Finding it hard to stick to a fitness routine?

I know the feeling. I’ve been there and believe me, it’s not a good feeling to watch yourself give up. It’s especially hard today when most of us have desk jobs that encourage sedentary living.

Tell me how many of the following you can identify with:

  • I hate working out.
  • I love my sleep.
  • I know I’m overweight but nothing works!
  • I don’t have the time!
  • I can’t look at myself in the mirror.
  • I have zero motivation.

Did you score 6/6? Congratulations. I did too! Until a month ago. I am not even kidding.Β But, the good news? It doesn’t have to be that way. Really!

In today’s post, I’m going to share how I managed to find and stick to the routine that helps me. Bear in mind that this is a work in progress and I will periodically update this, if possible.

I’m going to share simple tips which anyone can do. The really good news is that you don’t even have to do all of these things at once. Pick just one thing and start.

All set? Let’s get started!

1. Find a workout that you enjoy

I cannot stress this enough. It should be something you absolutely look forward to. Let me give you my list. Β I enjoy walking, swimming and playing badminton. Absolutely love all 3! When you do something you enjoy (much like blogging), you will look forward to it.

This doesn’t mean you should walk, swim or play badminton. Prefer to jog? Do that instead. Tennis gets you excited? Work up a sweat and grab that racquet. Since walking and badminton are the simplest in terms of gear and preparation, I navigate towards those two the most.

2. Do it everyday

I learnt this important rule from Leo Babauta’s Zen habits website. It’s also a principle I expanded upon in my ‘How to set a habit‘ post a while ago. You want to work out? Do it every single day.

Here is the clincher: It doesn’t have to be more than 5 minutes at first. Yes! Tell yourself, I will walk, come what may, for 5 minutes daily. You’d be surprised how well this works.

Before you know it, you’ve worked up to 10, 15, 25 and 35 minutes of comfortable walking. Baby steps will do it. Believe me!

Bonus tip: Do it at the same time everyday. Block it on the calendar so you don’t schedule anything else for that time period.

3. Get enough sleep

Ever since I read ‘Thrive’ by Arianna Huffington, my entire focus towards work, good health and fitness underwent a seismic shift. The reason I was overworked, overweight and exhausted was caused primarily by the fact that I was getting no more than 4 hours of sleep per night.

Each person’s body is different. Figure out how much you need. I average between 6.5 to 7 hours a night now and on most days, I am up before the alarm rings. It’s also a fact that I now feel more energetic through the day and get more work done. Win-win!

4. Ignore numbers

The thing that used to de-motivate me about seeing other fitness-related updates, especially on social media, was how people were cracking times and distances way better than I ever could. Naturally, I felt defeated. I would see an update and figure that I’d never get there, so why bother?

How did I overcome this? I stopped using apps to check how much I’d walked. Numbers freaked me out. I then learnt what I should have learnt all along: Fall in love with the routine itself.

If I play badminton, I play as much as I can until I can’t anymore. I just listen to my body and let it tell me how much I should work out. Simple!

I walk anywhere from 20 to 45 minutes, based on my mood and stamina level for that day. I don’t know how many kilometres I’ve walked or how fast I did it. No clue. But the good news? I love walking and I can’t wait to get out the door every morning, rain or shine.

Fitness Routine

5. Find your motivation

Unable to push yourself out the door? Find someone or something who will. I have one friend whom I message every morning before my walk. She cheers me on like I’m entering the Olympics πŸ˜€ Now if that doesn’t push you out the door, what will?

No such friend or friends who are too far ahead on their fitness journeys? No problem. Get a playlist to do the motivation. I have 3 playlists which I keep switching up on my device. As I start tiring or feeling, ‘Eh, maybe I’ll just head home’, my favourite song starts to play! Now I can’t go home without listening to the whole song! So I end up walking another 4 or 5 minutes. Simple, right?

6. Love yourself

This is something I learnt the very, very hard way. Each day, I’d look at myself in the mirror and watch the rolling lumps of flesh on my abdomen. I’d cringe at my unsightly globs of cellulite and think, ‘Ugh, what’s the use? All the workout and nothing to show for it!’

Then, I met a friend recently. In a freak accident, she’d slipped and fallen, crushing her left foot. The bone had splintered and needed surgery. Watching her lie there,but with a smile on her face, saying ‘This will pass’, made me realise what a fighter she is.

