You want to workout more often? You want to get in better shape? You want to lose weight? You want to fit into your clothes better? You want to feel more confident about yourself? You want to live more adventurously? You want to have more energy? You want to become a more disciplined person? You want to improve your daily mood? You want to look and feel more healthy?
I have mentioned many times that I have been running every day for the past 7 months and I have fallen in love with it for all of the above reasons and many more. It truly has been one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life and has made such a difference in every area of my life.
I’ve been asked the “how” question many times. How do I find the time? How do I find the energy, the desire, the motivation? The simple answer is I make the time. I find the energy. I do it whether I desire it or not and I’m motivated by the commitment that I’ve made to myself.
That all sounds so wonderful and lovely, and it’s so easy to say. But trust me, if you make a commitment to workout everyday, it will be anything but easy. You might get strep throat (like I did, twice). It might be 0 degrees out (like it was today). Your dad might die (day 103 for me). You might have to work a 15 hour day (I’ve done this a couple times). Your kids might be sick and need to snuggle with you (all. the. time.). You might have an injury causing you pain (toe, groin, finger, calf, foot for me). You may be sore (two days after a very hilly half marathon made me cry). You will have a million very valid excuses and reasons to take a rest day, but if you make a commitment, you just suck it up and show up.
Here are my top suggestions for how to overcome your excuses and create the habit to workout every single day.
Make your goal attainable.
My goal is to run at least one mile every single day. I started with the goal of 41 days and I just haven’t felt like stopping. I’ve also added in the additional goal of running outside every single day. I’m hoping to go a whole year at this point. 366 days of running outside every day in Northern Indiana (yay for leap year) is certainly a good way to add some extra adventure in your life. One mile takes me approximately 10 minutes. Some days I run more, but I always get at least a mile.
If you want to workout every single day you need to set your goal at a very manageable level. Maybe for you it’s 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes. Think about your life, your current workout levels, and your time commitments and responsibilities to determine how much time you can commit to each day. Remember to consider the extra time needed for changing clothes, showering, and whatever else you might need to do to get ready and wrap things up. You can always do more than your minimum, but on the crazy days, you need to make sure you can fit in at least the minimum.
With my goal, I know I’ll at least get about 70 minutes of exercise in each week. It’s not a huge amount, but it’s far more than I used to get. And most weeks there are 3-4 days that I go over my minimum goal and get a lot more miles and time accumulated.
Commit to something you enjoy.
Let me state first and foremost that I didn’t always enjoy running and there are many runs that I don’t enjoy. In the beginning, I mostly just enjoyed how I felt when I was done running. The run itself was rarely enjoyable. Now, I’ve learned to enjoy the actual act of running itself a lot more, but even that doesn’t happen everyday. Like back a couple weeks ago when I had strep throat, there wasn’t anything about any of it that I enjoyed. But running is an activity that I know I enjoy at least sometimes (now, most of the time), so it’s a good fit for me.
If you hate running, don’t make it your goal to run everyday. Make your goal to do zumba everyday, or yoga everyday, or ride a bike everyday, or you can make your goal really broad and just have a goal to workout every single day. This gives you the flexibility to do whatever you want each day so you can always find something to enjoy. My only caution is to work out some kind of guidelines to make sure you are actually challenging yourself. I could hold a few stretches for ten minutes and call it a day, but I don’t think that would really be considered a good workout.
Know the obstacles and excuses you will face. Look ahead on your calendar and make sure you know what’s coming up so you can work around any time commitments that are going to make it difficult to get your workout done.
I have two small children who can’t be left alone and can’t join me on a run in -19 degree wind chill days, so I always have to make sure someone is available to watch my kids while I go for a run. Most of the time I run while they’re in school/daycare or my husband is home to watch them, but sometimes I have to make other arrangements that need advance planning.
Since my goal is to run outside everyday, I’m constantly watching the weather app on my phone to plan out when the best time is each day to go for my run. Many times I have to run in less than ideal conditions, but I’d much rather rearrange some things on my calendar if I can, to avoid running during a thunderstorm or other treacherous weather conditions.
I’ve also learned the importance of keeping up with my laundry so I always have clean clothes to wear on my runs. If I go somewhere away from home and haven’t gone for my run yet that day, I pack a bag of running clothes so I can get out for my run whenever and wherever I am. No one said you have to workout at home (or at the gym), be ready whenever the opportunity presents itself.
Most days I get dressed in my running clothes as soon as I get up. There are many days that getting dressed for my run is the hardest part, so I take out that obstacle by already being dressed.
Find an accountability partner.
Throughout the past 238 days of running I have had many people join me for a run streak of their own. They’ve all started at different times and most have ended their streak by now. But I have one friend who started with me on day 1 and we are still going strong, together. I would have given up long ago if I was doing this by myself. But I’m not. Everyday I know my friends are pushing themselves to get their run in too and I don’t want to let them down. Support and accountability are crucial. Find someone who believes in you and will encourage you to keep going on the hard days, you will absolutely need it.
Get enough sleep.
The reason that most people don’t have energy is because they don’t get enough sleep. Sufficient sleep = sufficient energy. It really is that simple. If you are not sleeping at least 7-8 hours every single night, make that your priority. I promise you will feel better and life will be much easier (and more productive). Go to bed. Get some sleep. And enjoy how much easier it is to function when your body is rested.
Track your progress.
I track all of my runs with the MapMyFitness app and later transfer them into a spreadsheet so I can quickly see how many miles I’ve run, how many minutes, and how much I’ve improved. If you’re going to put in the work, keep track of what you’re doing so you can be proud of yourself (and see what areas might need more attention).
Reward yourself (during and after).
Not necessarily with cookies and junk food, but other things you love. Before I started my running streak, I worked out on the elliptical quite often. When I did an elliptical workout I would let myself watch a TV show. I rarely watch TV, so this was a big treat that I looked forward to when I worked out.
These days I reward myself with a hot cup of tea or hot cocoa on cold days. I sometimes reward myself with new running clothes and gear when I hit a new milestone or get through a hard patch (my recent strep throat misery resulted in 5 awesome new running head bands, courtesy of myself, one for each day I ran with a fever).
Think about what kinds of things would motivate you to get through a hard day and figure out how to reward yourself with those things. Just make sure your reward doesn’t sabotage your progress. My sister and I used to reward ourselves with Long John Silvers every time we left the gym. Might I suggest that that kind of reward is a bad idea.
Just put in the effort and workout every single day.
Here’s the deal, making a commitment to workout every single day is a big deal. It will be really hard. But for me, the results have proven to be absolutely worth it. I know some people aren’t as absolute in their commitment to workout everyday, and that’s fine too. One woman I know makes it her goal to workout everyday, but allows herself to take a rest day if she needs to. This way she gets a workout in at least 4-5 days a week, which is exactly what she wants. Maybe you can make that your approach if the no excuses, hardcore approach feels a little too intense for you.
Find what works for you and your lifestyle. I just want to be clear, when you try to make working out a habit, it will be hard. There will be challenges and obstacles and a million excuses. But habits are only formed when you bust through the challenges, overcome the obstacles, and quit making excuses. If you want to change your life, you have to be willing to put in the work. I promise you though, amazing results will be waiting for you on the other side.