How I Finally Made Exercise a Habit?


The 5 Best Ways to Finally Make Exercise a Habit

Up until recently I was not exercising on a regular basis. It’s not that I doubted the importance of exercise but for some reason I just could not make it a habit. This might seem surprising since over the last two years I have lost 30+ pounds and write about it all the time on Organize Yourself Skinny. However, a large majority of that weight loss resulted from changing my eating habits. So when it comes to nutrition, calories, planning my meals, and preparing my foods ahead of time I like to think I know what I am doing.

While changing my eating habits played a big part in my weight loss, and brought me very close to my goals, I have quickly learned that to reach my weight loss goals exercise is a must. This became clear about 2 months ago when I was struggling to lose the rest of my weight. I also did not like the way my body looked. Sure I was getting “skinnier” but I was still flabby. Basically, I was a skinny flabby person. I did not like it and knew the only way to fixed that was with good old fashion exercise.


Like I said, it’s not that I did not believe in the power of exercise, I just struggled with finding a way to sustain a weekly exercise schedule. Well that is until now. After 2 years (probably more) of trying to fit exercise into my lifestyle I finally feel like I made it a habit. I have been working out (running, power-walking, and light weights) 3-5 times a week consistently since the last week in February. That is just over 2 months. I have dropped 7 pounds since then and can aslo see a huge difference in the way my body looks and clothes fit. Overall, I feel amazing!

Want to know how I did it (and continue to do it)? There is nothing ground breaking here. Just simple techniques I used to get off my couch and onto the treadmill. Remember what works for me may not work for you and vice versa. Take these tips and adapted them to fit your needs.

I carve out time in the morning

I have to exercise in the morning. I have tried many times to exercise after work but something always got in the way or I was too tired. When I exercise in the morning I get it out of the way and do not have to worry about it again till the next morning. I know it is hard to wake up and get moving in the morning – and you might have to push yourself the first week or two – but it will get easier.

I also found that it helps to wake up, have a cup of coffee, then get on the treadmill. This gives me time to get conscious. In the past, when I would wake up and get on the treadmill immediately I would never get in a hog sweating work out because I was barely awake. However, I can’t sit around too long or I will never get up. Also, I need to start my work out before my husband gets up or I will be enticed to sit on the couch with him, watch TV, and chat over coffee. So, know your excuse triggers and watch out for them.

I keep it simple

I love simplicity in all areas of my life and exercise is no different. For me to sustain an exercise routine it needed to fit into my life naturally. I have no problem pushing myself but I did not want to force exercise into my lifestyle. Therefore, I knew joining a gym, participating in a hard core exercise routine, exercising after work, or doing anything that took longer than 45 minutes would not work for me. Waking up, getting my exercise clothes on, having a cup of coffee, putting in my ear buds, running for 45 minutes, and using resistance bands in the comfort of my own home does work for me. That is what I do. Simple.

I plan ahead

Just like eating healthy is easier with food made ahead of time; it is much easier to exercise when you have your clothes, sneakers, and whatever else ready in advance. If I have to wake up and look for all those things most likely I will not work out. Everything I need for exercising I get ready the night before and have next to my bed. So when I wake up I am good to go.

I exercise every day

When you are beginning to form new habits (and break old ones) I find it best to do that habit every day until it becomes natural. Basically, you are working to retrain your brain to think differently. If you are used to getting up every morning, grabbing your coffee, and watching the today show you need to train yourself to now turn off the tv and exercise instead. That takes time and numerous attempts.  Every morning between 6:30am – 7:30am is my exercise hour. No matter if I am running, walking, doing crunches, or lounges I use that time for exercise only. When I try to mix that time up with other things like blogging, making lunches, or whatever else I always get off track.

I like exercise results much better than couch results

There is no greater motivator than seeing the results of your hard work. Period. When you start exercising on a regular basis and combine that with healthy eating you will see results. They are not going to happen overnight and may even take weeks to see any fruits of your labor. But when you do it is AWESOME! Truly amazing! I could not believe it the day I noticed definition starting to take place in my arms, stomach, and legs. Or last weekend when I bought my first pair of size 4 pants. I never thought that could happen. In reality I just never kept up with exercising to see it happen. But now that I am seeing the results of my hard work that is all I need to keep me going and motivated.

