If you are anything like my past self then I understand your resistance to the concept of a structured routine. Just the thought of creating a committed exercise routine might seem stressful.
Have you experienced anything like this…
You start with a grand idea that you’ll exercise more. There’s a fair amount of enthusiasm and hope that goes along with this idea. You get started. You’re all in. But after a few weeks, life happens. Your time seems to get crunched.
You realize that you can put off the exercise for a day or two. After all, you’ve been doing good and you can feel the results. But after a week or more, it’s seeming out of reach, like another thing on your todo list. Your faltering routine is causing resentment, for your lack of time and busy schedule. You derail. And with derailment, you have another story about why you can’t seem to stick with it.
I hear you. You are not alone in this scenario!
Having said that, you know an exercise routine is an important tool to getting your mental and physical health where you want it to be. And you also know that keeping a steady routine would be ideal.
Let’s be clear though – an exercise routine does not mean,
- following a very strict diet and fitness regime.
- pushing yourself with long cardio sessions, ellipticals and weight machines or HIIT videos on YouTube.
- unwavering dedication to yoga, Pilates, spinning, or dance classes that are designed and instructed by super fit people with idealized bodies.
An exercise routine definitely does not mean flip flopping back and forth between overachiever ambitious standards and periods of feeling disappointed, defeated (and even injured) while lamenting about how you’ve gotten off track again.
In fact, I would say that a sustainable exercise routine is exactly the opposite of all that.
So, what exactly is an Exercise Routine?
It is a simple set of small and repetitive steps which you incorporate into your day to day living. These small actions, when adopted consciously and consistently, will make a vast difference in your life.
Imagine this. There are things (exercise type things) that you love to do. Given that, you creatively learn to incorporate them into your daily life. Integrated into your life in this way these actions become habits. A habit…. like brushing your teeth, grabbing your wallet before you leave the house, or having a morning cup of coffee or tea.
Consistent, small and simple actions that get you moving and exercising more frequently, will have a great impact on the quality of your life.
Routine vs Ritual – A Side Note about language.
Some people have resistance to words such as routine and structure. If that’s you, you may prefer to use “ritual” in its stead. Ritual involves bringing sensuality, heart purpose, and reverence to your routine. It’s a style of routine.
This may not appeal to everyone but some of us crave a more embodied and mindful experience with our fitness and health routines. An experience that feels like an act of devotion, playfulness and self-awareness. With ritual we can create a series of tiny experiences that allow us to marvel in gratitude for the simple gift of being alive.
So, what are the steps to an Exercise Routine?
I am glad you asked.
To give you a simple answer, its a 3 Step process:
- Identify your Why
- Identify your Goals
- Identify your Herd (Yes, you heard that right!)
Let us deep dive into it, shall we …
1. Identify your “Big Why”
Why do you want to exercise more? Do you feel “out of shape” or “not fit”? Are you concerned about your long term health and you know something needs to change?
Perhaps you want to age well. Or avoid injury and disease that are related to a sedentary lifestyle. Maybe you want to play on the floor with your grandkids. Or feel fit enough to take a river trip next year. How about actively pursuing a life with less pain. Or setting a good example for your children.
Would you like to feel more connected to your sense of spirituality and creativity? To have a clear head and an awake body while experiencing this one precious life?
Exercise has been shown to be such a benefit. Identify your unique reasons (your big why) in order to create a steadfast exercise routine. Pick the reason that doesn’t feel like a chore. That doesn’t overwhelm you. A reason that you can feel devoted to.
2. Identify your Goals
This step is to determine HOW to get where you want to be with your exercise routine. It doesn’t have to be a great big goal! Simple is better. But take note – goals are actions that are: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time Bound. There’s an acronym to help you remember all that. They are called S.M.A.R.T goals.
Here are a few examples.
- I will walk for 15 minutes after dinner 5 nights out of the week.
- I will take one long walk with a friend each week from now until Christmas.
- I will ride my bike to work 3 days per week for two months in a row.
- I will journal each day for one week about how I’ll create an exercise routine that’s more about ritual and prayer than it is about results and rigidity.
3. Identify your Herd and/or a Mentor/Coach
This is an important step for a lot of reasons. But before we get into the reasons, let’s clarify what “identifying your herd” means.
- It means finding the people who have similar goals and reasons for seeking an exercise routine.
- It means finding movement activities that you love to do. And finding like minded people who encourage you to keep discovering what works for YOU.
- It means finding a coach or mentor who can guide you through this important part of your life. Showing you how to discover what works best for YOU.
