Finding Your Own Way to Stay in Shape

  • Each lawyer has their own way to stay in shape
  • To find the right activities for you, start with the ones you enjoy the most
  • Setting personal goals can make these activities more enjoyable

Maintaining your workouts. Building muscle. Improving your cardiovascular health.

You’re already familiar with all the steps—and most of benefits—of staying in shape. But you also probably find it easier said than done. Between a lawyer’s long work hours and the demands of your personal life, it can seem almost impossible to find the time and motivation for physical activity.

So why not just give up?

Your level of physical activity isn’t just something to brag about. Working out your heart and muscles will help you feel better, sleep better, and work better. Going from a sedentary lifestyle to one in which physical activity features regularly can increase your energy levels and boost your mood, enabling you to power through your billable hours with a clearer head and sharper mind.

But I hate working out!

That’s the secret. We all hate working out. Why? Because we tend to conflate working out with “an hour of mindless, boring physical activity.” No wonder you don’t like working out, if all you do is force yourself to log daily sessions on the treadmill, or the bike, or anything you don’t enjoy. If you force yourself to complete an activity just for the sake of it, all that happens is a lackluster workout—and a session at the gym that you’ll do everything to avoid.

Whoops, looks like can’t make it to the gym tonight–got tons of paperwork to catch up on/ late-night client phone call/need to organize my desk instead

Sound familiar? Then it’s time to find a way to stay in shape that works for you.

Figure Out Your Goals

Are you working out to improve your beach body? Staying in shape to keep up with your kids? Just want to get your body on track for a longer, stronger life? Whatever your goals are, keeping them in mind will help you maintain your motivation. Think of a primary goal for your fitness aspirations and write it down. Having a clear goal for your workouts will also help you plan them accordingly, and avoid wasting your time on a plan that doesn’t meet your personal goals. Your goals can also include your personal fitness requirements, such your weekly time constraints, any physical limitations, or preferences.

But Also Focus on the Here and Now

One of the biggest obstacles that trip up would-be fitness buffs is focusing too much on a specific goal. Once they reach that goalpost, they feel that they’ve “made it” and drop their routine—backsliding quickly into their sedentary habits. Make sure to focus on the process, not only the goal, and you’ll avoid giving yourself an excuse to drop the workouts. That means instead of “I’m working out to drop X amount of pounds,” try to create a mindset of “I’m working out to stay healthy, and I’m planning my workouts to help me lose X amount of pounds.” Remember, increasing your physical activity is beneficial to your body from Day One, long before you might start seeing tangible results.

Remember the Activities You’ve Enjoyed

As the old saying goes, find the activity you love and you’ll never work a day in your life. But in our gym-centric fitness mindset, how can you discover your passions? A great way is to sit down and think—did you love Flag Football Sunday in college? Were you a rising Track star in High School before the SATs took over? Get in touch with the activities that once made you happy, and you’ll be surprised at how eager you’ll be to fit them back in your life. Drawing a blank? Then try to figure out how to add some movement to your regular hobbies: Jump on the stationary bike with Netflix, walk around the block on the phone with a friend (or your mom!), or pump up your speed when shopping.

Do any of these activities sound promising to you? If not, think about other enjoyable ways to add movement to your life.

But Also Try New Things

If you’re like some of us, you’ve been a bookworm your whole life—and your favorite activity is the library or coffee shop. Not to worry! Now’s a great time to look around and try something new. Is there a local yoga studio running a special? Does your firm play in a weekend sports league? You can also ask around and find out what your friends and co-workers are trying out these days—there’s usually an avid athlete of some sort in every law firm who’d be happy to help you out. Don’t be afraid to give something new the ole’ college try. If you have a good sense of humor and a willingness to learn, you’ll find that most places are welcoming and helpful to newcomers. And if you give it a shot and totally hate it, that’s just one option to cross off the list.

If you focus on loving your workouts, you’re guaranteed to do them more often. Even when you find yourself short on time, you’ll look forward to your weekly dance class (if that’s your thing), as a way to de-stress and recharge. Your forced SoulCycle class, on the other hand? That’ll be tossed out whenever your willpower wavers—and as a busy lawyer, you definitely will find yourself with better things to do.