7 Helpful Habits to Help You Keep An Exercise Routine

by Christine Lewis, PWCG Founder 


You’d think that having gone through treatment for stage 3 breast cancer would be enough of a wake up call for me to get my act straightened out, and in a lot of cases I do make much healthier choices now than I ever did prior to my diagnosis. That said, there are some days when it’s harder than others for me to want to get outside and go for my daily run with my dog. In those cases, I try to follow the 7 tips below:

1) Start Small 

You’d think that recovering from major breast cancer treatment, including chemo, a mastectomy, and radiation would be enough to considerably slow me down, but shortly after I was done with a majority of my treatment I wanted to really get in shape in a major way. I had visions of doing kick-boxing, or training for a marathon. I somehow pictured that as the way to beat the $h!T out of cancer and keep it from ever wanting to mess with me again. While kickboxing and running in a marathon are goals that I may eventually master, I was wanting to get to them straight out of the gate, but my body said “Whoah, Nelly!” I found my body exhausted from radiation, and then when I got used to taking Tamoxifen I felt like it zapped my energy. I was definitely finding my “new normal” and it wasn’t like it used to be. I discovered that simply walking for 30 minutes each day was an admirable goal. We have to take baby steps after treatment, but we’ll eventually get there. I’m almost 5 years out from my diagnosis. I now usually get up at least 5 days week (lately more like 7) and almost run the entire route I used to only be able to walk. Had I continued to insist on marathon-level running I probably would have quit the within the first week. 

2) Break Your Goal Down Into Steps


I’m still not registered for any marathons, but I’m much closer to doing that than I was straight out of radiation and introducing Tamoxifen to my medications. I didn’t get to where I am today with my exercise routine overnight. I started out with the goal of consistently walking 30 minutes a day. Then I pushed myself to run a small section of my route and walk the rest of the route. I would slowly add small sections of my route (in monthly increments), and today I usually run at least 3/4 of my route and walk the last 1/4 of it  (so I can cool down).

3) Track Your Progress

There’s something about writing out what I’ve already accomplished that helps me visualize how much I’ve already overcome. When I feel like I’ve messed up, looking back at how far I’ve come helps me keep going. I feel less like quitting than if I couldn’t see how much I’d accomplished. Something as simple as writing out the task of the routine, and then checking it off for each day I did it makes it easier to stay on track. That check mark is a reward in itself for the progress I’ve made, but if you need a bigger reward then, by all means, reward yourself. Just remember to write down every time you’ve stuck to your exercise goal so you can look back and see how far you’ve come.

4) Choose a Routine You Can See Yourself Doing Every Day

Pick a routine that’s easy to maintain over time. If you don’t live very close to a pool, and swimming is your exercise routine, you’re going to have to a) build a pool in your backyard b) move closer to a pool c) find a way to make a habit of driving yourself to the pool every day. I chose walking because it’s fairly easy to do on a daily basis. The only time I have an issue is when it’s raining. On those days I can find an enclosed shopping area, like a grocery store or mall, and walk there. Or I pop in an exercise CD as an alternate form of exercise. Or I dance for 30 minutes or more. The point is to choose something that doesn’t require you to go too far out of the way to keep doing it.

5) Make Other Habits Conducive to Maintaining Your Exercise, and Vice Versa

I exercise in the morning for several reasons. 


1) Once I’ve exercised, I’m done. I don’t have to worry about checking exercise off my to-do list all day long because it was one of the very first things I did for the day.


2) My exercise routine gives me energy that helps me stay efficient all day long. It wakes me up. It gets my momentum going. It clears the fog from my brain. It gets me in a good mood. It basically helps me start my day of right from the very beginning, which helps me maintain other good habits. 

3) If I exercise at night I find myself having a hard time winding down and getting a good night’s rest. 

4) I find that it also helps me maintain my exercise routine when I maintain other healthy habits. If I go to bed on time I’m more likely to get up early enough to finish my exercise routine. If I eat right, I won’t be up half the night with bowel issues or heartburn. If I practice the habit of journaling, meditating, reading my Bible, and praying I find that it’s easier to put my worries to rest so I can relax at night and get a good night’s sleep so I’m ready to go in the morning.

6) Have An Accountability Partner

You might laugh when you hear who my accountability partner is. My dog. Yet he gets me up in the morning with his long nose, whining, and sniffing. If I don’t take him out for a run I can tell he’s disappointed all day long. Not only do I have a better mood when I go for my run, but he does too. While he still barks at most people going by our front yard, he barks less. While he’s not a social animal, he’s more social when I’ve taken him on my run. I had to train him not to wake up the entire house when we go for our run. I don’t want to mess that up and have to start all over with that training. I’ve gotten him into the habit of eating his breakfast while I put on my running shoes. He no longer barks when he hears the rustling of the poop bags I take with me so I”m not leaving a mess on someone’s front lawn. He even sits so I can put his walking collar and leash on, and when I open the door for us to leave the house. He usually doesn’t stop to poop in the middle of our run. He either assumes the position before we get our run started or when we’re cooling down. Do you really think I’m going to stop exercising and face having to start that all over again? Ha! Ha! No!

7) Keep Your Eye on the Reason You Want to Exercise More

These little people above (who aren’t so little any more) are who I fight for every day. I couldn’t find the picture that also included my husband, but I definitely fight to have more days with him as well. I don’t want him left behind to try to figure out how to be a dad and mom to our children, or how to change his career to be there for them more often – – picking up the slack of my absence.  I don’t want my kids growing up without me. They’re getting closer and closer to becoming adults, but I don’t want them fresh into adulthood without being able to call home and talk to me. I hope and pray, every day, that when I die it’s well into their adulthood, after they’ve finished school and found themselves very well established in their own lives. I need more time to make memories they can look back upon. I need more time to create a presence they can feel no matter how near or far I am from them. These people above are the reason I get up just about every day and exercise. These people above are the reason I try to eat healthier. These people above are the reason I try to go to bed at a normal time and not mess up anything under my control that I can do to stick around for them. 

So What About You?

Why do you want to exercise more? 


What kind of exercise routine are you considering starting? 


What is your plan? 


Who is your accountability partner? 


Why do you want to exercise more? 


Drop me a comment below. 

Join Us

If you’d like more tips to help you maintain a healthier lifestyle because 
1) you got a scare when you had signs or symptoms of breast cancer
2) you recently got diagnosed with breast cancer and want to maximize treatment’s effectiveness and minimize side effects
3) You’re in a “new normal” of managing side effects and wanting to keep breast cancer WAY back in the shadows,
join PWCG as a premium member here. 

Thank you for stopping by!


About Me

When I was diagnosed with Invasive Ductal Carcinoma in 2015 I wanted my journey with breast cancer to have a purpose. First and foremost, my family was my motivation to fight this disease. I made a lot of lifestyle changes so that I can be around for my family for many years to come, but I also felt inspired to archive my journey so that others could benefit from what I’ve learned and applied.This was why Pink Warrior Calendar Girls was founded.

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