Five Exercise Tips to Keep Motivated

Five Exercise Tips to Keep Motivated

Hello everyone, my name is Clair Willcocks, I am 28 years old and I am Galen Medical Nutrition’s PKU blogger. I am an adult with PKU and I was diagnosed with Classical PKU 8 days after birth. I am on 5 exchanges of protein a day and currently taking the PKU EASY Microtabs substitute 6 times a day.

It’s January, so that means it’s time for “quick everyone run to the gym!” due to all the lavish food and sweet treats we consume over Christmas. This is a blog I’ve wanted to do for a while, but I wasn’t sure how to word it, as I’m not a personal trainer or a workout expert and I’m certainly not a dietician. I’m just a regular person with PKU who has a work from home job on the phones. Who am I to offer fitness advice or tips?! I may not be able to offer the secret to a ‘perfect body’ or the top five super foods to boost your immunity, but I know what I can do, is share what I’ve done, what’s helped me and hope that maybe it will help others. So here are my top 5 tips around exercise, that I’ve found help me get fitness into my life.

1 – Try anything and everything!!

Exercise is not a one thing fits all, as everyone has different fitness goals, energy levels and abilities. When people think of getting fit, they immediately assume getting a gym membership is the only way to get a fitness routine going but that’s definitely not the case, especially as everything is so financially tight, not everyone can afford a gym membership right now. Great news is, there are also so many free resources available to try as well as paid ones which can be affordable. If something doesn’t work, just keep trying until you find the one that does! The resources I’ve used so far are:

  • YouTube tutorials – there’s one for every kind of exercise, whether it’s yoga, Pilates, HIIT or dance routines. I used these during lockdown and tried to do one every other day. The great thing is, if you don’t like the way one youtuber does their routines or their voice, you can try another!
  • Mobile Apps – there’s so many free apps with a range of dance workouts from 7 daily minute workouts to “do a split/get a six pack in 30 days” (not too sure about that one but you get the idea!)
  • Setting my daily routine with a few basic exercises I can do in my front room – 5 push ups a day challenge or 30 second plank or 10 squats
  • Exercise routines found on TikTok (often easy, fun, and short!)
  • A walk in your local park
  • A bike ride around your local area
  • Home exercise equipment – you can buy all sorts of cheap equipment now online and in supermarkets such as weights, exercise bands and kettle bells.
  • Gym routine – doing 3 sets at the gym using their machines – 1 day for legs, 1 for arms and 1 for cardio
  • Swimming once a week
  • Exercise classes (often done in local school halls as well as gyms!)

A lot of gyms will have a free trial day, paid apps have one-month free trial (just remember to cancel!) and online videos like TikTok and YouTube tutorials are endless, I just had to keep trying until I found something that made me look forward to exercising. Which brings me to my next point…

2 – If I don’t enjoy it, I won’t do it!

There is so much to try and to experiment with, I found a great starting point to help build an exercise routine was when I made myself a whole list of exercises to try out. Squats, burpees, push ups, sit ups etc. The most important part of going through that list was making sure that I binned any exercises that I just hated doing. It doesn’t matter how good jogging on the treadmill, doing planks or burpees is for the body, if it’s making us dread exercising every time we think about it, it’s no wonder we never get it done!

If I don’t enjoy a class or find I am not motivated to go to it, I just won’t book it again in the future. I don’t see it as a failure just that I’ve not found the right thing for me.

For me personally, I prefer going to the gym to exercise, even though it does cost money and a lot of the workouts I do could easily be done in my front room. I’ve just realised this past year I cannot focus when I try to exercise at home, I need to have a separate place to get my head in the right place to exercise, which is why I enjoy the gym. But if you don’t enjoy something just keep trying different options until you find something you do.

3 – 1% is still better than 0% and 1% gives you room to grow!

With exercise it can be very tempting say “if I join the gym, I HAVE TO GO EVERY SINGLE DAY FOR 3 HOURS” or you see people online doing 10 push ups every day, going for a jog twice a day, doing a 30km bike ride. Seeing all that, I know it can make me feel like what I’m doing isn’t enough, with my one session of yoga in the morning or a walk around the park; seeing that it can make me feel like if I’m not doing enough, what’s the point of doing it at all?

What helps me, is to focus what I’m doing rather than trying to compare myself to others, remembering that it doesn’t matter what I’m doing or how often I’m doing it but just knowing that I am at least doing something. I know a 10-minute walk around the park is still better than nothing. I start off with getting myself out there and then once I’ve got comfortable, pushing myself to maybe do a longer walk or try and run it, has been not only the best way do an exercise routine but actually kept me going week after week.

I’ve tried time and time again to give 100% from nothing, thinking that push will motivate me to keep going but it really doesn’t work. There’s nothing that puts you off exercise faster than telling yourself you have to do 10 push ups and go for a run every-single morning, then finding out your only physically able to do 3 push ups, this leads to you just opting for a sleep in, which in turn makes me feel like I’ve failed and puts me off ever trying to do it again.

It’s all about small steps, putting a little bit of a effort every day, giving that 1% to then aim higher, rather than reaching too high too quickly and falling. Even if it’s 1 push up a day for a week before moving to 3, then a month of 3 before moving to 5, pacing yourself can make a huge difference in getting over the battle of not wanting to do it. Eventually after enough time I can feel myself getting stronger and it may lead to those 10 a day, but knowing I’ve pushed myself in the right way makes me feel so good and keeps the exercise routine sustainable.

4 – Tomorrow is a new day and Monday is a new chance to try again.

As much as I know it’s important to keep an exercise routine going, I can just have days or weeks where I just don’t have the energy, emotionally, mentally, or physically to do it. Again, this can really mean I get stuck in a guilt trip of then feeling too guilty to ever start again or just writing myself off that if I do try again, I’ll probably just give up like last time.

I try to conquer this by knowing that my last week does not have to define my next week. Monday is a new week, a new chance to give it another go. I also do this with my diet, if I’ve had a bad week of eating or not taking my substitutes, I know I can give it another go next week, missing one day or one week of exercise is not the end of the world!

5 – Remembering that it’s not just for my body, it’s also for my mind

I know for me, exercise isn’t just to help with fitness and to make me “swole” or thinner, it also really helps with my mental health. That feeling when I push myself during exercise to further than I thought I could go is really wonderful and it’s amazing how going for a walk, getting some fresh air and spending time with nature, really does genuinely make feel better all over.

I also find after a really good workout in the afternoon or evening, I sleep so much better because I’ve tired out both my mind and body and better sleep is always a good thing. There’s something special about actively going out of my way to do exercise that helps me feel like I’m doing something, that I am in control of and makes me feel good, even if I don’t lose any weight or gain any muscle, the fact I’m doing something, I’m taking action to help myself even if it is, that 1%, is still better than nothing.


Over the past few years of my exercise journey, I’ve discovered the worst thing you can do to yourself is force yourself to do exercise you don’t like, with the belief that the pure idea of “but it’s good for me” will push me along, but good intentions are just simply not enough. To actually create a habit of exercise, it’s got to be something I enjoy, something I look forward to doing, so it becomes a part of my weekly routine as much as going to work or doing a food shop.

Also, the best thing I can do for myself with exercise, and with life in general is just go easy on myself. Life can be pretty difficult sometimes (especially these past few years!) whether it’s financial worries, getting overwhelmed with what’s happening in the world or just feeling overwhelmed in general with my PKU. Just because I miss one day of exercise doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world, tomorrow is a new day and Monday is a new chance to start again.

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