How to Make Exercise a Habit

“While I knew late-night pizza wasn’t great for me, I rationalized the fact that I had just worked a twelve- to fifteen- hour work day…I told myself that I would burn it off in the morning. I was just carb loading a bit at night, which as long as I ran in the morning would be a good thing.” -an excerpt from CEO of Sun Basket, Adam Zbar’s new book, Shine An Entrepreneur’s Journey for Building a Highly Successful Business and a Healthy Life.

Sound familiar? 

Too often, when we subscribe to the mainstream calories in, calories out equation, exercise becomes our sweaty repentance for last night’s drive-through sins.

But what about those times when you finish a hike with friends and feel tuckered out in the best way, or discover a yoga class that makes you feel good all day long? That’s how exercise can—and should—feel all the time. 

When fitness is focused on fun activities, we’re not only more likely to be active regularly, we’re also more likely to enjoy it. And enjoyment is key for making exercise a strong, consistent, and sustainable habit. There’s so much room to experiment: group classes, hiking with friends, dance classes, walking your pup, or joining a rec soccer team. 

Working out should be considered something that adds to your happiness and well-being, rather than the daily burn-off threshold you’ve promised yourself to hit. Instead, make it your goal to feel invigorated. What activities can you do that are fun? New and exciting? With friends? Make you feel strong and supported?

And it’s ok…no, it’s essential…to start small. Start with simple, attainable goals that will empower you to keep going, keep getting stronger, and keep loving physical activity. In his book, Zbar describes starting with just 2 modified push-ups because that’s all he could do. And within two weeks he progressed to 15 at a time. Then he started incorporating 10 minutes of stretching into his routine, which made it easier to do sit-ups, and improved how he felt when he ran.

When you change your mindset and shift the paradigm to make fitness something that enhances your routine, the real magic happens. Then, you’ll have a sustainable routine that you love, and all the benefits that follow: stress-busting, energy boosting, mood lifting, stamina enhancing, mental toughness/resilience, improved sleep, and the ability to make better food choices.

Now, Zbar runs in the Marin Headlands with his close friends and focuses on enjoying the movement, the moment, and the views of the Pacific and the Golden Gate Bridge. 

“We had begun our weekly “Sun Runs” a few months earlier, right around the same time we decided to explore the idea of starting a healthy meal kit company.” -Tyler MacNiven, Co-Founder of Sun Basket, Forward to Shine: An Entrepreneur’s Journey for Building a Highly Successful Business and a Healthy Life.