What are your tips to making exercise a habit? What works and doesn’t work for you?

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  1. Erin I. says:

    Exercise is so key! The combination of changing my eating habits (and tracking everything online) and exercising regularly helped me lose 70 pounds after my second baby 2 years ago. I just had our third baby 4.5 months ago and I’ve lost half the baby weight by doing those same two things again. For exercise I love to run and do strength training DVDs. My favorites are 2 Jillian Michaels DVDs (30 Day Shred and Ripped in 30). They are great options for busy moms because they’re only about 25 minutes from start to finish (each DVD has multiple workouts so you can change it up), the only equipment you need is light hand weights, and it is a great mix of strength training, cardio, and abs. I was amazed at how they helped my body really tone up and get strong–I’d definitely recommend them!

    • Kim Brown says:

      So I’m a fat girl… And have struggled for a long time with weight. I came across your blog at a time in my life that I was attempting to change many ingrained habits and trying to avoid doing bariatric surgery. I knew the only way was to find ways that were SIMPLE and SUSTAINABLE. Freezer cooking and your approach to planning ahead were wonderful motivators that helped me take off 40 pounds. I have stalled out now and know it is exercise but trying to find the time and motivation, when the couch is RIGHT THERE, welcoming, cozy… I have plateaued. Maybe this post will help me get away from the couch… Also, even though you are a size 4, I don’t judge you (lol!). You have a very down to earth tone that I can relate to. Thanks for that.

      • Kim….good job on doing this to avoid bariatric surgery! You can do this because you have the drive…or you wouldn’t be researching how to change. I’d love to hear about your journey further…feel free to reach out to me! 🙂

  2. Amen to this post. I was struggling with not being able to move the scale this winter because I really dislike my treadmill. I have been able to go to the track and get some jogging/walking done the past month and boom, I have lost over 10 pounds. I also have more energy which is a great side effect of the exercise. Love you blog!!

    • Awesome Sherri! Do you have a fitbit or anything that tracks walking? I had a fitbit at one point but I wanted to get the bracelet. Love this blog, you are right!! Valuable info here for sure!!

  3. This is an awesome article! So much wisdom and valuable information. Everyone who is struggling to establish the habit of exercise should read it! Even those who are exercising regularly will be encouraged by it – I know I was!

  4. Hey Tammy, your post inspire many of us. Workouts and exercises really make sense for losing weight. Many people, who strive to lose weight, just follow some diet precautions and complain they haven’t achieved the desired result. Workouts, exercises are always needed for an effective weight loss program.

  5. Tammy, it’s all about the music! Music make us move. We can’t resist it. So before I turn on the news, I love headline news in the morning, I turn on Jango, and get down with some basic calesentics (spell?) like I did when I was in high school. I couldn’t wait to get off the bus and put my music on and get moving after a long boring day of sitting in school. So for motivation I recall that feeling of satisfaction that I get when I’ve had a lot of fun dancing, and moving to the music! PS…I’m 60 years old, but I sure don’t feel it!

  6. I totally agree with what you said on keeping exercise nice and simple. Many people, including myself, have the tendency to avoid exercise simply because they don’t want to “torture” themselves. However, just going for a walk around your streets every few days could make all the difference.

  7. Jennifer Newman says:

    I just started exercising using the Leslie Sansone DVDs. Low impact yet super workout . I even got my hubby to do it today while we are snowed in. I appreciate all the help from this page.

  8. I’ve found that if I start slow and work my way up to more intense exercise, I’m more apt to stick with it. Having said that, I’m on my 2nd try for my 2014 resolution of consistent exercise but I feel stronger already!

