Welcome to September—a time of new beginnings and fresh starts, including school years, life chapters, work projects, and healthy habits. Perhaps William Shakespeare said it best (as he often did) that “action is eloquence.”
If part of your September action plan includes getting back on the yoga mat or into the gym after time away this summer, here are a few tips to help reignite your fitness fire.
- Schedule workouts like a review with your boss…because they are. A workout is a daily check-in of your mental and physical health, and you are the boss of this operation. Just as you wouldn’t skip a review, nor would you show up late or anything less than alert, the same goes for exercise when you’re serious about getting back into a routine. Plan your workouts at the beginning of each week, and stick to them. Why? Because the boss (that’s you) said so.
- Play favorites by finding the yoga teachers, fitness instructors, coaches, and workout partners who lift you up. If you know that a certain person always gives you energy, motivation, and mind/body mojo, seek out him/her. Plant yourself in her class; buy his DVD; sign up for her private lessons. Being a little choosy about your workout experience will make recommitting to healthy habits feel more like a treat than a travail, and the added excitement this person offers will help propel you forward, like a cyclist drafting off the peleton.
- Re-load your iPod. Question: how often have you heard, “I can’t wait to get on the treadmill and let my tired, year-old, playlist lull me into bored tears of musically induced exhaustion.” Answer: never.
- Gear up. If you were recommitting to your art, you’d treat yourself to some bright new paint colors. If you were reviving a music hobby, you’d tune your guitar. If you’re a runner, invest in some badass sneakers. If you’re a swimmer, spend a little extra on a swimsuit that makes you feel fast as hell. It’s not materialistic; it’s energetic. If you want to do something regularly and well, you need to feel good doing it.
- Commit to a long-term relationship. Let’s not have a Groupon fling with a yoga studio we don’t enjoy. Save the unused gym membership statistic for someone else. Don’t be a one-session-stand with your personal trainer. Think long-term from the start by committing to a program. This doesn’t mean more cash outlay, although you may want to invest in a 6-week rock-climbing class or outdoor bootcamp to get you fired up about doing something fresh and new with your fitness routine. You could also simply say to your running partner or yoga bud: how about we meet every Tuesday night through Columbus Day?
- Sleep in your yoga/workout clothes. If the only time you have for exercise is the early morning, sleep in your clothes or, at least, lay them out the night before. Pack your gym or yoga bag; fill your water bottle. Set the timer on your coffee machine. (I don’t drink coffee or successfully operate coffeemakers, but I hear this can be done. Go with it). Legendary hoops coach John Wooden once said, “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.” Here, here.
- Reward yourself. To be clear, you need to be creating healthy habits for YOU. Not to score a date. Not to fit into a pair of skinny jeans. Not for an ice cream reward. And I want to underscore this last point: food rewards are for puppies. You are not a puppy. You are a fully formed, full of potential, bright light to many, wonderful human being. Workout for your own personal health and happiness. However, if you need a little positive reinforcement, stick with non-food splurges such as a reflexology treatment for your tired feet, sports massage, or latest fitness gadget.
- Watch this. If it doesn’t fire you up in some way, then I got nothing…
- Make it karmic. Nothing has meaning until we make it so, and one fail-proof way to add meaning to your workouts is by dedicating them to others when you train for a charity walk or run, day of yoga, or bike race. These experiences can be life-changing for everyone involved and a great way to exercise not just your physical body but also your spirit.
- Before each yoga class, workout, or run, ask yourself: how do I want to feel afterward? Your answer will inspire your action. Make it eloquent. Make it wonderful. Make it kick ass.