Getting started with a new fitness routine can be a challenge. Many people find that they feel motivated to begin with, but quickly begin to feel overwhelmed and give up on the positive new habits they wanted to create. Others struggle to get started at all. If either of these experiences sounds familiar to you, you might have noticed that you often procrastinate instead of taking action.
This is normal, but it can be overcome! If you want to achieve your fitness goals, it’s important to learn to beat procrastination and–as Nike likes to say–”just do it!”
Read on for some top tips to help you get started on your fitness journey, minimize procrastination, and stay on track.
Set Specific Goals
The first step to overcoming procrastination is to know what you want to achieve. It can be tempting to be vague, but setting clear and specific goals will serve you much better. When you have a challenging but achievable goal in mind and a date by which you want to achieve it, you are far more likely to take action.
So instead of saying "I want to get fit," you might set a specific goal such as "I want to be able to run a 5k by the end of the year." Instead of “I want to lose weight,” your goal might be “I want to lose 10lb in the next three months.” The best health and fitness goals are SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant (to your needs or overall journey), and time-bound.
Once you have a specific goal, you can begin to break it down into the steps you’ll need to take to achieve it. Which brings us to our next tip…
Create a Schedule
Once you know what you want to achieve, you can start deciding how you will achieve it. Creating a schedule helps you to visualize the journey from where you are now to where you want to be. It also helps you to allocate time for fitness into your week.
Set aside the appropriate amount of time each day or week for your workouts, and treat those sessions as non-negotiable appointments. If you have a set time for your workout that is planned in advance, you're less likely to procrastinate and more likely to follow through. You can help yourself by getting prepared–if you know you’ve got a morning workout scheduled, why not pack your exercise clothes, post-workout snack, and recovery wear the night before to save yourself time when you get up?
Scheduling your workouts also helps you to see what pockets of free time you have, which can help you to overcome the ever-present “I’m too busy” excuse.
Having an accountability partner can be a great way to overcome procrastination. Working out with a friend can also make exercise much more fun! So why not find someone else who is struggling with motivation and buddy up to support one another?
Once you’ve found a fitness buddy, make a plan to check in with one another regularly. When you have someone external to hold you accountable, you're more likely to stay on track and less likely to procrastinate. You’ll also have someone to celebrate your successes and milestones with. It’s a win-win!
Have you ever failed to start a project or task because it seemed too big? If so, you’re far from alone. One of the biggest reasons people procrastinate is because they feel overwhelmed by the enormity of a task or by not knowing where to start.
If you're new to fitness, it can be tempting to dive in headfirst and try to do too much too soon. However, this can lead to burnout and make it more difficult to stay on track. It also puts you at greater risk of sustaining an injury.
Instead, start small. Instead of pledging to go to the gym every day, how about twice per week? Instead of trying to run a mile if you have never run before, start by walking a mile and then build things up from there. Begin with a simple workout routine that you can realistically stick to, and gradually increase the intensity and duration as your fitness improves.
In the modern world, there are countless distractions and pulls on our time, attention, and energy. Have you ever intended to go for a run, then checked your phone and been sucked into an Instagram or TikTok hole instead? Us, too!
If you want to overcome procrastination, you need to eliminate distractions. Set boundaries for yourself, such as not watching TV until your workout is completed or only checking your social media channels for ten minutes during your lunch break. You might have to be strict with yourself at first, but if you get rid of those distractions, your new healthy habits will soon be second nature.