I’m not a personal trainer or a fitness expert. I’m not a health coach either. Heck, I don’t even know what muscle groups you’re supposed to work together. I’m just a mom of two little kids who’s had a consistent workout routine for the last four years.
Let me back up a bit.
Four years ago, I was knocking on 30 and hadn’t worked out for years. While exhausted from keeping two small children alive, my mind and body were completely restless.
I became winded from carrying an infant car seat into the store, and I couldn’t hold my 2-year-old for more than a few minutes at a time.
I knew how beneficial adding a workout routine to my life could be, but I had also failed at starting one at least half a dozen times since my first kid was born.
But I was determined for it to be different this time. So, I went about it in an entirely different way. And it worked. Like, it really worked. Four years later, I’m still going strong.
Don’t get me wrong — this isn’t a humblebrag. I’m actually unremarkable in every sense of the word, except for a large Italian nose my grandfather ensured would be passed down for generations to come.
All I’m saying is that I’m a typical mom who wanted a consistent workout routine in her life— and succeeded. So, here are 3 tips for achieving one in your own life.
1. Set the bar — low.
Remember the Millennial classic “Low” by Flo Rida? Once reserved for dancing on tables in your Ugg boots, consider it your new workout anthem. No, I’m not talking squat form — I mean your goals. Set them low, like really low.
I know this may sound counterintuitive, but if you’re anything like me, you’ve broken a promise to yourself on more than one occasion (i.e., almost every day). Like when you try to get up an hour before your kids, but they wake you up instead. Or when you decide to cut carbs, but eat an entire basket of chips and queso at girl’s night.
While decisions like these are harmless at the moment, we slowly begin to believe that we can’t, in fact, do anything we put our minds to.
So, start slow. For me, that looked like working out three times a week. Maybe for you, it’s five times a week, or once a week, or once a month. Whatever it is, set that bar so freakin’ low your goal is 100% fail-safe.
The point here is to build back trust in yourself. A little self-confidence goes a very long way.
2. Find what works for you
At that time, the closest gym was 30 miles from my house. It didn’t matter, though. I had zero desire to set foot inside one ever again. Working out alongside sweaty bros may have been my preference in my twenties, but definitely not anymore.
Getting my giant leaky boobs into a sports bra felt like a nightmare in itself. So, I scoured the internet looking for the perfect at-home workout program.
For the first month or so, my TV was basically the equivalent of a Target dressing room as I tried on different workouts. I finally landed on a free YouTube channel that matched my “just tell me what I need to do” workout style and got me excited-ish to show up.
Maybe you like group fitness classes. Maybe you’re a walker or a runner. Or maybe you like weightlifting. Maybe you’re a bike rider or a fancy bike rider (I see you, Peloton). Hey, maybe you don’t know what you like. That’s okay!
Be patient and take the time to find something you love, like a Gen Z-er on a gap year. Once you do, it’ll be that much easier to show up consistently.
3. Just get started
In the movie “We Bought a Zoo,” Matt Damon’s character says the now-famous line,
“You know, sometimes all you need is 20 seconds of insane courage.”
While this may be an overly dramatic example, it’s precisely the level of commitment it took me to succeed with my workout routine — 20 seconds. As soon as I press play on the workout, I’m locked in like a nauseated kid on a rollercoaster. There’s only one way off the ride — after it’s over.
Sure, I’ve pressed pause to catch my breath or attend to someone’s screaming, but it’s non-negotiable: if I start a workout, I have no other option but to finish it.
Someone once told me, “Desire doesn’t mean discipline.” That stuck with me. There are days when you’re not going to want to press play, or put your gym shoes on, or get in your car to go to the gym. Those are the days you take your 20 seconds of courage and do it anyway.
On multiple occasions, I’ve worked out barefoot in pajamas as a kind of whiny self-protest, like, “Fine. I’ll do it, but you can’t make me put shoes on . . . or a bra.” I never said discipline had to be dignified.
Oh, and here’s a bonus tip. Tie your workout routine to your kid’s iPad time.
You work out; they get iPad time. You don’t work out; they don’t get iPad time. You’ll never find a more encouraging accountability partner than your kid at that moment.