3 Secrets to Starting an Exercise Habit that Sticks

3 Secrets to Starting an Exercise Habit that Sticks

exercise workout habit

Starting an exercise habit is hard. But when you feel prepared both mentally and physically, you’re more likely to stick with it.

3 Secrets to Starting an Exercise Habit that Sticks


Everyone was a beginner at some point. Don’t psyche yourself out before you even get started. Know that it is okay not to know how to do things. It is totally normal to feel a bit lost and confused if you’ve never lifted weights or been to a Zumba class or tried to run for more than a minute before. Heck, even walking is a great way to get started!

If you accept that being a beginner when you’re starting an exercise habit means that you need to ask for help, you’re much more likely to be successful. There are people who are happy and willing to help you. Many personal trainers are willing to work with you for just a session or two if you need a little jumpstart or orientation.

It’s always a better idea to ask someone who knows what they are doing rather than just trying to look around and fake it til you make it. Remember that the goal of working out is to improve your health– so don’t do something that might lead to injury.

And here’s the really good news about being a beginner: you have lots of room for improvement! You’re likely to see and feel progress fairly quickly after starting an exercise habit. Woo hoo!


Just like when you’re cooking in the kitchen, using the right equipment makes the whole process much more enjoyable. Whether you’re working out at home or at a gym or studio, having the right equipment increases the chances that you’ll stick with your new program.

So if you’re thinking of doing yoga at home, buy yourself a good mat. If you want to take spin classes at a gym, make sure you buy the right kind of shoes. Want to start a weekly kayaking date? Buy sunscreen that not only works but feels great on your skin.

You can find some of my favorite pieces of workout equipment here.

Regardless of what meaningful movement you’re going to be doing, I suggest investing in a good pair of shoes (and good socks!) and a water bottle you love. Ladies, find yourself a sports bra that does its job without digging in to your skin and chafing. Being comfortable while you’re exercising goes a long way in making sure you maintain your workout schedule.

One word of caution: don’t go buying a fancy tech watch gizmo just because everyone else has one. If you’re someone who is more motivated by how you feel than tons of data, you don’t need to spend your money there.


I know it seems totally obvious, but so many people skip this step! Doing something you love is the most critical factor of all when starting an exercise habit! Figure out how your body loves to move, and you’ll be so much more motivated to prioritize your workouts.

This is the perfect time to tune out your friends and focus on yourself. While having an exercise buddy is a great way to stick with your workouts, internal motivation is an unstoppable force. Don’t be afraid to chart your own course.

If all of your friends love to run but you hate running, then don’t run! If you really want to join a soccer league so you can play on a team again like you did in high school, go for it! And bonus points to you if your idea of workout fun scares you a little bit. Exercise is a great way to push both your body and your mind.

Struggling to come up with an idea that really appeals to you? There’s an reflection exercise as part of my FREE Fit in Fitness 5-Day Challenge that can help!

I hope you have great success with these 3 secrets to starting an exercise habit that sticks. Good health and great happiness to you.

This post contains affiliate links.

These 3 secrets to starting an exercise habit that sticks will help any beginner get off on the right foot-- and keep going!

Walking: Boost Your Body, Boost Your Brain

Walking: Boost Your Body, Boost Your Brain

walking health benefits fitness creativity

A lot of times people in the fitness industry like to overcomplicate things.

People are led to believe that unless they use sophisticated equipment, contort their body into uncomfortable positions, or sweat profusely, it doesn’t count as exercise.


Hippocrates wrote “walking is man’s best medicine.” With no fancy equipment, gymnasium, or playing field necessary, one can improve her fitness just by walking.

In our sedentary culture, we could all use a little more of that medicine.

To move is to feel invigorated…alive! Perhaps that is why several cultures—the Spanish and the Italians, notably—retain the evening stroll. It’s not about fitness in the same way that Americans like to think of it. Rather, it’s about connecting with community in an active way.

When we can combine something that is good for our body physically with something that buoys us mentally, why wouldn’t we want to do it more often?


Enter the walk-and-talk: boost your body, boost your brain.

Next time you’re working to arrange a coffee chat with a friend, offer instead to meet her for a walk. It doesn’t have to be fast, nor does it have to be far. But if you spend an hour moving rather than an hour sitting, you’ve done something good for yourself. (Not to mention that you’re less likely to be tempted by goodies in a pastry case if you’re out walking.)

Maybe you’ll feel motivated by knowing some of our greatest human minds walked daily. Albert Einstein, Ludwig Beethoven, and Steve Jobs are all well-documented regular walkers. When you think about all they contributed to society, maybe you’ll understand why philosopher Freidrich Nietzche wrote “all truly great thoughts are conceived by walking.”

The mobile meeting has a well-established place within American corporate culture. Do you have an opportunity to introduce more movement into your day at work? Think of the creativity boost you receive from moving your body as an added bonus.

If you’re still feeling like walking isn’t really exercise, then don’t think of it as such. Walking is, however, meaningful movement that contributes positively to your health. If you’re motivated by data and personal challenges, using a simple pedometer or a more sophisticated fitness tracker may help keep you walking on the path to health.

