This time of year many of us have made resolutions to make positive changes in our lives, only to find by the time February rolls around we have either given up or not really followed through.
I thought it would be a good idea to expand on a favorite resolution for many people, and that is to exercise. The only way to really make it work is to make it a HABIT. Here are some tips to show you how:
1. Give Yourself at Least One Month – It takes a good 30 days for something to become a habit. Ever notice how some companies give you a 30-day product trial? This is often done with computer software and also infomercial products sold on TV (think of Proactiv). Okay, you’re probably thinking, “what does this have to do with me getting off my butt and exercising?” The point is, usually after one month of doing something consistently (and seeing results), it is more difficult to give up.
2. Do It Daily (or almost) – Remember when you were a kid and your mom made you brush your teeth daily (or hopefully twice a day)? Well, there’s a reason for that. If you do something daily it is more likely to become a habit. Do you really have to think about brushing your teeth in the morning anymore ? No! (at least let’s hope not). You can do the same for exercising. Now I don’t suggest jogging or running every day (your muscles need a rest), but you can still make exercise a part of your daily routine. On the days you don’t run, you can walk or at least do some stretching.
3. Be Consistent – Consistency is really key to making changes stick. Best to do the habit the same time of day, every day. After time it will naturally fall into place.
4. Find a Buddy – It’s much more difficult to put off going for a walk if you’re meeting a friend. You don’t want to disappoint them and they can help keep you motivated.
5. Write it Down – Keep a journal or just use a notebook to write down what you did that day. This way you can visually see your progress and there’s a positive reinforcement to writing something down.
6. Start Simple – Too many people hit the fitness center with gusto or decide to run for an hour every day. Then they just get too overwhelmed and give up. Take small steps and keep it simple. You can’t change overnight. Remember, it’s about the pace, not the race.
7. Just Do It – Like the famous slogan, just get out there and do it! Don’t think too much and make excuses. Just get outside or step on that treadmill. Once you start it’s more difficult to stop. Often the most difficult step is the first one. The days I don’t feel like exercising I just put on my workout clothes, go outside and 30 minutes later I’m so glad I did.
Making new changes, like exercise, is not always easy. But it can be done! Just remember, after 30 days it will get easier, and the next 30 days even more so. Before you know it, exercise will be a habit which you’ll enjoy doing and will become automatic.