Six trainers share their best tips for staying consistent, accountable, and on track.
Getting your fitness on is a key component of weight loss, and even though certain types of exercise are known for their fat-burning capabilities, at the end of the day, there’s one rule that trumps all when it comes to working out for weight loss: consistency. Easier said than done, but 100 percent worth it.
Put simply, “in order to lose weight, you must burn more calories than you are consuming,” explains Jacqueline Kasen, a trainer at Anatomy at 1220 in Miami. Of course, your body burns calories just by livin’, but exercise helps create an even bigger calorie deficit. However, “the magic doesn’t happen overnight,” says Kelvin Gary, C.P.T., owner of NYC’s Body Space Fitness. (But, let’s be honest: Wouldn’t it be nice if it did work that way?)
“The whole process [of burning fat] takes time and energy,” adds Gary. “Consistency in the gym keeps the process moving in the right direction. It also helps you create the good habits that will eventually be your new normal, helping you reach those goals in a sustainable way.” Plus, if you take extended breaks, you risk losing some of the progress you’ve made from that rise-and-grind life.
Consistency means different things to different people, depending on your goals and what’s realistic for your lifestyle. Kasen reccomends aiming for four to five workouts per week—but you can start smaller, if you want. “Make the commitment to exercise at least three days per week—that will likely lead to wanting to exercise even more, like four or five days,” says Jenn Seracuse, director of Pilates at FLEX studios. “We are human and things happen, but it’s important not to let life completely derail you from your routine.”
Here are trainers’ best tips for staying consistent, accountable, and on track.
1. Try exercising at the same time every day.
Set yourself up for success as much as possible by picking a specific time to work out daily, suggest Kasen. Choose a time of day that works best for your schedule. It might take a couple of weeks to get comfortable with the new schedule, but before you know it, it’ll feel like a natural part of your routine. “Just like when you get up, the first thing you do is shower or brush your teeth—this is the same concept,” Kasen says.
Make a plan that actually fits your life,” says Jackie Dragone, director of barre at FLEX studios. “Take a look at your schedule and the extra pockets of time you have when you can truly commit to working out. If you know you are exhausted in the evening, commit to two workouts in the morning before work and two on the weekend. It’s about making it work for you.”
And if a regular routine just isn’t an option, schedule your workouts at the beginning of the week and stick to your plan (that means writing them down, too).
2. Try the hairband trick.
“Have a visual reminder that you see every day,” suggests Amelia DiDomenico, C.P.T., master trainer at Crunch Gyms. This can simply remind you to actually get your workout in, or it can be something that keeps you focused on your larger goals—whatever is motivating for you. “Just a small sticky note or even an image that reminds you where you’re going. You can use your bathroom, kitchen, or even your desk,” she says. Another sneaky trick? “Wear a rubber band or hair tie around your right wrist, and put it on your left wrist when have completed your workout.”
3. Do workouts you *actually* like.
Find ways to get active that you actually enjoy so you’re not tempted to skip your workouts—plus, you’re more likely to do it often and consistently if you have fun. “It’s different for everyone,” says Seracuse. “If you don’t love it and look forward to it, you won’t do it.” Consistency doesn’t mean doing the same thing every day—variety is important, and you should enjoy all (OK, most) of your workouts.
“If you dread boxing, try indoor cycling. Not a yogi? Maybe Zumba is for you,” adds Kara Hermes, a trainer at YG Studios. “There are so many fun and challenging types of fitness! With warmer weather approaching, experiment with outdoor workouts, too.”
4. Stay accountable with paid classes or workout buddies.
“Take group classes,” suggests Seracuse. “Signing up (and paying for) a group class keeps you accountable, because someone is expecting you and you’re also making a financial commitment to be there.” Not into classes? “Find an accountability buddy,” she suggests. “This doesn’t even mean you have to work out together. Set goals and share them to keep each other on track. Text each other your workout plans, and then let each other know when you’ve completed them. I do this with one of my best friends and it’s very effective. Whenever I don’t feel like following through, I think about having to text her and tell her I bailed.”
5. Above all, keep your goal in mind and remember why you started.
Being consistent isn’t easy at first, but it’s crucial to meeting your goals and setting up healthy habits. “Generally, when starting a new routine, you make sacrifices to stay on course,” says Hermes. And if you’re having a hard time sticking with your new routine, or are thinking about skipping your workout, remember why you started in the first place. “What you put into your goal is what you get out of it, and if you don’t put the work in you won’t see change,” says Dragone.
Be specific about your goals, too, suggests Gary. “If you’re clear on your goals, you can be clear on what you need to do to get there, and you’re more likely to work harder towards them.”
Personally, a morning workout makes me feel energized, positive, and capable of taking on whatever the world throws at me—and when I do hit that snooze button instead of lacing up my sneakers? I usually regret it. And let me tell you, I never thought I’d see the day. These trainers know what they’re talking about, huh?