You may have heard it takes three weeks to develop a habit. We are nine weeks into the new year and it’s safe for me to say that I’ve finally – FINALLY – made regular exercise a habit.
Like many, I’ve succumbed to numerous starts and stops over the years when it came to exercising. But with working longer hours, the stress of virtual learning, and the age of 40 looming near I resolved to make a change – once and for all. After some preparation and prayer, I embarked on my fitness journey. Here’s what I did to make working out a regular habit:
- I didn’t tell anyone. At first, that is. I realized from past observation that if I announced my exercise plans, I would become super competitive with my fellow fitness fanatics and burn myself out. Turns out – science says you shouldn’t broadcast your goals anyway. In May of 2009, Psychological Science published a study showing we tend to not accomplish our goals when we share them. The paper suggests that telling someone makes you subconsciously feel like you’ve accomplished part of the goal (without having done anything). The most I did was post a picture of my Fitbit on Instagram showing I completed an exercise because well, I’m a millennial. We post everything.
- I stuck to one simple goal at time. I aimed to workout for 5 days a week. The specific days didn’t matter. My day starts about 5:30 a.m. and can end as late as 10:30 p.m. I have a full-time job and have to help my kids with virtual / hybrid schooling. So trying to have a dedicated arm day on Tuesday and leg day on Friday wasn’t going to cut it for me. Since my days can become super hectic, I took this one step further and made a micro-goal of working out for at least 15 minutes on a busy day. That way, I wouldn’t cave under pressure and give up when trying to complete my usual 30 minute exercise if my schedule didn’t allow for it. I plan to track my weight loss later and just focus on moving consistently for now.
- I kept a visual, physical reminder. This reminder served two purposes. First, I needed an actual reminder. I’m known for swiping a reminder off of my phone when I am in the middle of a task. Therefore, I needed a visual cue to workout (which I posted in a highly visible area of my home). Second, this reminder – in the form a monthly calendar – served as a tracker. Aiming to workout for an entire month was daunting. So, I simply placed a sticker on each day I completed my exercise. After a week or two, I could see I was nearing completion of my goal which gave me an extra boost to keep going. In January, I used a free workout calendar I found online (from Nourish Move Love) to generate some exercise ideas while tracking my days. I had active rest days so I placed a completion sticker (that I swiped from my kids) on everyday of the month. For February, I still incorporated active rest days, but only placed stickers on the days I actively worked out. I upgraded my tracking by using fitness sticker’s from Capital Chic Designs that I found at Michael’s Arts and Crafts store.
I hope you find these tips helpful on your fitness journey. Above all, be real with yourself. It’s you against you. Find what works for you. Seek your source of motivation, hold on to it with all you’ve got, and go crush your goals!