A routine you can maintain
We’re stuck at home, so it should be easy right? Well it’s not...it’s never going to be easy. Even more so now as we cannot enter a class based environment to motivate ourselves. We don’t have to be accountable to a class that we can’t cancel without a fee. There are no eyes on us to force us to perform to the best of our ability. We are only accountable to ourselves. It’s easy to not get dressed, fall into convenient bad habits and start to feel down. Unfortunately, just as positive behaviours can become habit therefore routine, so can negative. The good news is that positive behaviours can most definitely become your routine, and motivate you to pick up more and more positive habits.
It has to become habit, like brushing your teeth, or getting dressed. Habits become routine. We create our routine through repetition. It takes an average of 66 days for a new behaviour to become automatic. Two months of forcing the uncomfortable until it starts to feel more natural. After you get into a bit of a rhythm, you become more fit and it motivates you to keep going. It’s a cycle of struggle, success, feeling good and wanting more.
I have always had a fitness routine in my life as I played competitive sport. As I’ve mentioned before, I struggled after my university career ended and my routine was taken from me. I quickly learned that I needed a fairly regimented schedule or I would easily fall out of shape and become unmotivated. One of my greatest motivations is the post workout high. I know that if I can push through my workout, my mood improves, my motivation for the day is at a high and I just feel overall accomplished. When I first began trying to build a fitness routine with shift work, I burned myself out. I was trying to workout 5 days a week, fitting in workouts before or after 12 hour shifts. It took a lot of trial and error to figure out a routine that began to feel natural. I fell in and out of it and was always starting from square one again. This is going to happen, and that is okay as long as you get back on the horse. Day one is always the hardest, but luckily there is only moving forward from there. I learned a lot about myself in the process and what was actually achievable.
Once I knew running kept me coming back for more, I focused on that. I then realized that if all I did was run, I would be starting at square one again in no time because I would get bored. I found barre and was instantly addicted. I knew for me, it was the perfect addition to fit into my running routine.
I am definitely an advocate for writing things down. You will feel more accountable and invested if you take the time to write out a schedule. When I started, I made a calendar in my phone filling in all of my work shifts. As I work 12 hour shifts, I tend to work 2-4 shifts in a row and then have at least 3 days off in between. If I have a few heavy work weeks, I know that I have a long stretch off coming up and don’t stress about missed workouts. Everyone’s routines are going to look different, and that is okay! I don’t schedule any workouts on my work days, aside from my first night shift on a stretch of nights because I know from experience that I burn out. I schedule my runs alternating with barre days to keep it manageable. Prior to COVID, I would sign up for my barre classes a week in advance and write my run days down in my calendar. It is so satisfying to cross off a workout. I also alternate between indoor and outdoor runs, depending on my toddlers schedule as I do not run with my kids outside. So my schedule looks something like, work two day shifts, long run outdoors, barre, short run on treadmill, barre, work three nights. My schedule is different every week, but I commit all my days off to some form of exercise that I plan the week ahead. If I don’t plan ahead, I don’t do it. I don’t schedule any evening workouts because I know that I won’t complete it. I carve out my evenings for “me” time and it is the only quality time I get to spend with my husband. Prior to COVID and my second daughter being born, my toddler came with me to barre classes and I penciled in my outdoor runs for when she was in daycare, otherwise I was on the treadmill while she napped. If I knew there was no way I could get a run in, then I did barre 3 days in a row with Halle in child minding. You have to be realistic, and only schedule in what is manageable. If you feel as though you are failing, you will get in the wrong mind set and fall out of routine.
My schedule now during COVID looks much differently as I now have two children and I am on maternity leave. The barre studios are closed in my city, but have an online option (thank goodness!). I now wake up every morning, if I slept in the first place haha, and I put on my work out gear. This is no different than my pre maternity leave as I would do the same thing on my days off. I always schedule my workout for the morning after my coffee. That is when I am most motivated and I know I will get it done. I still alternate barre with running, but obviously don’t leave the house to do either. I do my barre workouts anywhere in my house that my toddler is entertained at the time, and I complete all of my runs on my treadmill. I never workout more than 5 days in a row as I know I will lose my motivation for the upcoming week if I overdo it. I will also take days off if we go for a hike or I just really can’t fit it in. I don’t beat myself up about it because I know I will show up the next day.
So how do you make a maintainable routine? Where do you start?
Make a plan, and write it down. You can put it in a calendar in your phone or whatever form works for you. Take a look at it, and see if it looks and feels manageable. Start with realistic goals because if you burn yourself out right out of the gate, it is that much harder to start again. It doesn’t have to look the same every week. Two days a week is a great start. You can always build on that once you feel it’s manageable.
Find workouts that motivate you. If you see results, or feel accomplished after your workout, you will keep coming back to it. Pick a few different styles within cardio and strength. Keeping some variety in your workouts will keep you from getting bored, but don’t pick more than a few. If you are able to hone in on a few workouts and get comfortable in them, you are more likely to stick with it. If you feel confident doing it, you will keep doing it.
Pick a time of day that works for you and plan around it. I put my workout gear on as soon as I wake up because I know it will force me to get it done whether I want to or not. I look forward to my morning coffee and then know my workout happens right after. This is my morning routine.
You have to stick with it. Make a routine around your workout that is consistent (ie putting on your workout gear and drinking your coffee) so that it becomes habitual. It will become something you do without even thinking about it. If after two months of consistency, it doesn’t feel natural or motivating, try changing up the type of workout until it works for you.
If you have a tough week, or more, be forgiving to yourself. Life happens and some days are going to feel harder than others. Give yourself a grace period, but get back to it. It will take work and time to have it feel routine again, but it will. You’ve done it before and you can do it again; it won’t take as long to feel habitual because it’s muscle memory, it’s familiar.
I will tell you again, day one sucks! But everyday thereafter gets easier. Every subsequent day one is less daunting. Your schedule can change, you will find one that works and is feasible. Anything worth achieving takes time. You got this mommas!
Feel free to reach out if you need any help, I’m always here.
All my love,