How I Finally Found an Exercise Routine that I Can Stick With

Let me preface this post by saying — I am not a fitness guru, coach or gym junkie. My primary health focus and passion is on diet, so for me exercise is just a necessary part of the total health package that must be done. Overall health actually consists of 80% diet to 20% physical activity, so I don’t feel too terribly guilty for not being a fitness nut. I actually, until very recently, hated exercise. Specifically cardio exercise, which I actually still don’t care for, but I’ve found a way to outwit my disdain for it!

About this time last year I bought a lightweight elliptical to keep in the basement family room and use throughout the winter months when it’s cold outside, because if it’s below 60 degrees then you won’t catch me outdoors! I also have issues with my right knee after falling on the ice when I was in middle school. I tore cartilage in my knee, which has since healed, but I still can’t do any high impact cardio or strength training without it giving me issues. So the elliptical serves a double purpose in that it’s no-impact on my knees and I can use it to supplement walking.

I thought that having the elliptical in the basement where I could just hop on for 20 minutes while watching TV would make it a breeze. What I found is that I actually got bored on it, even while watching TV, and started to dread it. Which ultimately led to me slacking off on using it, until I stopped altogether. I also have a naturally high metabolism, which eliminates that sense of urgency for me to work out. So I’m not just a slacker…I’m guiltlessly slacking off!

That’s something I really wanted to change with my post-Christmas reset. Not only did I want to get in some cardio because I spend my work days sedentary at a desk, I also wanted to add in some strength and flexibility work just to feel stronger overall. I wanted to not only have a cardio routine, but also come up with something for abs, upper body, lower body, and yoga.

I already had an ab routine from a few years ago that I could pick back up on a more regular basis, so I was set with that. I’d also done yoga before, so I just needed to refresh myself on some poses and put together a flow. For upper body, I needed to find some exercises that I liked and put together a circuit for myself. Lucky for me my favorite YouTuber, Kalyn Nicholson, shared her upper body workout on her channel right when I was needing one for myself. I ended up adapting most of her workout for myself. So then I just needed to find a lower body workout.

popFor that one, I needed to be more specific than just watching a video and saying “okay, I’ll do that!” For the same reason I had to buy an elliptical, I had to get creative with my lower body workout — my knee. I can’t do lunges or squats, because after just a couple of days my knee gets inflamed and I have to stop. Someone had suggested to me in the past that I try resistance band exercises, so I started doing some searching for lower body workouts using a resistance band. There were still plenty that used lunges and squats, but I was able to put together a combination of resistance band exercises from several different sources and create a workout for myself that had no impact on my knee.

I had workouts lined up for all areas that I wanted to work on, so the final step was coming up with a schedule. The most important thing for me was making sure I don’t get bored, because I get bored easily with repetition (I’m one of those rare breeds that loves change) and that weighs heavily on my reasons for abandoning workout routines. I ended up coming up with something that has served me well for the last month and I haven’t gotten bored with. I’ve noticed obvious changes in my strength already, and I’ve been able to stick to it consistently without skipping or missing days.

Here is what I’m doing

I decided rather than designating specific days for each workout, I would set a goal for how many times per week to do each one. So for me it looks like this:

  • Cardio (20 minutes on the elliptical or a 2-mile walk) 3 x per week
  • Yoga 4 x per week
  • Abs 4 x per week
  • Upper body 2 x per week
  • Lower body 2 x per week

With these goals set, I’m able to put together a different workout set for each day to prevent repetition and boredom. I also give myself one day off per week — Wednesday, which is my boys’ religion class and my grocery shopping night. I then set up a spreadsheet using Google Sheets so I would have a visual to set up my workouts for the week. When I finish my workout for the evening, I go in and fill that cell with a green color. If I only do part of it (that only happened once, and it was because I got busy cleaning and running errands after the elliptical and forgot all about yoga), then I fill it with pink. Then I have a red-orange fill if I miss it completely, which I haven’t yet needed to use.

Here is what it looks like:


So you can see I’m not doing a constant loop of the same workout, and so far this has kept from getting bored or burned out. There was still the issue of getting bored with the elliptical, however, and I’m happy to report that I’ve found a way around it! Watching TV wasn’t doing it for me, so I found something that did. Do you know how you can get on your phone, browsing social media, shopping, etc., and just loose all track of time doing these totally mindless activities? Well that’s become the magical solution to my elliptical boredom!

Let’s face it – single mom life is busy life! I feel like I’m constantly running around or busy, especially when I’m at home, so I don’t ever spend a significant amount of time doing those things (okay, except for ThredUP browsing, let’s be honest). I’ll get on Instagram or Facebook, check my notifications, and maybe do a quick scroll for a few minutes, then I’m off again. Well my elliptical has a display with a lip that perfectly fits a cell phone at a good eye level.

One day I set the time on my phone for 20 minutes, plopped it down on the display, and got to “jogging”. After a few minutes I was already bored and counting down the minutes until I was done. My phone was sitting there, staring up at me with its black, locked screen. And I thought you know what, I wonder what’s new on ThredUP! So as I was jogging away on the elliptical, I unlocked my phone, opened ThredUP, and started scrolling through new items. All of a sudden my timer was going off and I’m going “what?! I’m done?! Holy cow I didn’t even realize that much time had passed!”

Since then I’ve decided to make elliptical time the time for me to browse Instagram or Facebook, read articles or blog posts, shop for things I need on Amazon, or browse ThredUP for outfits. Today I used that time to edit a photo for Instagram of a pizza recipe I tried for lunch, and got it posted. By the time I was done, my timer was going off and it was time to get off of the elliptical. The time passes so quickly that I barely even notice it. As another plus, I actually end up working up more of a sweat and logging a faster pace, because my body is moving away without me mentally thinking “ugh, is it over yet?” I guess mindless scrolling isn’t always a bad thing!

With this plan in place, I’m not only sticking to my workouts, but I’m finding that I actually enjoy them. This is honestly the first time in my life that I’ve been able to say that, and I’m confident that 2019 is the year that I will be able to make fitness a permanent part of my life!

If you have some fitness goals to tackle, I would love to hear from you! What do you hate about working out? What do you love? Maybe we can work to inspire each other 🙂


6 thoughts on “How I Finally Found an Exercise Routine that I Can Stick With

  1. When I first started working out again I had no motivation. Once I get in a routine I LOVE it… but to get started I only allowed myself to watch Netflix while I was on the elliptical… had to stay on longer to binge watch my shows!


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