It takes about two months to form a habit. Anywhere from 60 days to six months is necessary before a new behavior becomes automatic. So why do fitness habits seem so hard to form? A fitness habit isn’t inherently harder to form than other habits, but the culture surrounding fitness can cause problems. Learning to love fitness and form a habit of it can be done, the most important thing is knowing where to start. Here is a quick guide to establishing your fitness habit so it sticks:
1. Figure out your personal motivations
Determining your personal motivation for getting fit or starting to live a healthier lifestyle is a step often overlooked because it seems to be common sense. You’re trying to develop a fitness habit to be healthier or lose weight right? Now expand on that. Explore what actually motivates you to get in the gym and what being active should actually look like for you. Don’t view your workout as a punishment, but rather an opportunity. The culture surrounding fitness these days is very one-sided, with the “Just Do It” mentality; either you are a fitness junky or you are not. But that doesn’t have to be the case for your personal journey. Determining your personal motivations can also include dismantling any predetermined feelings you have about fitness and working out. If you have associated working out with “hard,” “boring,” “no pain/no gain,” then ridding yourself of those feelings and establishing new, more positive outlooks on fitness can be the first step in effectively making it a habit.
2. Set your goals
You are cultivating your lifelong relationship with movement, so setting goals will keep the relationship growth steady and motivating. When it comes to setting goals that will form a habit, you may need to think a little more abstract. You want to get to the point of self-determination, meaning you are motivated to do things internally versus through rewards and punishments. A great way to develop the right mindset for your goals is to actually set macro goals, filled with micro quotas. Your goals should be the bigger picture items (your weightless goal, that half marathon in two months, wedding in the spring) that you are working toward achieving, but your quotas are the minimum amounts of work that you have to do daily or weekly to reach that bigger goal down the road. Creating a fitness habit means you must commit to being active, but make your commitments grow over time as your habit begins to develop. Set an overlying goal, then break it down into achievable weekly or daily quotas. You will start accomplishing your quotas and feeling motivated as you continue to do so, eventually turning your quotas into the habits that will help you reach your macro goals.
3. Create behavior chains
Creating a sticky habit is easier when we make use of our current routines to compliment them instead of trying to fight them. Implement your intentions by picking a part of your regular schedule and then building in your new habit consistently. This allows you to rely on contextual cues to get your workout in instead of just willpower. If your body is accustomed to being active first thing in the morning, in the afternoon or in the evening, you are building a habit for both the physical and the mental that is expected and enjoyed because it is part of your typical routine. Crating behavior chains that link fitness to your everyday life is an effective way to love your workout and make it a habit.
4. Schedule it
When it comes to fitting in workouts, a lot of us claim to do the best we can with our busy schedules. The problem is often a result of “finding the time” to workout instead of “making the time” to do it. If you aren’t making the time to workout, it may not be a priority for you, meaning it certainly isn’t a habit. Making the time to incorporate fitness in your busy life means you are scheduling time for yourself and are going to commit to doing it during a specific time. When you are scheduling your workouts they become a routine. You can be consistent with scheduling and develop a balanced workout of strength, flexibility and cardio each week. When a workout lacks consistency we tend to lean on one type of training, which is where resentment toward exercise can arise. Another benefit to scheduling your workouts and building a habit is that your fitness routine can also become a part of your social circle. Whether its group classes, duet training or one-on-one with a trainer you can develop a relationship with not just fitness, but the people who participate in it with you. Scheduling also allows you to track your progress in an effective way and keep hammering away at your overlying goals.
In our day-to-day lives, habits can be hard to build. There are many factors and distractions that can lead us off the straight and narrow and bring us right back to our old ways. But learning to love fitness and developing a habit of it will keep you on track to reaching your goals. Figure out your motivation, set those goals, create behavioral chains and schedule your workouts. In 60 days you may be the fitness junky you never believed you could be! Need some help getting started? Look no further than Core Progression Elite Personal Training to help determine your goals, stay motivated and see results! We take a unique approach to personal training, bringing the attention back to the individual and their every wellness needs.