Alex Aster is the managing editor of The Newsette, children’s book series author, and writer behind Aster Way. As a part of our “Ask Alex” series, she tackles some of our readers’ most pressing questions, in an effort to bring a new perspective to the table. Today, Alex answers a question about working out.

Dear Alex: I have every reason to work out. Not only is it obviously beneficial physically, but emotionally, my anxiety is much more manageable after doing some form of exercise. Even my skin glows when I follow a steady routine! The problem? Even though I know it’s good for me, I am constantly sabotaging my workout sessions. I’ll sleep in, convince myself I’m getting sick, make up any excuse not to get to the gym. How can I commit to this helpful habit without flaking?

Alex: It’s incredible that you’ve discovered all of the benefits of working out, other than the physical ones we so often focus on. It’s incredibly common to make a seemingly detrimental choice, even when we know the consequences. How many times have you kept scrolling through your phone even though you know that staying up late will make you much less productive the following day? Or kept plucking your eyebrows past a certain point because you just. can’t. stop. ? The siren’s call of “bad” behavior is a strong one. So, how do you break the spell?

Create some accountability. Recruit a friend (or even co-worker) to follow a workout routine with you–and stick to it. It’s a lot harder to flake when there’s someone counting on you. Similarly, you can present a financial incentive for showing up to the gym–if it’s in your budget, you can hire a personal trainer, or sign up for classes that still charge you money if you don’t make it. These offer temporary solutions, but I believe changing your mindset is the best long-lasting option. You know why working out is important for your life–so, you need to make room for it. If you’re never going to be a morning person, work out at night (even if it’s really late!). If you don’t want to go to the gym because it’s far, then buy a few cheap weights, and watch workout videos in the comfort of your home. Make a plan, have someone hold you accountable to it, then record how you feel a month later–if it’s working, then don’t stop! Good luck.

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