This story is part of New Year, New You, everything you need to develop healthy habits that will last all the way through 2020 and beyond.
How many times have you tried to start a workout plan in earnest on Jan. 1 only to give up the effort a few weeks later? We all want to exercise consistently and get in shape, but there are a million legitimate reasons not to -- time, childcare duties and lack of energy, just to name a few. The good news is that all of these barriers to working out have simple and effective solutions, so with a bit of forethought and planning you can finally make 2020 the year you get fit.
You work 40 hours a week with a commute, have young kids and like to relax every once in a while -- where the heck are you supposed to find time to work out?
The good news is, you don't have to carve out five hours a week to dedicate to your fitness goals. You can get fit just by completing an intense 20-minute workout a few times a week, or you could exercise at home to skip an extra commute to the gym. If you still feel like your schedule is packed, keep an honest log for a week of how you spend your time, and try cutting out time-wasters like endless social media scrolling or excessive Netflix bingeing.
Gym memberships, studio classes, trendy workouts like SoulCycle and luxury exercise bikes all cost valuable cash. Luckily, you don't need to spend any of this money or buy any equipment to get in shape.
Bodyweight exercises are a great equipment-free way to get strong. For cardio exercise, you can do high-intensity interval sessions in your bedroom, go for a walk or jog outside, or even dance in your bedroom. You don't even have to turn off Netflix to get a good workout in.
Anxiety or a fear of being judged
Unfortunately, Planet Fitness's Lunk Alarm isn't too far off from reality. With judgy gym bros and cruel teenagers who laugh at your attempts to run on the street from inside their comfortable cars, (wait, was that too specific?) trying to get fit is a surprisingly harrowing experience.
One simple solution is to work out at home. With bodyweight exercises and inventive cardio, you can get fit without stepping foot outside. Or, if you want to take a more long-term approach, you can practice meditation, journaling and positive visualization so that the anxious thoughts don't get the best of you.
If you still want to make it to the gym, try finding a friend who also wants to get in shape. You'll keep each other accountable, and the comfort of having a familiar face nearby will ease the fear of being judged.
Feeling overwhelmed with where to begin
When you set a fitness goal, it often feels insurmountable. There are literally thousands of different workout programs and types of exercises, so it can be hard to pick one over another.
The best way is to start simple. For example, at the start of 2019 I decided that I wanted to do a single pull-up by the end of the year. I had no idea where to start, so I began by doing one minute straight of knee pushups every day -- for an entire month. Once I got used to the routine, I gradually began adding on more specific and complex exercises, and I've already doubled my original goal.
The key is to pick a final destination, then start with the simplest variation of the eventual feat you want to accomplish. Dreaming of running a marathon? Start by walking 20 minutes three times a week. Determined to ride your bike 100 miles? Try cycling to the grocery store every time you go shopping for the next month. Want to lose weight? Simply keep track of what you eat for a week using an app like MyFitnessPal before you start making dietary changes.
If you're on the move a lot for work or other obligations, it's hard to stay in shape. Whenever I travel, the break in routine feels like a free pass to skip my workouts and nutritious eating habits.
One fool-proof way to stay fit is using your hotel's gym (if available), or you can always do a bodyweight workout wherever you are staying. A more exciting way to stay in shape while you travel is to do some on-foot sightseeing -- try signing up for a walking or bicycling tour, or find a free guide to all the best sights online. If you're in an area known for its nature, make it a point to get out for a few hikes.
Let Mirror guide you through your home workoutsSee all photos
Anyone who's swam laps or had to run on a treadmill without headphones knows that exercise can sometimes be dull.
Nowadays, there are several creative ways you can get in shape without stepping foot inside a gym. If your routine gets stale, try rock climbing, acrobatics or even pretending to be a mermaid. Or, if you're confined to the treadmill, explore podcasts, guided runs and interval workouts to spice up the monotony.
It's impossible to turn your back on small children for a second, let alone leaving them to fend for themselves for a full thirty minutes so you can get a workout in. Childcare is expensive and sometimes hard to find, so it makes a lot more sense to let go of exercising until the kids are older.
However, there are a ton of fun ways you can involve the children you take care of in your exercises. My own mom used to strap me into a stroller and roller blade throughout our neighborhood.
Or, you could take them to a local park and work out on the monkey bars while they play. The kids can play in the middle of a track or skip around it while you jog laps, can splash around in a local kiddie pool while you swim laps, or you can throw a dance party in your kitchen for the whole family. If all else fails, plop them in front of the TV while you work out from the comfort of your living room.
Lack of energy
Maybe you have the time, space and know-how to work out, but by the end of the day you're simply too tired to exercise.
If you don't know why you're continually exhausted, try looking at your sleep and hydration habits. Or, you can reset your wake-sleep cycle and get up early to fit in a workout before the stress of the workday foils your plans.
Or, another option could be to simply power through the start of your workout. Exercise, especially cardio, has been shown to increase your energy in the short term, as well as reducing fatigue over time. When you're feeling tired, commit to just five minutes of working out. If you still feel tired after, you can skip it for the day, but you might already feel pepped up and inclined to complete the routine.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.