How to Start Your Own Exercise Regimen and Stick to It

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  1. Make the time. It might seem like you don’t have enough time in your day for exercise, but you probably do – you just have to make it a priority. Here are some ways to do it.

    • Set an appointment. Pick out the times when you want to exercise, and schedule ahead. Keep your appointment with yourself ironclad, and don’t let other engagements interfere. If you keep a calendar on your phone or computer, set alarms that will remind you of your workout time.
    • Replace a habit. Most of us have some unnecessary and not particularly enjoyable habit, such as watching TV, that could be replaced by (or added on to) exercising. Ask yourself how much time you spend on this habit, and whether or not you could exercise at the same time. If the answer is yes, make a new rule that stipulates (for instance) that you can only watch television if you’re exercising at the same time.
    • Use it as social time. If you have a standing appointment with a friend or family member to spend time together, see if he or she is willing to incorporate exercise into that time. Instead of doing step aerobics together, though, consider doing a more social activity, like playing a game such as tennis or dancing.
    • Routine is the key. After about 2 weeks of the routine, you will find it a lot less of a chore.
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    Find an activity you enjoy. If you like exercising, you’re more likely to stick with it. Not all workouts are at a gym: try biking, inline skating, rowing, skateboarding, swimming, hockey, or a rugby team; you could even dance in your bedroom with an iPod. Enjoyment is the key to sticking with it.

    • If you get bored while you exercise, try participating in a more social activity such as a team or intramural sport.
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    Stay accountable. Keep track of when you exercise and for how long. Make notes in your calendar, or keep an exercise journal. Writing down what you actually do will keep you accountable and show you how hard you’re actually working. Additionally, looking back and seeing how much you’ve done can create an inspiring sense of accomplishment.
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    Start with reasonable goals. Don’t set out to start a rigorous regimen right from the beginning. Instead, start exercising at a reasonable pace and increase as soon as you stop feeling challenged. Try 30 minutes, three times a week and see how you feel.

    • Avoid burnout. Working yourself too hard at first can lead to muscle strain and fatigue, and associating exercise with pain can make you more reluctant to work out next time.
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    Track your measurements. Instead of keeping track of your exercise success by how much weight you lose, try keeping a soft tape measure handy and measuring your waist and hip size. You might build muscle and gain weight, but you’ll lose inches.

    • Write down your measurements. As you start to trim up, seeing your progress can increase your confidence.
    • Measure your neck, arms and ankles as well.
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    Learn. If you are shooting to lose weight, you must learn to eat healthily. Don’t “fall into” a diet. You would “fall out” eventually. Things like weight watchers can help you learn, but I simply recommend developing a lifestyle you will want to keep, and using your common sense. See tips for more help.
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    Drink water! Drinking water is absolutely the best thing you can do for your body. Always bring water to your workout sessions. Remember not to drink excessive amounts of plain water after strenuous workouts – your body loses salts through sweat, and too much plain water can help to flush out whatever is left. Sports drinks can be helpful for intense workouts, but consider the sugar content if your goal is to lose weight.

    • Drink enough water to replace what is lost. Amount will vary based on your body weight, climate, effort level, etc. Dehydration would slow your weight-loss goals, increase danger of muscle tears, and could make you feel nauseated. Avoid coffee and soda drinks, for better results.
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    Stay motivated. As you keep working out and building up your strength, your workouts will probably become easier. Don’t allow yourself to get complacent, though – as soon as your current regimen feels easy, change it up and try something different.