Walking is the perfect beginner’s exercise! Join the movement. All it takes is putting one foot in front of the other.

This post contains affiliate links. Purchasing items through these links supports the work of Running on Balance. Thank you!

Walking is great exercise that supports both physical and mental health.

Fit in Fitness: A FREE 5-Day Challenge

Fit in Fitness: A FREE 5-Day Challenge


Starting a new workout habit is hard. Most people who resolve to finally start exercising can’t ever really get into the groove.

Find the support you need with the FREE Fit in Fitness 5 Day Challenge!

I developed this ecourse to give you five days of structured coaching to help you kick start your fitness goals.

Each day you will receive access to a new video, plus there is an accompanying workbook to help busy women like you think through what you like and don’t like about exercising. There are even short workouts included with the challenge on Days 2-5 so you can fit a little fitness into your life WITHOUT the drudgery of going to the gym.

Each of the included workouts are appropriate for exercisers of a wide range of ability levels. Exercise modifications are given so you can adapt the workout to your level. (Physician clearance before beginning an exercise program is recommended.)

Know this: Fitness doesn’t have to be hard work, sweaty or time consuming. I know that you can get great results by making small changes – and do it all from your own home. I’ve been coaching women for nearly 10 years using the strategies I outline in this ecourse.

In the Fit in Fitness challenge, you’ll learn how to change your mindset towards exercise. No, I’m not promising that you’ll suddenly learn to LOVE exercise if it is right now the last thing you want to do.

But I am saying that with a few mental tweaks, you can understand how moving your body with intention helps you feel better. And when you feel better, you FEEL BETTER!

I know what you’re thinking: If I can’t find time to exercise, how can I find time to do the Fit in Fitness challenge for five days?

Each day’s videos are short. Like less than 5 minutes short. And you can watch them while you’re cooking dinner, or you can simply listen to them as you’re driving to work.

You’re worth the time investment it takes to figure out what it’s going to take to get your body moving.

If you want to quickly and easily start moving towards your fitness goals, the Fit in Fitness 5 Day Challenge is for you.

Wishing you good health and great happiness.

Fit in Fitness a FREE 5 Day Challenge to start exercising and create a workout habit

2017 12 Days of Christmas Progressive Workout

2017 12 Days of Christmas Progressive Workout

12 days Christmas progressive workout

We’re less than a week til Christmas, so I’d be willing to guess you’re busy.

Even with everything you have to do between now and then, you’re probably also starting to think about those New Years Resolutions. And I’m guessing either starting or keeping up with a fitness habit is one of them.

I’m here with a plan to help.


I’ve written a 12 day workout that will appear right in your email in box each day from December 25th until January 5th.  Think of it as my Christmas GIFT to you!

We’ll start next Monday—yes, on Christmas—with our first exercise.  It’ll take you between one minute and 90 seconds to complete the whole “workout” on Monday.  After all, it’s just the first day of Christmas.

On the 26th, we’ll do another exercise followed by the exercise from Christmas.

So, just like the song, we’ll be accumulating a set of exercises.  By January 5th—the 12th Day of Christmas—you’ll have a full workout.  In all, it will take you around 30 minutes to complete that final workout.

What that means is that this little gift is the PERFECT way for you to ease yourself into an exercise habit!

Certainly you can begin by devoting a minute and a half to yourself.  Each day will take just a little bit longer than the day before, but you’ll be building up in a manageable way.  And 12 days is just long enough for you to really get the fitness habit rolling without being overwhelmed.  A progressive workout is a great strategy for getting your new year off to a healthy start.

What equipment will I need?

Just your body.  No tubes or weights or stability balls or fancy equipment required!

My house is going to be a wreck because I have a bunch of people coming to stay for Christmas?

No problem.  You need only about 5 square feet of cleared floor space for the exercises.

I’m a beginner.  I mean, like a for real, out of shape, get winded going up the stairs beginner.

Great!  Every exercise can be modified to suit your ability level.

But I don’t really know how to do the exercises?

That’s okay!  Every day comes as an email with both the exercise description as well as a link to a video of me doing the exercise—and offering modifications to make exercises both easier and harder.

What if I need a little more help?  Is there a way I can ask for help?

Make sure you’re part of the Well Balanced Women group on Facebook!  I post there regularly, and I’ll be in the group daily to answer questions and cheer you along.

This sounds cool, but I’m totally strapped for cash.

No worries.  IT’S FREE.  This 12 Days of Christmas workout program is my GIFT to you.

Can I share this with a friend or a family member?

Of course!  Please!  And thank you!

The 12 Days of Christmas workout is over. Sorry to have missed you!


Gift Guide for Fitness Fanatics

Gift Guide for Fitness Fanatics

fitness gift guide

This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for supporting Running on Balance.

Have a fitness fanatic (or a wannabe fitness fanatic) on your holiday shopping list?

You’ve come to the right place: I’ve compiled a gift guide for fitness fanatics to help!

I’ve got you covered! Literally!

