Solutions to common challenges when starting a fitness routine

by Melody on April 18, 2014

I’m convinced that it’s not getting started with a workout regimen that is the hardest part.  So many of us in a fit of motivation sign up for a class, buy a DVD, start running every day.  This is the honeymoon stage of the relationship.  Things look bright and rosy and promising and we make time for it BECAUSE IT’S IMPORTANT and “THIS TIME IT WILL STICK”.

And then the newness wears off.  It becomes easier to make excuses.  Life gets in the way in the form of our kids, our jobs, the holidays, our car breaks down. Birthday parties need planning and carpets need vacuuming and dinner needs making and the lawn needs mowing.

I “started” a fitness routine approximately 1,984 times.  It was the continuing part that was hard.

It’s definitely not the desire to look and feel better that’s the issue.  I know we all want this.  We all know how to get it, for the most part.  We can try all these fancy diets and pills and JUST WORK OUT ONCE A MONTH AND YOU’LL BE SUPER FIT programs we see on Pinterest.  But we all KNOW what it takes.  Hard work, exercise and cutting out the crap that we shove in our faces.  So why is it that we want so bad to feel better about ourselves, but can’t make it a part of our daily lives?

I’m 99.9% positive you won’t look like Brook Burke with just a 1-minute workout

Is it because we don’t like to sweat?  Is it because pizza is just too good?  It it because we just don’t know where to start?  Is it because we’re embarrassed?  Is it because that beautiful purple bag of Cadbury Mini Eggs is too intoxicating?  Is it because, as women, we’re convinced we will grow ginormous Arnold muscles if we pick up a dumbbell?  WHAT IS IT?

These are some of the biggest challenges we face when it comes to starting and sticking with a workout routine. Some of these I have mastered, some I have to fight everyday, some I just muddle through and hope they work out in the end.


But I don’t have TIME!

You’re going to have to suck this one up.  I have never in my life met a person who is literally “too busy” to make it to the gym or at the very least go for a walk around the block.  I know.  We’re all busy.  We all have preschool pick-up and grocery shopping and careers and teeball and just one more trip to the store for one more thing and doctor’s appointments and oil changes and Girl Scouts and dates to remember and books that are overdue at the library.

We (and I include myself in this giant “WE”) make excuses.  We make time for the “priority” things in our life, but have a hard time making our own fitness and well-being a priority.  There will never in our whole lives be a day that just magically has ENOUGH TIME to fit in a workout.  You have to make it happen.  Put it on your calendar, schedule a class, slap a DVD on for your kids, go walk outside with your dog.  It will never ever ever fall into your lap.

My days are mostly spent running.  Running from preschool to Costco to the gas station back to preschool.  Running home for an hour to blog for five seconds and attempt to start dinner so we can eat at 9 PM after teeball.  Running mostly because I have a class at the gym scheduled in the afternoon.  On occasional Saturdays, I wake up early to enjoy a cup of coffee in the 5:30 AM silence and then head to the class I scheduled at the gym at 9 AM.  Scheduled!  I have to go.  I plan my life around it some days.  But I go.

But I don’t want to run!!!

I get it.  And most days I don’t really either.  But the best part of all the running and all the crazy is that after a good solid workout, I feel like I could conquer the world.  When I don’t work out, I start to feel drained and get that mid-afternoon brain fog.  While my days may be a little hectic, this is the stage of life I am in and this is how working out fits in the picture.  Some day it may be different, but if I want to feel my best, this is what I have to give.

For you, it may be early in the morning or late at night or in the middle of the day while the kids are at school.  Really give your daily calendar a good hard look, I’m willing to bet there is a block of time you could carve out for some kind of sweat.  It’s really and truly and 100% okay if you make a few small sacrifices to squeeze in a workout.


Will I have to take out a second mortgage to join a gym?

There are two sides to this coin.

Number one, working out can cost money.  If you find a gym that you love or classes that perfectly suit you, they may cost more than you want to spend.  Both my husband and I do CrossFit and it’s a healthy chunk of our budget.  But here’s the kicker.  We both LOVE it, we see great results, we’ve found an amazing community and we rarely (if ever) have to convince ourselves to go.  We enjoy every minute of it and suck it dry for all its worth.

This means we make a conscious effort to work it into our monthly budget.  We may have to make small sacrifices in other areas, but we plan around it.  Unless something drastic happened, it would not be the first thing we cut.  Going to the gym for us means better overall health, less doctor’s appointments, little to no medications.  It’s a happy trade-off.

On the other side of the coin, when we first started, we spent little to no money.  Working out does NOT have to cost a fortune and should never be the obstacle that keeps you from starting.

