Going from Netflix binges and eating Chick-Fil-A every day to kale salads and ClassPass is not easy. Don’t let anyone fool you, it is work and not always fun. If we’re being honest, no one fits into one of these categories 100% of the time. You may love Chick-Fil-A (who doesn’t?!), but be addicted to spin classes. You could eat all the Brussels sprouts in the world while watching Grey’s Anatomy for the millionth time (#teamKarev). Life is about balance, and there is no such thing as perfect. However, when you’re leaning towards fast food and a night on the couch, starting a fitness journey can be very intimidating. It doesn’t feel like balance when it is a huge change from your normal. That’s why starting small is important. You don’t have to take a huge leap to see changes. Not to mention, if you try the all-or-nothing approach, you are probably going to fail pretty quickly.
When people ask me about how I’m living a healthier life, I always say its easy to start. It is easy to start because I make it easy. I started small, and whenever I get overwhelmed now I go back to these small reminders for the best healthy habits in my life.
If I’m going to workout, I’m going to look cute.
Surely I’m not the only one who enjoys new clothes, a good sale, and spending time putting together new outfits. I used to reserve this mentality for social events, spending hours (and dollars) on the best outfit and accessories possible. I have the closet to prove it. When I started working out more, I realized that athleisure and luxletic are totally a thing. Why did I not know this sooner?! A put together and trendy outfit that is SO COMFORTABLE and doesn’t require a real bra. Such a game changer. My athletic wardrobe started increasing rapidly. I noticed that while this part of my wardrobe could be expensive, it was even easier to find on sale. Here are some of my biggest tips for ballin’ on a budget for new workout gear.
- Outlets: Yes, athleisure is trendy, but a black sports bra is a black sports bra. Quality high waisted leggings never change. So do we really care if we are buying the *brand new* Nikes, or the Nikes from last season with a slightly different swoosh? No, we don’t. Whenever I am at the outlets I am shocked at how many athletic companies are there! Nike, Adidas, Lululemon, Under Armour, they all have outlets! Maybe they aren’t super close to you, but they are definitely worth the drive to stock up! Most outlet malls also offer coupon books for extra discounts or have crazy sales on holiday weekends. If you’re strategic, you can end up with an A+ closet. (These also help with gifts… my friends lucked out with Lululemon tanks for Christmas… because they were $19 at the outlet!)
- Promo codes: These are everywhere, and are becoming more and more common on social media. Most of the time I get promo codes from subscribing to my favorite brand’s emails. Yes I get a lot of emails. Yes they are all worth it. I’m now finding more and more promo codes from my favorite Instagram accounts! If someone you’re following on Insta is partnering with a brand they love, you often trust their opinion for products. So when they post you can get 10% off of an order, why not give it a try?! I have found my awesome leggings, new skincare, and cool food from Insta.
- Swap clothes: Look in your closet. Point to everything you don’t love or don’t wear. That is probably half your closet. My friends and I have periodic clothing swaps. Everyone brings their clothes they no longer love, don’t fit just right, or are sick of wearing. We throw them in a pile and all pick out the things we love! Your leggings with a crazy print could be someone’s new go-to pair. Your friends crop top she never wears could become a staple in your wardrobe. Swapping clothes with friends also helps avoid dealing with selling unwanted items online, going to a consignment store, or logistically deciding what to do with unwanted clothes. It also helps you trade up your wardrobe while helping friends!
Once I am all stocked up on clothes, I plan my outfits just like I plan my meals. I know which leggings I like with each tank, or what bra I like under each top. On Sundays I spend a little extra time and lay out my outfits. Logistically, it helps me stay on top of things during the week. I have no excuses if I just have to go pick up an outfit off my shelf. Mentally, it gets me irrationally excited if I know I get to wear my favorite pair of leggings. It takes a couple minutes, but it is so nice to save those couple minutes throughout the week!
Find a Friend
Your best friend might not be the best friend for a healthy life. Now before you think I’m mean, hear me out. If you and your bestie’s idea of a great night is a burger and fries, followed by lots of drinks at the bar, then a late night slice of pizza… that doesn’t totally align with your health goals. It isn’t easy to get your friends to make a lifestyle change when you are just figuring it out yourself. Now think harder… who is a friend who would help? Who is a friend who would motivate you? Who is a friend who would understand balancing an early morning workout with happy hour.
