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Ten keys to unlocking a consistent exercise routine




Slowly but surely Spring is making an appearance, in true New England fashion…alternating between frigid temps, lots of rain and those balmy days that give me hope! Nothing better than sitting on the soccer sidelines or behind home plate with the sun on my face.

 

The Spring gives me a little pep in my step and an extra nudge to get outside and MOVE!

 

But, finding the time (and energy) to do that can be…complicated.

 

We’re busy moms, working all day and then spending our nights and weekends at sports fields (or courts or rinks). It can sometimes feel darn near impossible to find time or energy to exercise in the midst of the daily chaos, let alone establish a consistent habit.  

 

Social media fitness influencers tell us to wake up at 5 am to exercise or do it when the kids go to bed. While that advice is well intentioned, and maybe those solutions work for you, neither is a necessity to add consistent movement to your life. 

 

In this blog, I’m sharing ten obstacles to exercising regularly and what you can do to overcome them and nail a consistent routine.

 

1.    Our human brain doesn’t like doing hard things.

 

Our primitive brain, our survival brain, has three “jobs”: seek pleasure, avoid discomfort and conserve energy. Simply put, our brain views exercise as hard and it’s way more appealing to sleep in, scroll socials, watch Netflix, grab a snack, etc…instead of exercising.  

 

Newflash- exercise CAN feel hard sometimes. We need to work our heart muscle to build our cardiovascular fitness.  We need to work our skeletal muscles to get stronger. It also takes work to make time for the exercise in our busy schedules. Notice the common thread here?

 

The workaround: Coming at ya with a little tough love…acknowledge that it might feel hard sometimes and do it anyways! This doesn’t mean that you need to go beast mode for every workout. In fact, the opposite is true if you want to establish a consistent, sustainable routine (more on that in #8).

 

2.    Our human brain doesn’t like change.

 

Our survival brain is programmed to conserve energy by doing what it’s always done. Simply put- our brain dislikes changes and will put up an epic toddler tantrum when we try to change our routine.

 

The workaround: keep at it, it gets easier with practice. The more you do it, the more your brain gets used to it, and the less resistance you’ll encounter. Before you know it, it’ll becomes a habit. It eventually becomes a part of who you are, not simply what you do.

 

3.    Our human brain overcomplicates exercise.

 

We have long-held beliefs of what exercise should be, rather than what it could be so that it fits into our current lifestyle.

 

Maybe you think it only “counts” as exercise if you devote a full hour in the gym. I used to think that a run didn’t “count” unless it was at least 4 miles. Hogwash!

 

The workaround: Get curious and start challenging your long-held beliefs about what “counts” as exercise. Consider how you can simplify exercise so that it better aligns with your current lifestyle (the current season of your life or the actual season of the year). My routine shifts a bit from season to season and that’s okay, for example, I weight train a bit more during the winter and then get outside more in the warmer months.

 

4.    We’re chasing a past version of ourselves.

 

Are you chasing a past version of what you used to be able to do? I’m rehabbing a chronic Achilles injury. Do I wish I could go back out there and run 7 miles at the speed I was running last year? Sure! But it’s unrealistic to think that’s attainable right out of the gate when I start running again after a few months off.

 

The workaround: Instead of should’ing all over yourself, about what you should do or what you should be able to do, meet yourself where you’re at right now. Maybe that starts with 5- to 10-minute spurts of walking or strength training (air squats, walking lunges, pushups on your knees, planks, etc…). Start small and level-up as you move forward.

 

5.    We haven’t prioritized exercise within the context of our daily life.

 

We prioritize a bunch of “activities” or responsibilities each day…whether it’s conscious or habit. We work, we help our kids get ready for school, we feed everyone, we maintain our home, we help with homework, we shuttle our kids from one activity to the next, maybe you volunteer in the community or at your church, and we take on the mental load of motherhood (e.g., all of the decisions we make on a daily basis).

 

The workaround: Take a hard look at why you want to prioritize exercise and reconsider your current priorities to see where you can fit it in. Challenge the thought, “I don’t have time”. Take a look at what you have going on, be intentional about what you want to prioritize and then block out time in your schedule (just as you would a doctor’s appointment). Get creative…sometimes I grab a couple moms and walk around the track while our daughters are at soccer practice. Social interaction AND exercise wrapped into one = winning!

 

6.    We don’t make a specific plan.

 

Maybe you tell yourself, “I’m going to exercise tomorrow”, but you don’t decide ahead of time what that will look like. Or maybe you take it one step further and say, “I’m going to lift weights or walk”, but you don’t plan beyond that.


Our brain needs specific instructions ahead of time or else our primitive brain will take over and come up with every excuse in the book to avoid discomfort and fall back to the routine of what it’s always done (not exercise).