Inspirational running socks

There are more than 25 styles of these fun and uplifting socks, so there’s a perfect message for everyone. These would make great stocking stuffers, too. Can’t you already hear everyone excitedly talking about which socks they received and how the quote is just right for them?!

Oiselle Tracktion Bra

Best sports bra ever, IMHO. Why do I give it this rave review? I wore the Oiselle Tracktion bra in both the 2016 and 2017 Comrades Marathons….and had ZERO CHAFING. We’re talking running for more than 11 hours at a time in hot weather and having no painful chafing to show for it. So, yeah, I declare it the best bra ever. I do recommend sizing down.

Gift Guide for Fitness Products to Get You Moving

52 Stack Strength Cards

If you’re a veteran exerciser who just needs a little help coming up with a workout that will challenge you, the fitness cards from 52 stack can help. With all bodyweight exercises, the cards are a fun way to keep your workouts fresh. A great option for the at-home exerciser or someone who travels a lot but wants to keep up her workouts.

Balance Virtual Bootcamp

Yes, I’m biased. Balance Virtual Bootcamp is my six-week course that emails a workout to you every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. The workouts can be done in about 30 minutes and use minimal equipment. All exercises have video demonstration (by Yours Truly) and written descriptions. Modifications to suit a wide range of fitness levels are given. There are also weekly motivational videos to keep you on track.

Fit2B Membership

Fit2B was started by Beth Learn, a perinatal fitness expert whose online workouts are all “tummy safe.” Beth’s extensive knowledge of diastasis recti and her realistic approach to fitness align with my coaching philosophies. If you’re looking for ongoing at-home workouts that are based in body alignment, good form, and functional strength training, I recommend a Fit2B membership.

(Yes, I am recommending someone else’s online fitness program. That’s how good Fit2B is!)

Accessories for your Fitness Fanatic Family and Friends

Kaiman Exo Lady Sphere Goggles


For the swimmer on your shopping list, get her a pair of goggles she’ll love. These Kaiman Exo Lady Sphere goggles are my fave. Why? I have a small head.

(Go ahead and make your jokes….)

These are the only goggles– other than junior sized goggles– I have found that actually fit my head. And swimming is a much better workout and much more fun when you’re wearing goggles that work well.

Peace Yoga Strap with multiple handles


I love fitness equipment that serves several functions. This yoga strap is long (7ft), so it works well both on land and in the water. I also like the multiple handle loops sewn in to the strap, as it allows for easier gripping regardless of where on the strap you hold. This is key for anyone who has grip issues– like arthritis. If you have an aging yogi on your list, this yoga strap will be a hit.

Live Infinitely Massage Stick

My favorite massage tool! This little stick works wonders, especially for sore quads and calf muscles. It’s easy to pop into a suitcase to use after a long day of travel, too. Is there anyone on your list who wouldn’t enjoy a little post-workout self-massage?

What’s your favorite product or service I left off my gift guide for fitness fanatics? 



What to Eat After Exercise

What to Eat After Exercise

post workout nutrition

Have you ever finished an absolutely rocking workout and then a few hours later either fallen asleep or felt so hungry you could eat a horse? If you knew what to eat after exercise, you could avoid both of these situations!

Let’s think first about what happens inside your body while you’re exercising.

Your body needs energy to fuel your workouts. The energy your body uses to fuel your workouts comes mostly in the form of glycogen. Glycogen is metabolized and stored carbohydrates. Some glycogen is stored in your muscles. This is the main source of fuel when you’re exercising.

Exercise requires your muscles to work harder than normal, resulting in microscopic breakdown of proteins in your muscle fibers. This is a good thing! It is in repairing these muscle fibers that you gain strength.

After your workout finishes, your body has two main jobs: replace glycogen stores and repair muscle.

These two main jobs require two different nutrients– carbohydrates to replace glycogen (and keep up your energy levels) and protein to repair muscle.

Keep in mind you’ll want to eat a ratio of about 3 grams carbs to 1 gram protein for the optimal post-workout nutrition balance. This ratio changes slightly based on the type of exercise you do. An endurance cardio workout like running, swimming, or biking uses more carbs than a strength training session.

Now we can better understand what to eat after exercise.

Need some food for thought? Here are 5 great post-workout snacks.

  1. Peanut Butter (or other Nut Butter) on a Banana
  2. Scrambled egg and whole wheat toast
  3. Tuna and multigrain crackers (BONUS: topped with avocado)
  4. Cottage Cheese with fruit
  5. 8-12 ounces Chocolate milk (Like these little boxes you can take with you!)

Each of those post-workout snack options gives you a balance of carbs and protein. By eating them within 30 minutes of finishing your workout, you’re setting your body up for a speedy recovery. (If you ate a meal before your workout, you can go as long as an hour afterwards without eating. Your body will still reap the benefits of the glycogen and protein synthesis.) Don’t forget to hydrate, too!

By knowing what to eat after exercise– and eating it!– you’ll stave off the post-workout energy slump and reduce the likelihood of a binge eating session later in the day. Talk about keeping your body well-balanced!

What to eat after a workout.