We always see people jogging along the road or determined walkers getting their daily walks in, and many of us wonder how they got started in their exercise routines and especially, how they stick to their goals. Everyone’s busy, and often, trying to fit an hour or more of exercise into an already packed day simply seems impossible. Additionally, with so many exercise plans, programs, and equipment available, the options can be overwhelming, especially if you’re inexperienced or haven’t worked out in a long time. In reality, though, everyone can work some fitness time into their week and, with some forethought and planning, stay motivated.
The first thing you need to evaluate is your attitude toward exercising. If you’re doing it for the right reasons, then chances of long-term success are very high. The problem is that most people worry about their health and fitness only when they compare themselves with others. It’s easy to envy the fit women at the gym, while at the same time feeling absolutely discouraged that you’ll ever reach that level of fitness. That takes a toll on motivation, so take a step back and consider what your achievable short- and long-term goals are. What works for one person might not work for you. Forget all the social norms that you’re bombarbed with and try not to compete with anyone other than yourself. If your goal is to lose twenty pounds, then realistically, figure you can lose two pounds a week. If you want to build muscle, start with light weights and work your way up. Maybe you’ll never be a bodybuilder, but with a realistic and positive attitude, you can still tone your body and improve your cardiovascular health.
The first step is to decide on your fitness goals. Do you want to feel better, lose weight, look good for a wedding, or just be able to keep up with your kids? If you haven’t worked out in a while, start slow with the understanding you’ll build up as you go. If you can do three sets of ten biceps curls, for instance, then the next week, make it three sets of twelve, or increase your weight by a pound or two. Keep track of your successes in a notebook or your phone. If you’re walking or jogging, add a little distance each week. As you begin to see progress and feel better, you’ll start to look forward to your workouts and might even add another day to your schedule.
Once you have your goals figured out, the next stage is preparation, which involves making time in your schedule. Think of how many hours a week you spend watching TV or looking at your phone. Instead of spending two or three hours a night surfing Netflix, head out for a walk or go down to the gym for some “me time.” Plan your schedule in advance so you don’t miss a day. Find friends to exercise with. Attend scheduled classes at a gym. Look for hiking or walking groups online. Even exercising just a couple of days a week is a great start. Another important step to consider is being more active throughout your day. This means that you start taking the stairs instead of using an elevator or spend more time standing than sitting. Even simple decisions such as parking your car farther away will get you started in the right direction.
If you’re still having a hard time pushing yourself to work out, an option is to ante up for a gym membership or to get an independent personal trainer—like me—who comes to your house or who can train you in a private studio. After a consultation, the trainer will determine which workout routine will help you reach your goals. With a smart routine, you don’t need to spend all day in the gym. My sessions are forty-five minutes long and rather intense, tailored to your needs, and effective. Once you do this for a couple of weeks, exercising may become second nature for you. Working with a trainer keeps you accountable and designs the program in a way that challenges your body and keeps you interested. It’s a great way to prevent yourself from falling back into your old habits and keeping you on the road to better health.

Giving up is not an option. What’s holding you back from getting fit? Start today!