I then came home and looked at myself in the mirror again. Where I saw flab, I now saw a body that could walk, workout and be healthy, if I chose. Where I felt disgust, I now felt pride that I manage to get out the door every morning.

That’s when it happened. The inner narrative shifted. I began to love the fact that I was in good enough health to walk or play badminton. That worked wonders.

The other BIG learning you need to understand is this:

Work out to stay fit and healthy. Don’t work out to lose weight.

7. Make health a priority, not an option

The thing about health? For many of us, it’s the standard excuse of ‘I don’t have time.’

We all have time. We really do! Don’t believe me? Read this piece by Laura Vanderkam, The Busy person’s lies.

Now, take out a notepad and tell me how many minutes a day you spend scrolling through social media. Tell me how many minutes you spent outraging on something in the news. How much time did you spend worrying about a problem instead of fixing it?

Eye-opener? It was for me. And that’s when I decided this won’t do. I found a time that works: 8 to 9 am every single day. During this time, I am out the door, walking or playing badminton. No mobile data, no chores, no worrying about work. Nope. Health matters.


Now, you’ve read this all. Which ones are you planning to start with? In fact, I urge you to do something. Pick one of the tips and work on it for a month. Just one.

Write a post Β on your blog or share an update on social media. Tag me and tell me what you managed. I’ll be more than happy to cheer you on.

Let’s do this together. There’s strength in numbers. Before you know it, fitness will be something you will be talking about to everyone you meet.

Are you game?

*Featured image courtesy: Shutterstock

29 thoughts on “How to find and stick to a fitness routine

  1. I’m definitely game for it. Tips are amazing. I already kept few of these points in my mind and now I’m more motivated.. Thank you for wise words always.

  2. That’s so inspiring! I know many people who swear by their fit bits, so I guess it’s a matter of perspective and more importantly, readiness for the task ?

  3. Shailaja, I am game for it πŸ™‚ Walking is my favorite form of exercise. I had started going for a walk everyday a couple of weeks before my Leh-Ladakh trip but now that I am back I have started making excuses for not going. Your post has me motivated once again, hope it lasts. Will keep you posted on my progress πŸ™‚

  4. There are days when I dont stick to my routine and feel super guilty about it.. Luckily I have a husband who pushes me out. :)… But yes I do have a regime, and have a physical activity or so that I enjoy doing.
    Would love to work on a post with regards to this and would tag you… Am game Shailaja.

  5. I know! I was so stunned to see your post, because I am also working on the same topic. This month has been especially hard to keep up with my fitness routine, but I’ve tried to eat healthy and be as active as I could. Each tip is priceless. Actually, the main thing is to schedule it and not compromise–at all! I have to keep reminding myself that I am that person who made lifestyle changes overnight and turned things around in 15 days when I was diagnosed with diabetes. Thank you!

  6. Yes, Mam! I am game. This post is an eye-opener! I remember taking a resolution last December that I would at least walk every day if not joining the gym. And it is September now. I have not walked even a single day. I know I should do it. My health is deteriorating, I can hardly breathe if I climb a few stairs, I have pain on my knee and I am not even 30. ?

  7. I practice yoga thrice or four times but it’s hardly enough when I came with this excuse of not having time. Thanks for this motivating post and time to buck…keep walking, jogging and exercising. I am playing for a diet change in September and need to push myself towards the cliff’s end.

  8. Shy you are always there to motivate us and give us that much needed extra push, aren’t you?
    I do cycle on weekends, but during the weekdays, my exercise routine is still a bit erratic. I walk or do some floor exercises in the mornings when things go on time. I’m planning to start running again. Just that I’m still struggling to keep up with a schedule. That’s my biggest debacle as of now. πŸ™

  9. Oh, yes, I agree with you! Working out to stay healthy is much more necessary than working out to lose weight. Having said that, I often slip into the former mode but pinch myself to get my mind on track number 2!
    Good thing you got off all the health apps. They are of no use. All you need are motivation and your own wellbeing at heart. And, if that doesn’t work out, just think for a minute about yourself in your future…not that it’s in our hands, but if we take care of ourselves now, we won’t (hopefully) be in a worst shape later, will we? (Keeping fingers crossed even as I say this to myself!) πŸ™‚

  10. I’ve always been a pretty good fitness freak, but I only started taking it more seriously now thanks to my hormone issues and the desperate need to lose weight in order to control it. I’ve charted out a plan and am sticking to it.

