Train your brain to train your body

Whether it’s the push that comes from a new year beginning, the thought of summer approaching, or another goal in mind, there is a burst of excitement that comes from creating a new training regimen. Keeping it going long term is another challenge altogether. So, comes the age-old question: how do we train our brains to commit to a new exercise routine? Here are five top tips for establishing a routine:

Establish your purpose
Only you can understand your own reasons for wanting to reach new heights and for embarking on a new exercise routine. Whether it’s training for a marathon, relieving mental stress, toning your muscles, or something else, be honest about why you want to work hard toward a certain goal. Write the goals down, hold yourself accountable by showing them to somebody else, and check off your milestones as you go.

Understand associative behavior
When trying to kick a habit, such as smoking, drinking alcohol or nail-biting, it can be helpful to stay away from places and people you associate with those addictions. In building good habits and exercise routines, we can flip that theory on its head. Look to associate yourself with people who help solidify your new routine and share your goals. This could also involve encouraging social activities that surround healthier habits, such as doing a gym class then catching up for coffee, instead of occasions that will distract you from your training patterns.

Make habit of rest
Build rest and downtime into your daily routine. As much as it’s important to be active and reach your training and nutrition goals, your body needs to relax and recuperate to take on the next day’s challenges. Help your muscles recover with heat creams and extensive stretching, and try not to push yourself to the brink of injury – that is when exercise regimes can go out the window. As they say, slow and steady wins the race!

Build in a reward system
Treat yourself with something other than food or drink. If you achieve a goal, take yourself to the movies, draw a warm, indulgent bath, or put a couple of dollars in a piggy bank. Or, if you’re feeling particularly motivated, let your reward be some other kind of exercise. For example, if you’re sweating it out running 5 km each day, let your reward be a day off to do some water aerobics or a relaxing yoga class.

Know and respect your limits

Be fair to yourself about your limits, whether they be time, work, familial, emotional or physical limitations. Being fair to yourself means being realistic about the limits your schedule will allow, as well as your body.