Isn’t it frustrating when you know what you want to do, or even should do, but you can’t get yourself to do it? Almost as if it’s a drag, you dread it, it’s one of those things that you say to yourself, “UGH… I have to do _____.” Working out on a regular basis is something we all know that we should do, but creating a habit of it can be challenging.
Think about the things you do as a habit on a daily basis that aren’t even questionable:
- brushing your teeth
- taking a shower
- drinking your coffee
- walking your dogs
- putting on makeup
All of these things you do daily. Is brushing your teeth an option? How about walking your dogs? No, they’re not. What about drinking your morning java? or putting on your makeup? Those ARE more of an option but you CHOOSE to do them daily. Why? Because you’ve created a habit out of it.
How can you get in the habit of working out?
- Set a goal. In this case, set a goal to exercise a certain number of times each week for a specific amount of time. For example, you may want to exercise four times a week for 30 minutes each time. Remember this: that the more frequently the activity occurs, the easier it is to develop a habit!!! And, start with a goal that’s attainable. Don’t start out with a 90 minute workout if you know 20 is a good starting point. You can always work up to the 90 minutes.
- Choose a form of exercise that appeals to you. There’s no reason to choose swimming as a form of exercise if you don’t enjoy swimming. Choose an activity that you can enjoy.
- Find the best way to enjoy it. Walking on a treadmill can be boring. However, if you can walk on a treadmill and chat with a friend or watch TV, listening to a podcast or an ebook, it might be more enjoyable. Playing basketball in an organized league can be more enjoyable than running up and down the court by yourself.
- Plan exercise into your schedule. Exercise is like saving money. If you only do it when it’s convenient, you’ll never do it. Waiting until you have time to exercise is a mistake. Make time and build it into your schedule. Create a time consistent every day so that it’s part of your day. Like your morning coffee!
- Have workout buddy. You’ve let yourself down countless times in the past when it comes to exercising. What will one more time matter? You probably feel less comfortable about letting someone else down. Find a partner. And, it will be more fun!
- Stay present while getting ready. It’s the first step that’s challenging. It’s not hard to work out once you’re at the gym. The challenging part is changing your clothes, putting on your shoes, and getting out the front door. Avoid thinking about the drive, the workout, or anything else other than putting on your shoes and closing the front door behind you. Be focused while you’re getting ready on preparing for what you’re doing. Psych yourself INTO it.
- Reward yourself during and after your workout. Making yourself feel good about working out is one of the keys to repeating that behavior in the future. Tell yourself how good you’re doing! Praise yourself!
- Visualize the long-results. Remember why you’re exercising in the first place. It’s to be healthier, feel better, and look better. Visualize yourself six months from now. Imagine how great you’ll look and feel. Imagine the reactions of others and the praise of your doctor when you go for your annual physical exam.
- Avoid holding negative thoughts about your exercise. If you tell yourself, “I don’t want to work out today. It’s boring” while sitting at your desk in the afternoon, you’ll be less likely to do it. Catch yourself and change your thoughts to something positive. Don’t even let those words go through your head.
- Allow for slips. Even Olympic athletes miss the occasional workout. It happens to everyone. It’s important to resolve to not miss the next workout. Avoid using one miss of a day as an excuse to simply quit your workout habit altogether.
Getting in shape is easy if you can develop the habit of regular exercise. The exercise itself isn’t the challenge. Developing the habit of exercising in the real challenge. And that involves your shift in how you think about it, how you present it to yourself, and how you execute that plan of action. The key is to making a habit out of it. You don’t need motivation or self-discipline if you have a habit.
Do you need to psych yourself up to brush your teeth or put makeup on? No, because you have a habit in place. That’s how easy exercising can be once you’ve made a habit of it.