The workaround: make a plan ahead of time and be specific with what you’ll do and when you’ll do it. I can’t even count the number of times I planned to exercise and then proceeded to procrastinate…lying in bed in the morning when the alarm goes off, debating whether to do cardio or lift weights. I’d waste at least 30 minutes scrolling workouts on my iPad and distracting myself with social media. Being specific, about what you’re going to do and when you’re going to do it, will significantly increase your chances of following through.

 

7.    We get derailed when “life happens”.

 

Yes, unforeseen circumstances come up. It’s raining when you planned to walk outside, you get sick, the kids get sick, your spouse is traveling for work, etc... You might change your routine and/or scale back from time to time, but it doesn’t mean you have to throw in the towel completely.

 

The workaround: Trouble-shoot obstacles and have a “Plan B” ready to roll. Here are some examples.

 

·      I dislike walking or running in the pouring rain or if there’s a ton of ice on the ground, so I have a backup indoor workout on standby.

·      Communicate with the people around you ahead of time to avoid conflicts. Example: I typically run with a friend either Saturday or Sunday morning and I discuss it with my husband ahead of time so we’re both on the same page.

·      If you’re sick, give yourself time to rest and recover. Maybe go for a relaxed walk to stretch your legs when you feel up to it.

·      If the kids get sick, give yourself space and grace. Consider bookmarking a few 10 minutes workouts (YouTube has a ton of free options) to take care of YOU in between tending to littles. Something is better than nothing. 

·      If nights are crazy with sports practices, set up those carpools or go for a quick walk around the field instead of sitting in the car waiting for practice to end.

 

8.    We get caught up in “all or nothing”

 

We often fall into the "all or nothing" trap, believing that if we aren’t “all in”, then it's not worth doing at all. This typically results in far more “nothing” than “all” ;-)

 

Consistency and discipline, not perfection, is how we nail our health goals, whether it’s getting stronger, leaner and/or more fit.

 

The workaround: Shifting your mindset from “all or nothing” to “all or something” allows for consistent progress. Instead of overwhelming yourself with grandiose plans, start with small, achievable actions, and gradually build upon them to maintain a sustainable routine. For example, if you want to get stronger, incorporate 15-20 minutes of strength training a couple of days a week, focusing on quality over quantity. Once you’re consistent with that routine, consider up-leveling to three days a week.

 

9.    We get bored and quit.

 

Sometimes we get bored and end up quitting because doing the same thing over and over again just isn't cutting it. But here's the thing - being bored doesn't have to be a deal-breaker. Yes, exercise can feel monotonous sometimes, but guess what? You can still get it done, even if you're not excited about it.

 

The workaround: do it anyways! If the tough love doesn’t work, and you're feeling stuck in a rut, mix things up a bit. Grab a friend(s) to join you (virtually or in-person) or try "temptation bundling". This method, coined by behavioral scientist Katherine Milkman, pairs activities you love with tasks you find daunting, boring or unpleasant. For example, listen to your favorite podcast or audiobook (or watch your favorite show) exclusively while you exercise. By linking enjoyable activities with exercise, you can increase your chances of sticking with those workouts and making it more fun in the process.  

 

10. We wait to feel motivated.

 

Our motivation levels are high when we first set a goal, but then it wears off. Or, it yo-yos depending on the day and your mood, which is totally normal.

 

Motivation is like the friend that’s down for a good time, but you can’t reliably count on them when you need an ear to listen after a rough day or a ride home from the airport at 11 PM. Discipline, however, is your “ride or die” friend that’s always there, in good times and in bad. 

 

The workaround: Stop chasing motivation and lean in to the discipline if you want to create habits that make you feel better in the long run. Sometimes taking that first step (for example, committing to 10 minutes of activity) is enough to gain momentum. Messy action is better than no action!

 

Conclusion

 

As we hustle through the chaos of mom life, finding the time and energy to prioritize our own health can feel like an uphill battle. Between fighting our brain's resistance and juggling work, family, and everything in between, consistent exercise can easily fall by the wayside. But, by using some of the “hacks” I’ve shared, we can flip the script. Ditching the "all or nothing" mentality, experimenting with strategies like temptation bundling, and leaning into discipline instead of waiting for motivation to strike, can make a big difference.

 

We are worth taking time for ourselves and we CAN take our health back and feel better!

 

Ready to kickstart your journey to better health? Reach out for your free 1-on-1 session where we’ll talk about what’s getting in your way when it comes to your health goals. No strings attached and, at the very least, you’ll have a blueprint to move you forward! You've already spent too much time and energy waiting to feel better. Let's change that. Email me to get a spot on my calendar.

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