 a.m. wake ups don’t feel so early.
When the actual work you do (whether it’s rope climbing, skiing, running, or lifting) get’s challenging and tests your strength, power, and ability it won’t feel hard or negative. It will feel tough at times, but it will be a “tough” feeling that challenges you in a positive way, a challenge to push through and conquer out of passion and fun.
With a new active passion there is another mindset benefit: Instead of worrying about exercising to burn calories “out” so that you can eat more calories “in,” the activity becomes a natural part of your routine and many people stop worrying about how much they are eating and how much more they can eat post “calorie burning session.”
When you are consistent with activity you can also be consistent with your diet, taking a more moderate and healthy approach to food.
For example, doing an hour kettlebell class may burn 350 calories (I just made that up for example purposes), but you don’t realize you are burning calories– just like you don’t realize you are burning calories when you spend a day re-decorating, having fun at a theme park or waterskiing.
Find some type of exercise or sport with progressions in which you want to get better!
Become a beginner, work on being advanced and not only will you have fun, but you’ll fit exercise into your lifestyle.
2) Find a group and practice
Groups are fun.
Watching Youtube videos and online tutorials can be very enlightening when it comes to learning something new, but nothing beats one-on-one interaction, coaching and interpersonal experience.
With how often we all spend time seated, behind a desk these days, it is crucial to get some interpersonal time making friends and building relationships during shared fun #activepassion time.
Besides benefiting your mental health, training in a group environment keeps you coming back.
Every morning I look forward to driving to the gym to see my friends and work on my practice.
For instance, I have trained at Achieve Fitness in Someville, MA for the past year. I have met some incredible people and made some great friends. Specifically I have a friend named Leigh, who trains all the same mornings as me; if one of us isn’t there, it’s a bummer!
My friend Georgia (who is insanely good at pull-ups) pushes me every time I am in the gym.
Same goes for Barry’s Bootcamp, so many bootcampers get excited to chit-chat with each other before class commiserate over the challenging sprints in-between rounds. They also cheer each other on during the sprints at end!
Having a group makes your active passion that much more invigorating.
Finding a group of people that share your “active passion” is what perpetuates the lifestyle.
When life is crazy and #turnt, you will have a group of people for support– people that can relate, share advice and friends to have fun with who can take you mind off of the negative.
Even better, those friends can cheer you on to hit your goals and all of the sudden that thing in your life that is really sucking seems like nothing; after you achieve a fitness goal you feel on top of the world and capable of anything.
If you are interested in group fitness classes there are *SO* many options these days. My favorite group classes are kettlebell class at Achieve Fitness in Boston, Cyc Fitness spinning classes at David Barton’s Gym, and HIIT treadmill/lifting class at Barry’s Bootcamp Boston. Message me for recommendations in Indy, Ohio, Chicago or Colorado!
Whether it is skiing, fishing, hiking, ice climbing, kettlebells or powerlifting you decide to pick up, try joining a group and meet some awesome people.
Then, start going to practice on the same days as your new friends go!
3) Add a performance factor
Many of you know I am a competitive person. I enjoy a good challenge and I like to push myself.
I work on setting specific bars for myself to hit; it pushes me to get better everyday at powerlifting.
Here’s me trying heavy chest presses with a slight pause (still needs a little work) to make the weight I have been working with feel more difficult.
Some people enjoy Tough Mudder races, other people do fitness certifications like the StrongFirst certification which have physical test components to the certification.
Try and find a performance aspect or skill to obtain within your new active passion to hold yourself accountable.
Here are some examples:
-being able to climb to the top of the rope twice in one training session at the end of two months
-going to run club and joining the faster pacers to prep for a 10k run in 6 weeks
-learning to play 18 holes
-learning the double kettlebell clean to add them into your workouts
Whether it’s some type of competition, game, match or test, make your new active passion goal oriented.
Have a bigger reason for practicing beyond simply learning the skill.
Push yourself within the passion to get better. It will be fun to watch yourself learn and excel.
Bottom line: find a skill you want to get better at and commit to practicing it because it’s enjoyable.
You will stay consistent when it’s fun.
You will stay consistent when in pursuit of something you care about.
You will stay consistent when their is a timeline or goal factor involved with your training.
You will stay consistent when life gets #turnt.
So, what is your active passion going to be? 🙂