The One Piece of Advice That Has Completely Changed My Workout Life

Turns out, Jillian Michaels really knows what she’s talking about.

“You’ve got to find those half-hours and you have to schedule them in ink and make them non-negotiable.” That’s the exact advice fitness queen Jillian Michaels gave me back in April when I asked her this question: How — oh, HOWWWW — on earth can a human whose daily planner is so jam-packed that it looks like a freakin’ rough draft of The Odyssey squeeze workouts into their life — and ACTUALLY stick to them?

Now, penciling the words “12 p.m.: 30-minute run” into your packed planner doesn’t sound like it would be a truly life-changing practice, right? But I’ve started doing just this and — this is the key, guys! — working the second part of Michael’s advice into my life over the past few months: I’ve started thinking of those time slots devoted to exercise as completely non-negotiable. And let me tell you, this tweak in my thinking has totally changed my workout life.

Now, don’t get me wrong: It’s not like I am Oprah-level busy or anything. But my planner is certainly not empty, and I — yes, I, a health and fitness editor — have a hard time prioritizing workouts over things like work and, let’s be honest, happy hour with friends. Case in point: The workouts I penciled into my calendar in the past used to be more like suggestions than actual commitments. A note reading “6 p.m. Corepower Yoga class” really meant, “6 p.m. Corepower Yoga class — if you can get out of the office by 5:40.”

So changing the way I think of my workouts — as non-negotiable time slots where I am investing in my well-being, my sanity and my future, the same way I think about other non-negotiable activities like work — has totally altered my workout life. These days, when I pencil a 6 p.m. Corepower class or a lunch run into my planner, there are no if, ands or buts about it — I am going, just like I am always, without question, attending a meeting that is penciled into my calendar.

This has paid off in a number of ways: To name the obvious, I’m feeling more fit because I’ve skipped many less workouts; I’m happier, because hellooooo endorphins; and I’ve actually found that I end up being much more thoughtful — and excited! — about my weekly workout schedule, because instead of haphazardly jotting a half-assed workout idea down in my planner, I thoughtfully select what I would wholeheartedly like to spend my time doing — because I will, without a doubt, be doing it.

So my friends, if you find that you are more often than not deleting workouts from your Google Calendar on the days you’ve planned to squeeze them in — because, well, life — repeat these simple words to yourself the next time life threatens to get in the way of your workout plans: It’s non-negotiable. Trust me: It works.

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