And a zillion other ideas I’m sure my brain is too tired to think of right now.

But where do I put my kids?

So we have these kids, right?  And then people are like “Time to lose the baby weight!”.  But do these people realize that the babies are on the outside now and we actually have to do something with them while we work out?  Who is going to watch them?  Sure they’re sleeping now, but the minute we pop in a DVD, they wake up screaming like we poked them with a branding iron.  Are we resigned to walking with the baby in a stroller for the rest of our lives?


Childcare is a big obstacle.  It is.  Especially when they are teeny tiny.  My kids are 4 and 6 and a little more self-sustaining than a newborn.  We have an unsupervised kids room at our gym where they can play, have lunch, watch movies.  There are generally other kids to hang out with or they are perfectly happy playing together.  They play outside in giant tires and ride scooters and hang from the rings when nobody is working out.

Some larger gyms have supervised childcare that you can pay for or is included in your membership. You can also split time with your spouse or go early in the morning or late at night when they are home to hang out with the kids.

If you can’t swing the cost of a gym or your kids are too young for childcare, consider swapping fitness time with a friend with kids of similar ages.  Working out at home is always an option, although you may have to change your schedule around a little bit to get some uninterrupted fitness time.  We did this for quite some time and I know it’s not easy, but sometimes is the only option.  I’ve done my fair share of workouts with a 30-pound toddler sitting on my chest.

Again, there will be sacrifices.  It’s inevitable.  Anyone who tells you that you can do it all without feeling a slight twinge of guilt is a ginormous liar.  There are days when I feel like I should just be home more or not take my kids to the gym as much as I do or that they should not be watching another Scooby Doo while I attempt to squeeze in some sort of sweat.  I just keep reminding myself that I do this for my health and my sanity and to prevent me from going all bat crazy, which in turns helps my family.


But Melody, I’m tiiiiiiiiiiiiiirrrrrrrrrrrrrred.

Me too.  So TIRED.  Most days, it sounds more awesome to curl up under the covers and watch a movie with a steaming mug of coffee and Bailey’s. (Is that weird in the middle of the afternoon?)  This is why I schedule my gym time.  And I tell my friends I’m going.  And my husband and I make plans around gym time.  I’m not allowed to not go.

I don’t know any other way to combat this than to just follow these steps.

  1. Put your shoes on.
  2. Walk out the door.
  3. Get in your car.
  4. Drive to the gym/track/park/mountain/whatever.

I just drive there and start moving, no matter how much I don’t want to.  And then I feel sweaty and tired and exhausted.  And then I feel exhilarated and still sweaty and kind of awesome.


Bonus tip of the day.  Get out of bed in the morning and put on your workout clothes.  And call it fashion.  Then if you don’t work out, you feel guilty when you take your non-sweaty sports bra off at the end of the day.  Fool proof.

Bottom line?

It’s never easy.  And it will probably never be easy.  But it’s so important for our health and our brains and our bones and our muscles and our sanity and our families.  Taking even one of the steps I mentioned above is a giant leap in the right direction.  It takes a concerted effort to make positive changes in our lives.

What is the biggest challenge you face in maintaining a fitness routine?

What is your best tip(s) for finding time to squeeze in a workout?

What is your favorite no-cost workout routine?



Read more about my personal weight loss journey and fitness successes (and setbacks).

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Amy Lauren April 18, 2014 at 1:43 pm

I love this post and I love your results picture :). I don’t have kids yet, but I can imagine how tough it is for those who do to get back in the swing of working out. I know having a community helps- here in my area, the running community is huge and supportive, it’s like CrossFit in the sense that you’re a part of it and it’s hard to NOT run once you really embrace it as a part of your lifestyle.

That’s so awesome that your CrossFit has childcare too, most of the ones here do not, although some of the larger gyms have it.


Carrie April 18, 2014 at 3:34 pm

I cannot tell you how often I think “How do people with kids do life?!” I run around crazy busy to fit it all in but I think you hit it on the head when you said “schedule!” my workouts are repeating calendar entries. I move them each week as needed but only rarely do I delete an entry. Have them on my calendar first ensures when I pull up my schedule to plan something I’m always keeping my fitness goals in mind. So maybe that coffee date becomes a Zumba date with a girl friend. All the better to sweat it out together!

My husband’s schedule is more fluid. His secret to successfully finding time is that he keeps a gym bag in his car at all times so he is prepared whenever a spot opens up in his schedule.


Dani April 19, 2014 at 11:30 am

HA!!!! Sometimes your car breaks down!!!!

Great post. And I love ^this idea about always having a gym bag packed in the car and ready to go.


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