I was lucky that my life long best friend is a Masters of Science, Registered Dietician, and Licensed Dietician and Nutritionist. (She also loves Goldfish and Twizzlers dipped in frosting. Sorry for sharing that secret Erin…) When I started eating healthier I asked her so many questions about what I should or shouldn’t be eating. It was fun to talk about these things more, and our time together transformed into long walks followed by smoothie bowls. Sometimes it just takes opening up about health and fitness to take your friendship there!
My other find a friend moment was a little more ridiculous. I was following this girl on Instagram and we were liking each others’ pics, messaging occasionally, and just being Instagram friends. Then one day she posted a picture in what looked just like my apartment gym. I awkwardly messaged her… and it was my apartment gym. We live in the same building. Flash forward a year and Amanda is now one of my besties. We go for walks, go to workout classes, and have built a bond on active living. We may never have been more than neighbors who say hi on an elevator, but finding a friend definitely paid off.
Now this is not easy. You may not have a dietician friend or neighbor who is obsessed with barre classes. I was lucky I did. Here are some other ideas for finding a friend who will help with fitness…
- Free classes! Studios and stores host free workout classes all the time! Barre classes at the mall, yoga at a brewery, the list is endless. Usually those attending have a similar goal… get fit fo’ free. These events often have a social aspect too (shopping or drinking a beer after a class). Don’t be scared to go alone and chat with those around you before class!
- Instagram hashtags! There is now a hashtag for everything! Search for something you relate to + your city. I started finding friends using #TIURDU (for Tone It Up Raleigh/Durham) and I was able to find a whole tribe of awesome babes. I know these hashtags exist for other fitness programs (BBG, etc.) or nutrition plans (Whole30, etc.), so don’t be scared to join in the conversation or reach out for a meet-up.
- Work! You might not instantly think of co-workers for this idea, but why not? You all share the common bond of spending 40 hours a week in a cube. People will rarely turn down an afternoon walk. That afternoon walk might turn into a lunch time barre class. At work we did a competition last year where we tracked how often we took the stairs, how many steps we took, and how often we went to the gym. It was fun to bond with co-workers in such a different way!
Once you find a friend, fitness can be so fun! You have someone to try new things with (like when I went to aerial yoga) and someone to hold you accountable when you really don’t want to go to a 7am class. If your friend is waiting for you (or the studio will charge you $10 if you cancel), you really can’t bail at the last minute. It even comes full circle, because your original best friend just might want to join you for a class!
What do you hate?
For me, I hate running. I despise it. My leg/knee/back issues do not handle running. Despite hating running and being in physical pain when I run, I always attempt to run every once in a while. Why? Every time I end up icing my knee. Every time I end up so frustrated and feeling like a failure. Every time I say I’m never doing it again. The thing is the world makes you think running is awesome and healthy and easy for everyone. That is a lie. Things are different for everyone. Some people love to run miles and miles. That is not me and that is okay. I have finally discovered there are plenty of ways for me to get in my cardio. I can ride a bike, go to a spin class, swim some laps, go for a low impact but super long walk, the options are endless. We need to stop thinking that what works for one person works for everyone. It doesn’t and thats okay.
Even if a workout works for you, that doesn’t mean you have to like it. I have friends who love cross fit. I tried that once and never wanted to go back. At the same time I love barre. Some people find it boring or the movements too small, but I think it is awesome and takes me back to my ballet roots. Once you figure out what you hate, you can spend time focusing on what you love. Do you want to try some HIIT classes? A pilates reformer? A spin class with themed music? The options are endless! Eliminate what you know you don’t enjoy, and find the fitness that inspires you to go to the gym every day.
Don’t make it harder than it is.
If there is a workout class 45 minutes away… it probably isn’t going to happen. If you like to go to bed at 9pm… an 8pm class isn’t ideal. For fitness, convenience is key. Let’s think about what makes a workout convenient…
- Location: scope out studios that are close to you! I have found some hidden gems within a mile of my apartment. These might not be big reputation chains, but they are easy to get to after a long day at work.
- Availability: I have found studios I love, but they don’t offer classes after 4pm. I have also found classes that fill up quicker than I can look at the schedule. It is always ideal to find classes with times that work with your schedule.
- Friends: go back to my find a friend theory. Where are your friends going? What are they scheduling for the week? Coordinate with them to be held accountable and make working out a social event!
The best thing I have found for my last 3 theories is ClassPass. You pay per month, get to pick from so many studios, and can connect with your friends through the app! I have found studios I love, but also classes I hate. I have met up with friends at their favorite studios. It is a great way to connect with the fitness community around you! Another plus, it is available in a ton of cities and you can flex locations as you travel! If you have ClassPass, or join today, find me with username jackieleigh… and then we can workout together, because everything is better with a friend.