Each and every January, we are inundated with the same refrains: “I need to detox!” “This is the year that I’ll finally begin fitness classes!” “I’m eschewing all forms of fat and carbs; bring on the requisite juice fast!” As well intentioned as these resolutions may be, I’m wary of anything that promises expedient “detoxing” or “cleansing” results, as it seems to suggest that our body is otherwise toxic and unclean. In a similar vein, it’s equally precarious to commit to an impossible fitness routine, one that involves running a daily 10K followed by a rigorous spinning class. Not only are these resolutions unrealistic, but they are unhealthy and suggest orthorexic tendencies.
Instead, I’m a proponent of a regular fitness routine, a moderate level of intensity, and one or two rest days a week. For the past year and a half, I have committed to a regular jogging routine of 2 miles, 5 days a week. Some weeks, if I’m feeling particularly stressed, I might run a longer distance; other weeks, I may favor a yoga class in place of a morning jog. Whatever I choose, I make sure to listen to my body, rather than committing to an ascetic schedule. I exercise because it makes me joyful, helps even my moods, and provides a constant in my hectic life.
This is why I exercise over 300 days a year:
1. I view exercise as part of my routine, rather than a heavy burden.
Treating fitness as a normal and natural part of your day–not unlike brushing your teeth and hair–is a crucial factor to maintaining consistency. For type-A people (myself included), who completely dedicate their whole selves to any given pursuit, this mental paradigm shift is necessary in order to form a consistent exercise schedule. For the habit to truly form, I had to rid my mind of any thoughts that would negate or challenge my intentions. Now, when I wake up in the morning, there is no question what I’ll be doing before I walk into the office. I value my time at the gym, just as I value a good book or a cup of tea. If you excise the thoughts that work to compare your physical activity to, say, watching a movie with a loved one, you’ll no longer by regretful or wishing you were somewhere else.
2. I exercise at the same time, on the same days, each week.
Some people prefer to exercise in the morning, others like to attend a class over the lunch hour, and still others enjoy an evening sweat session. Whichever time of day you choose, stick with it. As you begin to incorporate more exercise into your routine, your body will come to expect–even crave–exercise at a particular time of day. Just as we brush our teeth upon waking and before retiring to bed, we should incorporate exercise into our mornings, afternoons, or evenings, and maintain this schedule. Of course, life often presents us with extraordinary circumstances that make it impossible to get in a workout. When these times arise, simply recognize the fact that when whatever issue you’re facing passes (and it will, I promise), you will commence your normal schedule.
With these tips in mind, your fleeting resolution to lose five pounds or run a half marathon will evolve into a regular fitness practice. As with anything, practice in moderation, listen to your body, and, above all, remember to love yourself as you are!
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