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Summer often means a more lax schedule, with weekends spent socializing at barbecues and lounging on the beach. Whether you have children or not, the back-to-school season serves as a reset for all of us to get back to a sense of routine.
This shift from summer to fall is a great time to check in with yourself, take stock of your current fitness level, and set goals for the next few months. This time of year, I often find my weight-loss clients inspired to establish new healthy habits and recommit to their health goals.
While feeling the motivation to add back hour-long workouts or lose a ton of weight is great, I always recommend starting small with changes that really don’t feel like you’re doing much at all. The key is to make these adjustments fit seamlessly into your routine so that they’re easy to maintain.
Here are some easy ways to make exercise a part of your daily routine again. Give them a try — you may be surprised what else you are inspired to do once they stick!
Add just 5 minutes of movement
Going from zero to 100 never works. So, start small. I’m talking just five minutes of a new activity. It could be stretching when you first wake up, a walk every day at lunchtime, or a core routine you find on YouTube. Committing to five minutes every single day will help you show up for yourself, without having to completely rearrange your schedule. It will also make moving your body a habit again and motivate you to make fitness even more of a priority. If you have a hard time getting started, I encourage people to pick an activity they haven’t done before. The novelty will keep things interesting while you work toward making it a habit.
Set up a self-care corner
No more rolling out your yoga mat next to a pile of dirty laundry or finding space to do some squats amid the chaos of your children’s playroom. It’s time to create a space just for you — it can be as small as one corner of a room — complete with a mat, free weights, something that makes you smile (like an inspirational quote or some flowers) and anything else that will inspire you to exercise. Treat this space as a place for you to spend alone time, relax and de-stress. Fitting in exercise can be stressful, especially if you’re already busy. Designing a small space that changes our mindset about fitness and helps us associate it with improving our mental health will have you actually looking forward to it.
Think about the holidays now
Despite what the department stores want you to think, you have at least another solid month to really push yourself and focus on your workouts before the hustle and bustle of the holiday season hits. If the food and fun of the holiday season usually sets you back a bit, even more reason to put in some solid work now. Use the anticipation of the festivities, family time and delicious food as motivation to make fitness a priority for the next month or so. With an established fitness habit you’ll be more likely to keep movement in your routine when the holidays hit, even if you ease up a bit, and will be less likely to have to start back at square one come January.
Get outside whenever possible
Exercising outdoors in the summer months can sometimes be a challenge since the heat makes working out feel more intense. But that crisp fall air is perfect for taking your workouts outdoors. Plus, I often find that outdoor activities, like hiking, bike riding or yoga in the park, feel less like a chore and more like a fun hobby! Before the cold weather comes, get outside. Plan weekend activities that get you moving like hiking a local park, walking to brunch or taking a family bike ride. You’ll kill two birds with one stone and get your workout in while you enjoy leisure time with people you love.
Join a challenge
Structure and accountability are things we all can use a little more of. An easy way to get both of them is by committing to a challenge of some kind. I always suggest that my clients start with 30 days: it’s long enough to see results, but short enough that you can see the finish line! I publish a new one every month and they're a great way to get started:
A quick online search will reveal tons of other challenges, so find one that fits your goals and fitness level.
Focus on a new muscle group
You may have spent all summer focused on your midsection. Of course, working your core is always a good thing, but try switching your focus to a new area. Working out a different muscle group means performing new exercises and will keep your workouts feeling fresh. Some suggestions: Set a goal to improve your upper-body strength and work toward finally being able to perform a pushup or focus on your glutes and find a squat challenge to join!
Make a new playlist
Listening to music while working out is one of the best ways to lighten the mood, increase your motivation and quiet all of those negative thoughts (or that never-ending mental to-do list). If you have a workout playlist, revamp it! I find myself getting bored with certain songs after a while, so add some new songs or try a new playlist entirely to set as the soundtrack to your workout routine.