It’s an all-too-common theme in the world of personal fitness: after a great start, too many fall off the exercise wagon and need that extra push to get back on track. This vicious cycle of starting a new workout regimen, working out everyday for a few weeks, and then falling off track or burning out too quickly is a pattern most everybody deals with at some point or another.  For years I struggled to find that healthy balance of maintaining my fitness without overdoing it or burning myself out. Through those many, and sometimes difficult, years I have found there are two key factors that are critical to finding and maintaining a healthy relationship with exercise, your mindset toward exercise and using variety physical activities to stay engaged in your fitness journey.

            For years I viewed working out as punishment. I always felt out of place working out at gyms and I would feel exhausted just thinking about having to cram another session into my daily schedule. I would fret over the extra time I would have to spend waking up early or ending my day later, getting ready for my workout, driving to the gym, driving back home, etc. It would get to the point where the mental preparation would be more exhausting than the routine and there was always an excuse as to why I could not complete my workout that day. There was every intention of completing a workout the next day, but as the week progressed that one missed workout turned into five missed workouts, and I felt like I had failed. It was all in my head. The brain has a magnificent way of helping us avoid doing those tasks that are uncomfortable and he seed of procrastination is often found in the particulars. If the timing wasn’t right, if I was sore, if I couldn’t exercise at the gym, how effective could the workout be? Too frequently it was just so easy to let my routine slide and feed into a reinforcing pattern of neglect.

            It was not until much later on my path of personal fitness that I truly started to understand how I needed to look at what it meant to ‘workout’. But first I had to fall hard. I had lost 80 lbs and was in perhaps the best physical condition of my life, but I still viewed exercise as a chore. Before long, I had fallen into that same well-worn trap; I had stopped working out I and started to gain back the weight. Even though I knew what needed to be done to get back on track I had a mental block. I remember thinking was it always going to feel this difficult to maintain my weight. It was not until 2018 when I truly started to focus on my health and physical fitness in a different way. I always thought of working out as something that I needed to do to achieve a goal, in my case weight loss. But it wasn’t until I started to view my commitment to personal fitness as part of my physical health, as a priority in my life, as a sort of daily routine, like brushing my teeth, that I began to reorient my relationship with exercise in a more positive way and liberating way. Exercise transformed from a task I dreaded I had to perform to a facet of my life that brought me joy and self-confidence. I had found the right mindset when focusing on physical health. The shift in my perspective also transferred to other areas of my health. Instead of focusing on the number on the scale, I started focusing on how my strength was improving or if I was able to increase the amount of weight in my strength training sessions. It’s the benchmarks, the sign posts on the journey to self discovery, that drive my success much further than the end in itself ever could.

            There was a time when I would only do intense cardio and heavy resistance training for my workouts. The feeling that if I were unable to go into a gym, I could not have a good workout was ever-present and suffocating. But this could not be further from the truth. I started to explore ways I could get in a quick workout that was challenging but I did not require a squat rack, barbell, cable machines, and dumbbells. I challenged myself to complete a different style of workout each week. To my surprise to really enjoyed the switch up and I noticed improvements with my range of motion and flexibility by incorporating HITT, Pilates, Plyometric, and Yoga into my routine. I also realized my workouts did not always need to be an hour or longer. I could get in an intense workout in 30 minutes and carry on with my day. If you think about how much time the average person spends on their phone these days, 30 minutes is completely obtainable. I also discovered I enjoyed getting out of the gym setting and exploring the different hiking trails our city has to offer. Just this weekend I was catching up with a friend and we ended up walking 12 km without even realizing how far we had gone. Normally, we would have grabbed a coffee and sat somewhere to chat. So, you see, it is the small changes that can help keep you consistent in your workouts if you plan and prioritize your time to incorporate fitness as being part of your daily life; personal fitness isn’t a task but rather a lifestyle and It’s never a bad idea to try something new to keep those moments vibrant and engaging.

            With the switch up in my workout routine this sparked a new interest in me to explore different training methods. I must admit first and foremost I enjoy resistance training but the benefits of giving my body new challenges have really paid off. I find the break from resistance training allows for a longer recovery time between workout sessions. This has created a healthy balance as well as the added benefit of targeting specific muscles groups, improving endurance, range of motion, and flexibility. Whatever your fitness goals are its important to enjoy the process of maintaining a balanced healthy lifestyle. Finding your passion for physical activity and have fun with it is the real key to maintaining your health. Explore different ways of incorporating physical activity into your daily life and remember recovery time is just as important as training sessions.

Author Bio

My name is Megan Rodgers. I am a first-year student in the Personal Fitness Trainer (PFT) program at NAIT. I entered the PFT program in 2019, leaving a diverse business career of over 13 years, focused primarily in the public sector.

I have a passion for fitness and building partnerships with people to help implement change in their life to live a healthier lifestyle.

I started on my own fitness journey a few years ago. I had tried everything on my own, but nothing would stick. One day, I contacted a personal trainer, and it was the best thing I ever did for myself. This had such an impact on my life, I want to do the same for other.  One of my greatest accomplishments to date is losing 80lbs through proper nutrition and exercise.

I currently reside in Edmonton, Alberta with my husband Ryan and our two cats and two dogs.