Personally, my herd and mentors have changed over the years. Currently, I follow a herd that can teach me about primal movement. I value teachers of anatomy, who know about the human body’s optimal movement patterns.
And this brings us to three reasons WHY you might want a herd and/or a mentor/coach.
Yes it’s true, in this fast paced and busy lifestyle, we often get distracted from our goals and the reasons we laid out for these goals. You give it your best shot to do it by yourself but still end up with a lack of motivation, even frustration.
But what if you had someone looking out for you?
Friends with similar challenges, backgrounds and experience can help you “show up” for yourself. Friends (lovingly) help friends achieve goals.
Making headway feels good, right?
Having a herd, a coach or a mentor makes things easier. Change is hard. Going it alone is even harder.
With my Daily Routine 101 course, you will get compassion, education, coaching and accountability. I’ll help you design home routines that have to do with food, exercise, mindfulness, and stress reduction – these routines can be customized to your unique needs. In this course you get yourself on a direct path to developing habits – with exercise and more!
Daily Routine 101 is a 7 week, interactive group course that takes place – in your home, on line and with live group video conference calls.
Discovering ways to enjoy and build variety into your exercise routine, while also broadening your definition of exercise is a big feature within Daily Routine 101. You’ll learn the difference between movement and exercise. Plus, how to get more of both!
Expose yourself to new ideas and techniques.
What keeps you interested? If you’re not sticking with your endeavours, you may very well have gotten bored. A fresh group of people, fresh teachers, or a coach who keeps you feeling inspired might be the key to your success. If what you’ve been doing hasn’t been working – it might be time to rework your plan!
I’d like to suggest a strategy that can help you to get more movement woven throughout your day. My affectionate name for this style of exercising is “movement snacks”. Here are a few examples…
- Do 15 minutes of heart pumping exercise every morning before you eat.
- Ride your bike instead of taking your car to run errands.
- When possible, carry your groceries instead of pushing them in a cart.
- Play on the playground with your kids or grandkids.
- Walk while you visit with a friend, in person or on the phone.
- Put on one song. Dance.
- Do yoga stretches while your water boils or coffee brews.
- Harvest wildfoods, garden, or go to a U-pick farm.
- Gather the unique benefits of moving in nature.
- Play!! Oh yes, it’s worth mentioning twice in this list. The pure fun of playing by yourself, or with a friend, or with your mate. This could be games like badminton, table tennis, or frisbee. How about a cartwheel, jump rope or hula hoop?
Daily Exercise at Home = Consistency = Habits
It’s easy to realize that the reason most exercise routines fail is because of a lack of consistency. Maybe doldrums set in about going to the gym, yoga or fitness studio. Or maybe there’s an impatience with trying to figure out which approach works best for you. Mental fluctuations (vrittis) like this offer you a reason to skip out.
When you have a herd or a mentor – you are much more likely to show up. To remain consistent. That’s accountability in action!
I have a strong opinion that home practices are the secret strategy that get you reaching your fitness goals. Show up at your own home for 15 – 40 minutes per day. It will save you time and money.
Home practices allow you to create consistency with minimal effort. The repetition is key. You begin to understand the needs of your body on a day to day basis. You respond, and your body reaps the benefits.
“Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.”
– Jim Rohn
Well there you go. 3 steps to change. And 3 reasons to do it with other people!
And finally, remember to be patient with yourself. Lasting change is not a quick fix endeavor. Your current habits are deeply ingrained. You must learn to redirect them in a kind and compassionate way. Again and again and again.
In the end, the best exercise routine is one that you stick with. One that grows and changes with you over time. A routine that you can adapt and remain devoted to – even when you have high stress or injury. Building an exercise routine is a slow but steady journey with yourself and your body. It’s a foundation. If built well, you get to keep it your entire life.
At this stage in my life (after having changed my mindset about routines and structure) I can honestly say that my morning routine, and especially my exercise routines, are a gentle and sweet form of self-care that I can depend on. With so many things always changing in the world and in my life, it’s a blessing to have this rock of dependability.
Won’t you join me? Let’s play together!
With high regard,
p.s. You can learn about Habit Science and how to adopt its strategies in your life in my course Daily Routine 101. You will also learn about Yoga’s definition of Habit Science = samskara (grooves of conditioning) and the importance of a personally customized exercise routine, according to Ayurveda.
p.p.s. If you’d prefer a more specialized and direct approach you can also hire me as your personal coach. Or if you want exercise classes ONLY you can join the Mindful Movement Membership, where you get to come to live weekly classes and view pre-recorded videos that focus on mindful movement and yoga.