Many of us dads began lifting weights and working out back in our teens because we didn’t want to be geeks anymore. We thought that if we got bigger shoulders and arms, the girls would start paying attention to us just like in the movies.
But like most things, the movies had nothing to do with real life. It wasn’t the bigger body parts that made some girls pay attention to us. Instead, the mindset that came with improving ourselves through working out made us more attractive inside and out.
At some point, perhaps in our late 20s or early 30s, life happened – jobs, relationships, children — and we used those circumstances as an excuse to stray away from working out, exercising, and maintaining cardiovascular health.
I don’t have the time to work out. I’m too busy. I have a shoulder injury. Gyms are a waste of money. Etcetera. Etcetera.
But you’re here, reading this article because something inside is telling you that you need to make a change for real this time and that you need to start working out. Not for anyone else.
Whatever the reason that’s motivating you to start working out and exercising — congratulations. You’re taking the first step on your journey.
Keep reading to find out how you can stay motivated working out all year and not just a few weeks.
Step 1: Working Out Begins With a Growth Mindset
Working out isn’t primarily about looking good or shedding the “dad bod.” That’s putting the cart before the horse. Getting a “fit body” is merely a byproduct that happens when you have a mindset that is committed to fitness and is consistent with following through.
Sometimes, dads like us quit a workout program after a few weeks, not because we’re too busy or because gyms are too expensive. Instead, we fail at fitness because we don’t have the motivation to stay committed or consistent.
If we don’t start with fostering and growing our mindset, we will always fail our workouts when faced with an obstacle, whether real or imagined.
When you trust the process and your promise to yourself, you no longer mentally frame working out as a burden.
For example, if you have to do 100 burpees, a weak mindset says, “I have to do these burpees. This is going to hurt all over.”
A stronger mindset says, “I get to do burpees today because they will get me fit and my heart rate up. I get to feel the sweat and the pain. I get to be the best version of myself.”
A mindset is simply an agreement you make with yourself. It provides the framework and the guidelines for reaching your goal.
Step 2: Write Down Your Work Out Goals and Review Them DAILY
When New Year’s Day comes around, we may pat ourselves on the back for coming up with a laundry list of resolutions and writing them down on paper. But within a couple of weeks, that paper ends somewhere in the circular file.
Out of sight.
Out of mind.
When it comes to your intentions about improving your fitness and working out, you must remind yourself about those intentions daily. Why? Because your mind, if left to its own devices, will always choose the easy way — every time.
One of the best practical ways to get your exercise intentions front and center in your mind is to put them on your phone’s lock screen.
Your intentions don’t have to be long or complex. They just have to trigger in your mind the promise you made to yourself that you would work out, exercise, and get moving.
When your intentions are concrete, you understand that motivation doesn’t mean only commitment to start.
Motivation also means consistency to follow through.
The motivation of commitment will get you started. That’s the initial promise you make to yourself, which is usually associated with the excitement of starting something new. But the motivation of consistency will keep you going throughout the year when nobody is watching.
The motivation of consistency will get you through those days when you’re tired, busy, not feeling like working out, or the call of Netflix is intoxicating.
Here’s an example of a list of fitness intentions for 2022 from one of The Review Dad’s phones:
Step 3: Stay Flexible With Your Workout Routine
Many dads focus too much on the workout routine instead of the workout goals. When you focus on only the routine, you become a slave to the routine instead of the actual purpose of working out.
The workout routine is the “what.” The goal of working out is the “why.”
When you understand that difference, you become more flexible in applying the workout routine itself. When you are flexible in the application, your motivation is not dependent on blindly following the workout routine.
For instance, let’s say your workout routine says that you have to “walk 10,000 steps per day,” but torrential rains occur. If you are wedded only to the workout routine, you will either walk in a downpour and feel miserable the next day or skip the workout altogether.
But when you understand the goals of working out, flexibility comes naturally. Take the example of walking 10,000 steps per day. The purpose of walking 10,000 steps is to get your body moving and improve your cardiovascular health. In that regard, you may decide that instead of walking 10,000 steps in the rain that day, you’ll perform a set of 50 burpees or ride a stationary bike for thirty minutes.
Remember, dads. We are not training for a professional sport or some top-secret government program. It doesn’t mean we are not working out hard. We are. It just means that we can substitute workouts with similar activities when necessary.
Step 4: Schedule A Time Each Day To Exercise and Move
If you want to maintain a healthy, balanced lifestyle, you need to make time to work out and exercise, no matter how busy your schedule.
The simple point is that you must block out a time to work out in your schedule. When you block out that time, you are blocking that time out for yourself and your growth. You don’t need to apologize to anyone for that. Your development is essential.
If you try to “figure it out” each day, your workout is too often susceptible to being pushed to the side. Remember, if left to your own devices, your mind always chooses the easy way out without a mindset.
Make working out a priority. You do that by putting it in your schedule the same way you would put going to work or a doctor’s appointment.
The Review Dads prefer working out first thing in the morning. There are fewer distractions at 6:00 a.m. And you get the added benefit of starting your day on the right foot.
Step 5: Choose an Environment That Motivates You To Work Out
Choose your workout environment carefully. An environment can inspire and motivate you to be active, or it can negatively affect your mood and sap your energy.
If you’re working out at home, choose a space that gives you enough room to exercise and let loose if you have to. Remember, you’re working out and exerting yourself. You’re going to be sweating. You’re going to be grunting. You will be conjuring up animalistic spirits. You’re not reading books or doing crochet.
In that connection, you don’t want to work out in a place that’s too close to your child’s bedroom or near expensive things that your spouse laid out carefully in the living room.
You want to work out in a space where you can expend energy without the fear of bothering someone else. We’ve found the best place for this is your basement or in the yard outside.
If you want to conjure up your primal spirit, you should choose a primal environment or create one yourself.
If you’re choosing a gym, visit it when you plan to work out. You’ll get a good idea if it’s busy, the condition of the equipment, and whether you feel comfortable with the space. You’ll also get a good idea of how long it takes to get to and from the gym.
The Bottom Line
Working out and exercising regularly is essential if you want to become the best version of yourself. But don’t leave that to luck or winging it. You need a strategy to maintain your motivation, especially when the excitement of starting a new workout program tapers off.
Our strategy begins with having the right mindset before anything else — one that understands you will need the motivation of commitment to start and the motivation to follow through.
Once you have this framework, you need to write down your goals and review them often, stay flexible with your workout routine, reserve a time each day for movement and exercise, and choose an environment that inspires you to work out and exercise.
Good luck! You can do this.