  9. Funny you should post this on facebook now!! I’ve been posting daily to facebook, as accountability, that I’m working out. I’ve been working out in the evenings – easy for me to do, because I live alone, and I know it’s not gonna happen in the morning (for now – I will work on that in the future). Tonight I finished day #43. Forty-three days in a row!!!! My previous record was 12 days in a row, or 23 days, but not consistently.

    I agree with you, I need to work out every day. I’ve had several people tell me it’s not necessary, but for now, for ME, it IS most certainly necessary. It took about 3 weeks before I didn’t cringe when I started; now it’s to the point that I’m almost looking forward to it. Almost. I love the way I feel afterwards, and that’s what I focus on!!!

  10. JoAnn Maio says:

    All great tips. We think alike; I exercise in the morning, too. I just can’t get into it at any other time of the day. I think it’s a great way to start my day. That being said…time to get up and go!

  11. Need the encouragement….so glad I have you all to help. I soak in every bit of advice, please keep it coming!

  12. I stared doing walking daily when my back went out. It was the only exercise I could do. I walk in the country because that is where I lived. Two suggestions that. I have is where Skechers. Shoes that are light and easy to put on and do it early as Tammy suggests because after awhile you really miss it if you do not get it done early.

  13. After 41 years of never exercising, I’ve finally made exercise a habit. I started June 27 after a scary cardiologist appointment. Nothing like a little fear to jump start things. But one of your pointers above was my key to success as well…exercise every day. From the end if June to the end of August I went walking for a half hour every day. I didn’t let myself miss any days bc I was so afraid I would fall out of the habit. Now 10 months later I still exercise 5x a week. I’ve moved on to more challenging workouts than just walking and I’ve lost 30 pounds. There are still days I don’t feel like working out (not so often anymore though) but I push through that feeling and drive to the gym anyway. In the back of my mind I think if I stop now, I may never start again and I can’t let that happen.

  14. Melissa says:

    I love this article! I am having such a hard time with my work schedule and my exercise routine. I was a member of a gym and never went because it was hard to leave work and go there when I have a family at home. I do have equipment here at home and I have been doing a little but I plan to start getting on track. Mornings are the right time for me also. I need to stop making excuses And just do it. No one likes the results of the couch!!! Lol! I love that you said that!

  15. I have lost 50 pounds and exercise was a huge part of my lifestyle change. I love music and started going to Zumba classes. I was nervous at first thinking I had to be really coordinated. YOU DON’! Just keep moving. I love it. I go three times a week now and started adding strength classes as well. My local YMCA has very reasonable offers. I did not join but got daily passes. At first I walked a mile, then two now sometimes I walk 6. Miles just for fun. PLUS….I starting running small spurts too. It feels awesome when I’m done. With all the exercise I’m very excited to say my body has adapted very well and I do not have flaps of excess skin. Swimming certainly helped too. That really works all the muscles in your body. Just find one exercise you really like and grow from there. One thing leads to another when you start seeing the results.

  16. 1. I get up at 4:30-regardless of what time I get to bed. That does mean I don’t always get adequate sleep, but I have learned I still do better on less sleep and with exercise than sleeping in.

    2. I sleep in my workout clothes, have socks with my shoes and hair things with my contacts.

    3. I have 3 kids 6 and under, homeschool and my husband is military. If I’m not up this early, it doesn’t happen. My stress reduction is amazing with daily exercise!

    My routine: trx full body work 3 days a week, cardio 3 days a week and swim 1-2 days. And you are right- the results are worth it!!

  17. I have found great success with simple walking at my lunch break during the work day. Fresh air and stepping way from my desk is so beneficial. I usually walk with a co-worker, but if I can’t find someone, I listen to my fav talk radio show on iheart radio. Also, LOVE this free app, “runtastic”…. Tracks my route as I walk- I.e. mileage, pace, calories burned, time, elevation, etc. I have walked 130 miles in 2.5 mos with good results. Keeps a history of all my walks and can provide me with total summary- miles, calories, hours walked. Also, another great free app recommended my nutritionist, “lose it”. I input my data, ie current wt, goal wt, height, age, gender and it gave me daily budget for daily calories and gave me date that I should reach my goal wt. You log your food intake and it tally’s the nutritional info for the day- calories, fat, protein, sodium, cholesterol. You also input your exercise. This part is incredible… You can scan your food item’s UPC code with phone or iPad, and it finds your food item with the food label. Very helpful and free.

