It’s wet. You’re busy. You feel unfit. We all know the common exercise excuses as we’ve all used them.

So what tips can we take from consistent exercisers to help us keep moving?

You know those people who, regardless of weather or personal circumstances, still get out on their bike or out for that walk?

What can we learn from them? Whether you’re a comeback exerciser or at it a while, consistency appears to be the key word. We’re not saying that these people don’t get sick or miss a few sessions; they’re human after all.

They just always get back to it, even if they don’t particularly feel ‘in the mood’ (yes, they push themselves back, but they are so convinced of the feelgood factor, and the other benefits, that it’s an easy enough choice).

The other crucial thing is to focus on benefits that are not just about your weight or how your body looks. The changes can be subtle and do take time, but hopefully you’re going to see a big change by spring or summer, but it’s important to focus on the other pay-offs of regularly moving. Try to forget using exercise as only a weight loss strategy.

Why?

Because the research clearly demonstrates that people who exercise purely for weight loss just don’t sustain it for as long or as consistently as those who exercise for other reasons, such as better mood and reduced stress.

So find new reasons to move; try writing them down today. And follow our top 5 tips to keep yourself going, even when it gets hard.

5 Tips to Help you Stay on Track with Exercise

1. Like your Workouts

It may seem obvious but not everyone gets this right, which holds them back more than they realise (and often even leads to them giving up). Finding a type – and a way – of exercising means you’ll enjoy and prioritise it, plus you’re much more likely to stick at it long term.

Hate running?

Skip it.

Feel self-conscious at the gym?

Don’t go.

Instead, find a local dance class or workout at home to your favourite music and have fun with it – yes, we said fun!

Hate exercising in the evening?

Get up half an hour earlier.

It’s simple. You have 168 hours in a week so half an hour every day is very doable for most of us. Don’t be mistaken into thinking it has to be complicated or miserable or massively time consuming: make it fun and it’s going to lift your day (never mind help to tone you up, burn calories and get your brain primed for making better choices).

2. Have Regular Check-ins
Your weekly appointment with your weight loss consultant is key. Monitoring progress is an important strategy because it provides feedback that allows you to modify your behavior accordingly.

Your consultant will discuss exercise and how you plan to schedule it into your week. By making a simple and realistic commitment to exercise, say two to three times in the week ahead, you are much more likely to stick with it – particularly if you plan ahead when exactly it will take place (like any other appointment in your diary).

And don’t forget to bring your food diary along to discuss it with your consultant (always be honest as it’s in your interest and it’s the way you learn from mistakes) because, as we know, you can’t exercise off a bad diet so an accurate picture of your food intake is crucial to understanding the week just gone, and your endeavours for the week ahead.

Read our 4 reasons why you can’t out-exercise a bad diet here.

3. Schedule Rest Days

You’ll burn yourself out if you’re in the gym 7 days each week, plus it’s actually important to have days off in order to help those muscles repair and rebuild. When you lift weights, you’re essentially tearing muscle fibres. But without a proper period of rest for your immune system to repair and grow the muscle, you’re not going to get the benefit of that training. That’s also why you need to vary the muscle groups you engage on staggered days.

One to two days rest each week is ideal for those who engage in intense activity such as gym classes, running or cycling (although more moderate exercisers, such as those who walk, can do it daily). We know you want it NOW but be patient. You’ll get there. Try to notice the small changes in your body. Perhaps your arms jiggle a little less? Is your bum less saggy? Perhaps you’ve more shape to your thighs, or your middle section is a bit more compact?

All these little changes should be noted and celebrated along the way (you might even think about taking monthly progress pics to document them?).

4. Set Training Goals
Basing everything on what the scales says can be a pretty miserable journey, especially if you let that number dictate your mood. Set training goals instead (or fat loss goals). When you strive to be fitter, healthier and stronger, it’s massively rewarding.

One method of measurement you might consider is to track your blood pressure (it should decrease with regular exercise) or resting pulse (a lower pulse can be a sign of good fitness, although don’t be disheartened if yours is naturally high like mine, as that can be genetic). It’s possible to lower your resting pulse with regular, cardiovascular exercise.

Also, your weight loss consultant will take three measurements on a monthly basis: for women, across the bust, the mid-section and the things and bum and, for men, the chest, middle and on the belt.

These are wonderful targets to focus on (remembering that the ideal middle measurement for women is 32 inches or under (so women who are in the 32-35 category are overweight; and women in the 35 inches and more category are obese), while for men the ideal is to get 37 inches or less (with those 37-40 being overweight and 40+ being obese).

5. Be Inspired and Inspire!
If you’re lagging behind and feeling demotivated when it comes to exercise, check out some of our success stories to inspire you. How about Mary O’Gormon, who lost 5 stone and 5 Ibs? Or what about Michael Deehan who lost four stone?

Also, you could aim to be a hero(ine) for someone else struggling with their weight loss, by becoming a success story yourself. This doesn’t have to be out there for everyone to read (although we are always thrilled when people ask can they feature on our site of course!).

It’s time to wake up and realise that you could be inspiring other people who are very close to you, and you might not even know it. They may not say it (sometimes people think it’s rude to mention your weight loss, but try not to be offended), but your friend, neighbour, partner, colleague or an acquaintance might actually be encouraged by your example. When they see that you are enjoying healthy, delicious food and that you’re even enjoying exercise (maybe for the first time), they’re likely to be inspired to give it a try too!

Blog Post by Maebh Coyle