How to Create a Workout Routine (For Real This Time)

Last updated: 01-30-2021

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How to Create a Workout Routine (For Real This Time)

Hi. I’m Carolyn. I’m the editor in chief of SELF and the host of our wellness advice podcast, Checking In. In this week’s episode, we’re talking about how to create a workout routine (that you actually stick to), and what tools may help make exercise a lifelong habit.

Today’s question comes from Monica. She says she knows she should develop a fitness and exercise routine—but she just can't find the motivation to get started. “I literally have everything,” Monica says. “My sister-in-law gave us a stationary bike. I have a treadmill. My daughter was into ballet, so I bought her a ballet bar...I have a stability ball...I just haven't had the motivation, or honestly, it almost feels like even the desire to work out.” Monica wants to reap the mental and physical health benefits of exercise, but she’s having trouble turning that desire into an actual workout routine.

New episodes of Checking In come out every Monday. Listen to this week’s episode above, and get more episodes of Checking In on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

A lot of people, myself included, can relate to Monica’s question. Even as the editor in chief of a health and fitness magazine, I struggle enormously with working out on any regular basis at all. I know it’s good for me. I have all the stuff I need. And I just can’t bring myself to do it.

For this episode, I spoke with Amy Eisinger, SELF’s digital director. Amy is a certified trainer and has written a lot about fitness and motivation. “We want fitness to be a lifelong practice that grows with you, that changes with you," she says. "In the same way that the food you consume changes, where you live changes. And that's kind of how I look at fitness.”

Amy also says that motivation isn’t necessarily the best framework to use when thinking about building a workout routine. Instead, she likes to think about developing habits. If something is a habit, it doesn’t matter much if you feel like doing it or not. It becomes an act like brushing your teeth or making breakfast—it’s just something you do.

“It’s kind of like moods,” Amy says. “You have days where you feel like you're on point and really crushing it. And then you have days where you're like, I just need to get through the day. Your workouts can be like that too. You can have workouts where you feel like you pushed yourself to that next level. And then you have days where you're like, I just want to get through it. And that's where the habit comes in.”

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