Confession: I’m a gym class rat. High intensity rowing plus paddle board stretching while balancing on one foot for the hardest core workout of your life? SURE, sign me up. I live for the weirdest of weird workout experiences because I dislike routine, and quite honestly dislike working out. But classes are expensive, so I attend inconsistently. I need structure, a different mindset and an accountability system. So behold, my secret weapon for sticking to a workout plan: the Brit + Co Planner.

Here are the seven ways I spent the last month successfully implementing a daily routine of at least 30 minutes of activity.

1. Use a customizable planner to personalize the habit. My favorite part about our planners is that the dates are unmarked, so I can start my plan on any day of the calendar year. With my selected month written in, I created a symbol key system so that I could mark each day and accomplishment. By using different colored pencils and various symbols, I felt sort of victorious when writing my color coded schedule and marking in pink as completed.

2. Have a packed gym bag at all times. Along with the planner, I treated myself to a compact gym bag that I could easily carry to work or in my car. I was diligent about having it packed with running shoes, workout clothes, extra socks, a water bottle, my planner, a pouch to carry all my planner goodies, and a nifty snack container at all times. I would also sometimes carry light weights, in case I couldn’t make it to a gym and could do some strength training exercises in the park. With this packed bag, I had NO excuses to not work out.

3. Snack prep! The aforementioned snack container was crucial in getting me through long work days when I felt depleted of energy. I love food, and woo-wee, do I feel hanger like no other. It was the perfect pick-me-up when I needed some nutrients but didn’t want to eat a full meal. I packed pretzels and hummus, trail mix, and vitamin supplements.

4. Schedule in rest days. Rest is so important! I had to give myself a break and listen to my body. A new intense regimen can easily overload the body with too much stress so giving it time and space to recover was V important. There were a few times that a 30 minute walk was all I could physically and emotionally handle. There were also a few times that I treated myself to some delicious cashew ice cream. And I did not feel one ounce of guilt.

5. Affirm with positive vibes to stay on track. There are so many extra planner goodies, like sticky notes, mini washi tape, stickers, and stick-on fabric patches that I used to decorate as a congratulatory win of the day. This actually made me more motivated to get my butt out there every day, just so I could give myself a gold star sticker. You’d be surprised that a little reward can feel the most satisfying!

6. Make playlists. Music is the best thing that can get me through a workout, and a playlist can make or break my focus. Because my goal was at least 30 minutes of activity, I created seven playlists that were each around an hour to give myself room to push it just a little bit more.

7. Journal in gratitude. We’re all familiar with the effects of a gratitude journal, but I had never consistently kept at it. This month felt incredible because every evening, I wrote down three things that I appreciated during the day. Sometimes they were small, like eating the freshest peach I’d ever had, and sometimes they were big, like appreciating my parents’ ability to love unconditionally. I felt a significant difference in my mood after just doing this for one week. It’s a great habit that I still continue to this day.

There were definitely a couple of weeks where I may have taken an extra rest day, but this past month has brought not only a physical difference (pants slip right on! WOO!) but an emotional triumph as well. Having a planner enabled me to set my intentions and keep myself accountable for the habit I wanted form, and it was surprisingly more gratifying than I thought it would be. I hope this encourages you to use a planner to form a good habit!

Will you be picking up any Brit + Co Planners during your next Target run? Let us know on Twitter at @britandco AND share your fave items using the hashtag #BritxTarget across your social media channels!

Photo Styling: Anita Yung

Photography: Brittany Griffin