Prioritizing your physical health during these uncertain times is SO important. When we started out in 2020, we had no idea we would have to adapt our lifestyles in the ways that we have.
A lot of gyms had to close down during the pandemic and while some have reopened, maybe you made the decision to freeze or cancel your membership until the situation improves. Or maybe you’re not a gym-goer but would really like to improve your physical health.
Either way, if you’re ready to start or restart a fitness routine, here are some tips to help you work out from home and stay motivated.
Disclaimer: These tips worked for me, but that I am not a doctor or a fitness expert.
You will always have an excuse to not do something. But if you REALLY want something you will do what it takes. Make a decision to commit and figure out your WHY. For me, working out helps me relieve stress, improves my mood and my overall mental health. It also gives me energy to conquer my goals and dreams.
Your why might be similar or different. And if you can’t think of something you can always default to “our body is a blessing that Allah has bestowed on us and it is our responsibility to nourish it and take care of it.” Regardless, think about what your why is and write it down somewhere you can easily go back to, whether that’s in your phone’s notes app, or in your journal or on a sticky note near your bed.
Rome wasn’t built in a day. Take baby steps in the beginning. This could mean walking or doing low-impact workouts. Go easy on your body at first and then slowly add in heavier weights, longer workouts, more speed, etc. This is good for habit-building as well as injury prevention.
What works for someone else might not work for you. Find a type of movement that speaks to you and start there. There are so many ways to move your body and get a good workout in: dancing, barre, pilates, yoga, HIIT, kickboxing, cycling, running, walking, etc. The good thing is you don’t even need equipment for a lot of these. Now that we are almost a year into this pandemic, there are so many no-equipment, bodyweight workouts out there you can choose from. Try out new things and pick what works for you.
Once you have decided to commit to your fitness, you’ve got to keep yourself accountable or find someone who will. It’s easy to slip on our goals and when you feel that happening, it helps to have someone there check up on you and help get you back on track. I love using my Apple watch because I can share my activity with family members and friends. But you really don’t need any tech to do this. You can use a workout journal or speak to a friend about becoming your accountability partner.
Set up a space in your home that you can dedicate to your workouts. This doesn’t have to be a lot of space, it can simply be a place that’s big enough to fit a yoga mat. Pick a time of day to work out and let it be known to others around you that this is your workout time. We all have lots of responsibilities and since home and work are one and the same right now, it helps to set boundaries.
Another way to set yourself up for success is to focus on instigation habits. An instigation habit is what cues you to automatically do something. A 2015 study by Iowa State University showed that it's the instigation habit that increases exercise frequency. An example of this is putting on your exercise clothes. The instigation habit gets you to your yoga mat, treadmill or whatever it is you do for exercise without getting in your head. Your focus isn’t on working out, but instead, on getting your exercise clothes on.
It can get pretty boring to do the same kind of workout over and over again, even if you love it. It’s good to switch things up when this happens, plus it’s good for your body. I switch between my Peloton bike, fitness apps and YouTube videos. You can also take your workout outside, if the weather permits. There are plenty of workouts you can do outdoors. If you haven’t been physically active for a while, start out with a walk around the block or a short hike. If you are more advanced, go for a run or grab a yoga mat and do a HIIT workout on the grass. Since we are limited with where we can work out from, changing your scenery will spice things up.
It can be easy to get caught up in the numbers when it comes to fitness: calories, pounds, distance, BMI, etc. Shift your mindset so that you are viewing movement as medicine and fuel for your body and mind.
It’s going to take some time before you see your hard work and sweat pay off. Remember that when you feel like giving up or when you feel like nothing is changing. If you put in the work, it will pay off. Promise! Be kind to yourself. And say some positive affirmations like the ones below when you look at yourself in the mirror:
I AM getting stronger and stronger everyday.
I CAN do this.
I DESERVE to feel healthy and vibrant.
No matter how small they might be, celebrate your wins. Did you get through five push-ups on your toes? Amazing! Take a moment to acknowledge yourself and how far you have come. This is a motivating factor that will push you to get stronger and to keep going.
Starting or restarting a fitness routine can be intimidating but know that you’ve got this! Follow these tips and do the mindset work, and you will be unstoppable.
Omama Altaleb is the founder of Layali, which is an uplifting lifestyle blog and brand for Muslim women. She also works as a Social Media Specialist for U.S. News & World Report. Previously, she was working in the personal development industry as a Social Media Specialist and Content Creator. She is an award-winning journalist and loves to produce and spread uplifting, motivational content. She also runs a couple’s lifestyle blog along with her husband called Their Wild Life. You can follow Layali on Instagram here.