  18. Loved your post.

  19. Mary Ann Dierdorf says:

    Any ideas for people that work 3 12 hour hour days? I need helk usually do karate 1-2 days per week depending on days I am scheduled.

  20. Theresa says:

    My problem is finding a simple exercise to do at home

  21. Thanks for sharing your story. Everything you said is true. What a great motivation to get up early tomorrow and get back on track to losing weight.

  22. I can’t tell you how badly I needed to hear this today. For months now I have been eating poorly, and feel bloated and miserable most of the time. I know for a fact that I need to avoid grains and refined sugar, and yet, I still keep going back to the sugar; it’s an addictive monster and I hate the control it has over me. Anyway, for the past week or so, I’ve known that it’s time for me to take back my health and do what’s best for me, which is to eat healthy whole foods and exercise. Your post was the boost it need to get back on track! Thank you!

  23. Hi Tammy! I found your blog through Pinterest after searching for motivation for losing weight and I’m hanging on every word! I’m a mom of two young kids (4 years old and 6 months) and while I can meal plan and grocery shop and get a better handle on the food aspect of healthier habits I’m having a hard time figuring out when I should exercise. I have a few programs I can follow here at home but my youngest doesn’t follow any sort of routine yet. Sometimes I’m lucky to get 3 hours of sleep at night! I’ve gone on long walks with the kids and at the end it feels like I’ve been hit by a Mack truck, I’m so tired. I know adequate rest is important for staying healthy, but how do I get that with an infant that won’t sleep? I’m also exclusively breastfeeding – and that idea of breastfeeding helping a new mom lose weight doesn’t really apply to me. I’m ravenous all day, every day, and I’ve tried portion control, waiting 10 minutes before getting more food, filling up on more fruits and veggies…but nothing seems to be helping. HELP! 🙂

  24. I have also begun exercising 5 days a week for 1 hour. I’ve been doing this for about 3 weeks and I lift weights for 20 minutes then walk on treadmill or arc trainer. I feel better for the most part and have lost inches which I’m very happy with, although I have experienced a lot of muscle fatigue this last week. What is your suggestion to prevent or ease this problem?? I only lift 20lbs or less on the machines because I have a 25 pound weight restriction.

  25. What a fantastic article!!! I love how you’ve spoken about the mental challenges when finding your health as opposed to the detoxes, cleanses or fad diets that seem to gain momentum

  26. any tips for those of us that want to work out in the am, but need to be on the job by 7am and do not want to get “up with the chickens” ?

  27. Thank you for keeping everything SIMPLE and realistic. I find you site very informative and nurturing in this crazy game we call “getting fit”. So thank you for all you do!

  28. Thanks! I’ll give it a try. I’m desperate to break my bad habit of not exercising. So I’ll be borrowing some of your motivation.


  1. […] On a positive note I have consistently exercised every week since the end of February. This makes me very proud because up until now exercise has always been a struggle. Want to know how I finally made exercise a habit then check out this post I wrote a couple weeks ago. […]

  2. […] Making exercise a habit: We are lucky to have healthy bodies that can move, dance, sweat, and enjoy life. Exercise is all about finding something that you enjoy doing which is good for your mind and your body! […]

  3. […] Food is only part of the equation the other one is exercise. Sure you can lose weight by reducing your calories but it is much easier when adding in some exercise. Not to mention it helps you tone, reduce stress, and gives you more energy. If you are a regular reader you already know this habit is one that I fight with all the time. To this day I have not found a way to make exercise a routine that I just do. It is more of a battle that I keep fighting. However, I am not giving up because I know the benefits of adding in this last piece of the puzzle. ** Update since writing this article I have FINALLY made exercise a habit. Found out how I did that here. […]

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