We’ve all had those days where we forget our sneakers, or just don’t get moving in time to squeeze in some cardio. But if you find yourself regularly skipping workouts for silly reasons (“I just washed my hair!”), it’s time to organize your life in a way that makes it easier to embrace exercise.
Contrary to popular belief, creating a seamless fitness habit isn’t just about willpower. “Most of getting to the gym comes down to preparation and habits,” says Mark Crabtree, ATC, founder of Ignite Fitness in Naperville, Illinois.
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Streamlining your daily routine will help eliminate excuses that might derail you during moments of weakness. “You only have a limited supply of willpower on any given day,” says Christine Carter, Ph.D, sociologist and author of The Sweet Spot. “When something is a habit, you’re running on autopilot, so you don’t have to draw on those limited sources of self-control.”
These easy tricks will pinpoint what’s keeping you from getting fit — and help you learn how to get back on track with your routine.
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No Excuses: 5 Ways to Stick to Your Workouts
1. You always forget to pack your gym bag.
“If you’re continuously forgetting something so necessary to your workout, each time it is like a little act of self-sabotage,” says Carter. For two weeks, put a Post-it on your sneakers saying, “Do you have all your gear?” Eventually you’ll automatically remember to check, even when your sneakers are sans reminder.
Another clever option is to get a gym bag with separate sections, so you can more easily see if you’re missing something vital. “Bags are individual to each person, but it can help to have one with compartments for your sweaty stuff, for your work clothes, for snacks and water, and for things like keys,” says Crabtree.
2. You’re too ravenous by the end of the day.
“Solve this problem by preparing your meals for each week in one go,” says Carter. (Or, start with these 12 brilliant meal prep ideas to free up your time.) Horrified by the thought of eating a turkey sandwich prepped three days before? Try to at least plan your menus, so you can stock up at the grocery store on Sunday.
“Treat your workout as if it’s a meeting scheduled with yourself.”
Post-work trips to Whole Foods are a surefire way to foil your goal of going to the gym before dinner. One solution could be introducing a pre-workout snack into your routine to tide you over. Not only will it fuel you, but “that food becomes part of your mindset. When you eat it, you know a workout is coming soon,” says Crabtree. If they aren’t perishable, consider putting a week’s worth of snacks in to your gym bag so you don’t have to remember to do it each day.
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3. You’re digging through the hamper in the morning.
No, we’re not going to tell you to sleep in your gym clothes (just lay them out the night before). Because no matter how comfy those Nike leggings may be, you should designate them strictly for working out. “Don’t wear workout clothes to sleep or lounge around the house in,” says Crabtree. “When your brain ties those clothes only to exercise, it will start to get into the right frame of mind when you put them on.” Plus, there’s less of a chance of your gear being dirty when you need it, if you’re not living in it 24/7.
4. You stay up too late and skip morning workouts.
Ah, the siren song of bypassing bedtime in favor of scrolling through your Instagram feed. Give yourself a hard deadline for when you’ll quit your screens for the day — and publicize it, says Carter. “Tell colleagues, friends and family that you won’t be texting, talking on the phone, or emailing after a certain time,” says Carter. That may sound extreme, but sleep is a key part of making gym time non-negotiable. “Most people would not skip a doctor’s appointment, a meeting with their lawyer, or a work meeting,” says Crabtree. “Treat your workout as if it carries the same importance — it’s a meeting scheduled with yourself.”
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5. You get shut out of workout classes because you never register on time.
Self-sabotage strikes again! “When you’re truly motivated to do something that requires a reservation, you’ll make it,” says Carter. Check out these workout motivation tips, then set at least one weekly calendar reminder to prompt your sign-ups (end date: never). It’s best if you can do all your registration at once, says Carter, but feel free to set multiple prompts if you need to. Even better, find a workout solution that gives you access any time of day (hello, DailyBurn 365!).
What’s your favorite trick for sticking with your gym plans? Tell us in the comments section below.