So, You Want to Make Fitness a Habit?
I’m sure you’ve heard about habits…you know there are good ones and bad ones. But, before we even think about habits being good or bad, let’s take a minute to talk about what a habit is and why we even have them.
Habits serve a purpose—it’s our brains way of going on auto-pilot to filter through the tons of information it has to process in a day. It’s makes things easier…and, who doesn’t like something easy that you don’t have to think a whole lot about? 🙋♀️
You might be wondering how do habits even form in the first place?
What we know about habits is that every habit has a trigger, the habit itself, and a reward we get from it.
Here’s an example: Stress Eating
Trigger: feeling stressed
Habit: mindless eating of comfort food
Reward: feeling calm and less stressed
The only way to change that habit is to interrupt the cycle. You’re never going to get rid of the stress trigger. You can try, but something stressful will always come up. Instead, we have to work on replacing the habit.
Sooo, how do you do that?
When you notice that you’re feeling stressed, try to interrupt the habit cycle by inserting a new habit instead of mindless eating. Now, let’s be reallll, at first you may not even notice that you’re stress eating until you’re more than halfway through that bag of chips. That’s ok! Stop when you notice and do the replacement habit instead. That replacement habit could be anything that you want—meditation, taking a walk, gardening. Whatever you enjoy. It should be something that produces that same reward of feeling calm and less stressed.
Okkk, so now you understand how habits work, so how can you apply this to making fitness a habit?
Well, you now know that you need a trigger, a habit, and a reward. Here’s an example:
Trigger: phone alarm with reminder to workout at the time you’ve put it on your calendar
Habit: workout for 30 minutes
Reward: this may need to be a tangible reward if you don’t enjoy the workout itself (maybe a snack you enjoy, or 5 minutes of quiet time to read, etc—you choose, but make it something you actually like).
There’s lots of conflicting research to show that it takes somewhere between 21 – 66 days to create a new habit or change an old habit. For the purpose of this post, let’s say it takes about 42 days since that’s just about right in middle of that range.
I’m not going to lie. At first, this is going to feel like a lot of work. Creating and changing habits isn’t easy stuff. Buttt, remember, we know it takes about 42 days to make a habit. That means that after about 42 days, the new habit is going to feel automatic. You won’t even need to think about it anymore…you’ll just do it.
A word of caution though. Even if you make it to the end of those 42 days and you feel on auto-pilot with your workouts, it’s easy to slip into old habits (they die hard after all 😉). This is when it’s important to commit to at least 5 minutes, even when life gets stressful.
You might have a whole week when you don’t have your normal 45 minutes for a workout. That’s okkkk. Make that commitment to yourself that when your alarm trigger goes off, you’ll still do at least 5 minutes of a workout to stay in habit.
So, before you forget, go check out your calendar. Pick out your workout times. Set your alarm and make a commitment to take action when it goes off. I’ll be over here routing for you for the next 42 days.