    Along with fitness, I’m even watching my diet. It makes a world of a difference. I’ve managed to knock off two kilos in two weeks, thanks to my current plan πŸ™‚

  11. This is fantastic, Shailaja! Such good advice. I liked Raj’s fitness advice, too, but found it a bit daunting. Your advice seems more doable for a middle aged plump gal like me.

    I am trying to ride my bike around the village as much as possible because it’s good exercise and I enjoy it so much. Usually I take my camera with me and get lots of photos. Soon it will be winter and I won’t be able to ride so I must take advantage of the nice weather. Then I try to walk, even when it’s snowy. Luckily our dog always needs to be walked so that gets me out. This summer the mosquitoes have been terrible so I’ve been wearing my head netting. Very stylish!

    Unfortunately the exercise does nothing for my weight but I know it has lots of health benefits. Eating is the only thing that affects it. I have put on weight lately and it doesn’t feel that nice. Emotional eating of sweets is something I’m good at but that’s another topic! I don’t want to go back to Weight Watchers as it’s expensive and I always end up messing up and putting the weight on again. A vicious circle! Sigh!

  12. I love the ‘Do it everyday’ point! That suddenly makes setting a fitness routine easier and something to look forward to. Hope to start tomorrow, Shailaja. Thanks for this motivating post!:)

  13. I used to be there 6/6. I would start my walks, somehow, and then the weather would play spoilsport making me go back to square one. Nothing worked for me. I had convinced myself I was a yoga person and not a gym person. But when yoga wasn’t helpful for me, I challenged myself and enrolled with a Gym trainer. It was difficult initially but my middle class obsession with the money spent on his fees kept me going. Now it is the 3rd month and I look forward to do my training everyday. God, I have thought a lot of times to write about my fitness journey and the 8 kgs I have shed but everytime I get lost.

  14. 7 on 7… I agree with all of them. Numbers sometimes demotivate me… I don’t have Any app to check my steps or monitor my heart or anything else. It all boils down to how I feel in the end. A satisfying workout is all one needs to remain on track. I love how you are always so motivated and bounce back so fast even after facing health issues. All the more reason to love you ?

  15. This is such a motivating post, Shailaja. All the 7 tips are very practical. I go for a walk daily for more than 30 minutes. Like you said I don’t time myself and have no clue about my speed. I walk pushing the stroller to put my baby to sleep or to just calm him down. I’m super proud of me these days because I’m extremely busy and it’s very hot in Phoenix around 40-42 degrees that my husband says not to go for a walk, but I dab on some sunscreen lotion and grab my sunglasss and hat and just walk. As you said I don’t have a body to show off my workout but I’m enjoying it. That should count, right?

  16. What a coincidence. I put up a post on fitness as well today. πŸ™‚ I am glad that you have started getting regular with your walks since 15 days. I liked the tips and two of them that I agree with are get enough sleep and make health a priority. Hope more people make fitness a part of their lives. Cheers to that.

  17. This is perfectly timed for me. I’m quite regular, but often due to personal setbacks or temporary issues the continuity suffers. I wanted to use my birthday as a start and an excuse to promise myself good health. Will write a post and link it to you. πŸ™‚

  18. Very helpful and uplifting tips, Shailaja! Get enough sleep – this is the problem for me. You remember I commented in a post that I have learnt to get up early in the morning? But, I haven’t learnt to sleep on time. This is difficult (Puraani aadat hai!) and this is why I feel tired.

    I totally agree with you when you say, ‘Make health a priority, not an option.’ You can’t feel good if you (and anyone in your family) are not healthy. Health is happiness, no?
    Thanks for sharing your tips.

  19. Hugs babe. I know. It’s really tough. Like I said, start with five minutes. Just five minutes. Every day. Do stretches at home when she sleeps. Put on a Bipasha or Shilpa shetty video on mute and do some moves. Come on. Five minutes? Surely? For me? ?

  20. My biggest takeaway is ‘do it everyday’. That’s something I can work towards. I don’t have a favourite fitness routine – as in I have phases – walking, Zumba, treadmill, yoga – I’ve done different things at different times. But doing it every day even on weekends is a practice I need to adopt.

  21. Hmm. I don’t know, Shailaja. I want to do something to take care of my body and be fit but just can’t seem to find the time. My back is aching these days from carrying M’s huge daycare bag but I don’t know what to do about it and where to find time to incorporate a fitness routine. Sigh!

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