The 7 Stages Of Finding An Exercise Regime That Works For You

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When you make the decision to change your fitness for the better, you’re at the start of a very long journey— you just don’t know how long that journey is going to be. While there will always be people who fall outside of the average, for the most part, adjusting and adapting exercise into your life tends to happen in stages.

If you’re determined that the next time you embark on a dedicated exercise regime is going to be the last time, then learning about the stages of exercise dedication is one of the best ways to ensure success. Below are the seven common phases that any person attempting to move from little exercise to a dedicated regime is likely to face, as well as a few tips on how to make each phase as manageable as possible.

#1 - The excitement stage

When you make a decision to really commit to an exercise regime, the overwhelming feeling will likely be excitement. You’ll spend a lot of time doing your research, planning your new exercise regime down to a T; you’ll browse the likes of and sign up for a membership, and you’ll find researching exercises and fitness clothing genuinely enjoyable.

When you eventually progress to attending a gym regularly, the positive, excited feelings begin to perpetuate themselves. Your system will be flooded with feel-good hormones, and you’ll likely feel incredibly happy with your decision to commit to exercise, as well as a sense of achievement for having made the transition so flawlessly.

For the most part, this stage is easy to deal with— you’re going to the gym and, for the most part, you truly want to be there. You’re beginning to feel the benefits in your body too, so there’s plenty of incentives to keep going. However, the biggest danger is the risk of over-exerting yourself, potentially to the point of injury. Take things slowly as you adjust to a new workout routine, giving your body time to adapt, and allowing you to build your fitness gradually.

#2 - The adjustment stage

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After a few weeks of your new gym-going regime, the excitement stage will begin to fade. In its place is a period of adjustment, as you become more and more aware of the fact that your new exercise regime is rather time-consuming. It’s likely that going to the gym, working out, showering, and traveling home takes a couple of hours per session, so you’re going to need to learn to plan your schedule to allow for the number of visits you want to be able to make.

The adjustment stage is a stage that most people make it through, so you don’t need to worry about quitting the entire endeavor just yet. However, you do need to make positive plans. If you try and convince yourself to put off too many social occasions in favor of the gym, you’ll soon begin to see exercise as punishment. Try and ensure that your schedule is balanced, and you still find the time to do other things besides working out with your free time.

#3 - The acceptance stage

The acceptance stage is the first true test of your determination to stick with your new regime. During this stage, you will likely have a few opportunities to skip a gym session in preference for something more interesting. If you’re committed, you’ll likely return to your regime as normal, but many people slip at this point.

As a result, this is what you need to be most aware of during the acceptance stage, which can last up to six months after you first start working out. If you need to skip the occasional workout session, that’s fine, but how quickly you bounce back to your normal schedule is an indicator of your future success. If you skip once, it’s easier to skip again, and before you know it a month will have passed since your last trip.

So if you do need to take a break from your schedule, get back to your new normal as soon as possible. This may be harder to achieve than you expect, as the novelty of working out is beginning to wear off at this point. This stage is a real test of your willpower and determination, so make use of the tips on so you can push through and stick to your routine.

#4 - The boredom stage

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This stage is particularly concerning, so you’re going to need to be on the lookout for the onset of the boredom stage.

As the name suggests, this stage is about being bored. It usually involves being bored of arranging your schedule to accommodate workouts; being bored of the actual workout itself; being bored of the occasional tweaked muscle or aching back. You just reach a stage where the entire endeavor seems largely pointless, and even the endorphins have deserted you.

It should come as no surprise to note that the boredom stage is an incredibly common phase for people to quit their new fitness regime. If you want to ensure that you avoid this, then try…

Switch to a very different type of workout; for example, if you have been focusing on cardiovascular activity, switch to yoga or pilates.

Make your workouts harder. One of the reasons that you may be feeling bored is because you are still working out at the same intensity as you did when you began exercising; as a result, your body simply isn’t being tested enough. Increase the intensity and see if this helps with any feelings of restlessness.

Change where you are working out. If you usually attend a gym, try exercising outdoors (weather permitting) for a few weeks, and vice versa. Sometimes, a simple change of scenery is all you need to find your enjoyment again.

#5 - The lapsed stage

Even the most dedicated of fitness fans will eventually pass into a lapsed stage. This will usually occur around a year after you begin exercising— and for the most part, the reason for this stage is simply that you’re used to it. Exercising is now a part of your life and your routine, and you’ve battled through the boredom to make sure you’re still enjoying it, but it’s no longer a new and exciting part of your life.

This means that you’re more liable to miss a few sessions, go easier during some workouts, and just outright not quite show the same signs of commitment that you used to. Unlike during earlier stages, you’re likely to pick up where you leave off and get back to your routine after a break, but that doesn’t mean you can completely relax during this stage; you’ll still need to keep yourself focused, ideally by setting a few new, realistic fitness goals, as discussed on, to give yourself something to work towards.

#6 - The guilt stage

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The guilt stage is a strange stage, but it’s one that you’re likely to experience. This stage will usually be when you assess what happened during the lapsed stage, and you begin to feel guilty and/or judge yourself for falling away from your fitness ideals. The fact that you kept working out is a definite “win”, but during this stage, you will definitely feel like you could and should be doing more.

There’s no harm to doing more if you have the time available to do it in, but do try to be kind to yourself during this stage. You have clearly reached a point where some level of physical activity has been incorporated into your everyday life, and you deserve some plaudits for that. Turn up the intensity and try something new if you wish, but don’t go overboard— just improve slightly on the positives you have already been able to establish.

#7 - The settled stage

Around 18 months after you begin working out, you will finally have reached the settled stage. It is very, very rare for a person who has reached this stage to stop exercising— by this point, the habit is all-too ingrained, and you’re well aware of the health benefits you have been able to enjoy thanks to your workouts.

For the most part, the settled stage is a period that you can just enjoy. It’s sensible to try new exercises every once in awhile, just to keep things fresh, but you can also relax into a routine that you know works for you. If you need to take time off your workout schedule, you can do so with a high level of confidence that you’ll bounce back to normal as soon as you can. By this point, exercising has become a habit, and you can just enjoy its myriad benefits that you have built up over time.

In conclusion, by having an idea of what you should expect from your newfound love of exercise, you can be ready to roll with the changes as you move from stage to stage. Eventually, with extra dedication and a willingness to embrace the changes you will go through, you should be able to find an exercise regime that you can stick to once and for all.

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