Adapting to a Fitness Routine – First a Habit, then a Lifestyle.

Getting into any routine and adapting it as a lifestyle can be difficult, and in the world we live in now, with constant distractions limiting our focus, it can feel down right impossible, trust me I know… I am a natural born scatterbrain and the new age of tech toys and social media hasn’t made it any easier. For me to make a big lifestyle change it takes a huge effort in really devoting to that habit before all else.

However, when you add in the idea of the hard work and possible exhausting sweat-soaked hours it can take… hell you’ve already talked yourself out of it, right? Your health is the single most important thing you have; I hope you agree. So, developing a sweet lifestyle or “habits” should be very easy… Right? “I’m going to start hitting the gym tonight and have a healthy dinner after! Oh, The Voice is on TV tonight? It’s wing night..? Yeah, I’ll just start the gym tomorrow, no biggie.”

This happens consciously and sub-consciously.

Your habits not only define you… I’ll go as far as to say that YOU ARE WHAT YOU REPEATEDLY DO!

It’s an issue that many face, I’ve been there too – but especially for those who are just getting started in the gym and not seeing quick results. Working out can be viewed as much more a “chore” than enjoyable. They think any of us who get off on it are flat out nuts, lol… Truth be told, I can see why many people hate going to the gym, but once you find that “feeling” you will be addicted too. It doesn’t even need to be at a “gym”, its just about releasing those feel-good endorphins and it’s a beautiful thing when you see your hard work starting to show.

Fact: Recovering heroine addicts are introduced to powerlifting and hypertrophy style weight training while in rehab because it’s the closest thing to a healthy “high” we can achieve. It is a feeling of goose bumps on your skin and butterflies in your belly after a few hard & heavy sets, with your favorite music coming through your headphones playing in your ears, all of a sudden your 45 minute workout turned into 2 hours because you didn’t want that feeling to end! That’s what it can and should be all about!

Massive amounts of feel-good hormones are released when we push past the pain threshold and find the next level, you surprise yourself and for a short time you feel like nothing physical or other could bring you down. Much like runners experience a “runners high”, I thought this was all BS until one day in university when I was forced to run for a class and it happened… now I can never chirp runners again. It was amazing – I ran an extra 3 miles and felt as if I had wings.

If you are trying to get into a new routine and lifestyle (fitness or life), and find that you keep failing to produce, DO NOT get discouraged. You are not just lazy, and you can most definitely beat this if your willing to make a mental switch of your habits/focus and take action.

Sometimes, simply having “willpower” is not enough to instill a new routine. I wanted to give a few helpful tips to get your mind in the right place, and to help get that new habit to become part of your life.

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 1) Connect Tasks

The easiest way to remember to complete a task is to have it connected to something else in your “daily routine”.

When you are getting ready for work in the morning, how do you remember to brush your teeth? Maybe you do it as soon as you hop out of bed, or do you wait until after you have showered?

Habits that are “cued” by the completion of a different activity are always the easiest to get used to and to remember. Try connecting exercise to a daily activity that you always do.

If you get off of work at 5 every day (a daily activity), rather than heading straight home, make that gym time, but you need to treat it if missing that is like missing a day or work! Worse actually!

After time, it will become habitual for you to head straight to the gym once you have clocked out at work, it will be a heck of a lot easier if you take the question mark out of “when” should I go.

 2) Make Pre-commitments

Making a committed plan ahead of time makes it much easier to stay committed to that task. For instance, when I know I have 50 minutes to get in an out of the gym and not a minute more, I generally have a better workout than if I had as long as I wanted and no set guideline at all.

Bringing your gym clothes with you to work, or better yet, planning to meet a friend at the gym after work, are great ways to create pre-commitments for yourself. You won’t want to seem like a jerk for ditching your friend, so you will be more likely to go through with your arrangement.

(Choosing a flakey friend is not a good idea either!)

Personally, packing my gym bag at night always seems to work for myself. My attitude on days I don’t feel like going is, “Well, I spent the time getting everything ready, so I might as well go”.

Psychologically speaking, people do not like to neglect things that they have already invested time into, because if they do, then that time was nothing but a waste.

3) Set Measureable Goals

Lots of people set way too generalized, unspecified goals when they start working out. Saying, “I want to lose some weight”, or “I want to get a bit bigger – more muscle”, this is something that over the years I have stomped out with coaching clients. As I continued learning about psychology and the laws of attraction, I began to see a serious trend happening.

Very vague statements not only have little affect on motivation, but they cut results down completely. It might sound corny and it might take the help of a coach or mentor, if you can’t see where you want to end up and what it looks like clearly in your mind YOU WON’T GET THERE.

If you have a long ways to go this might seem unrealistic so we start in stages, maybe you’d like to be 140 LBS and fit enough to run a triathlon but are currently 80 LBS over that goal weight? Start with a vision (seriously find a picture and make it your screen saver if need-be!) and do everything in your power to making that vision a reality.

By creating clear, specific goals, a person is more motivated to stay on-task, and much more likely to adopt an action as a habit into their lifestyle.

When creating goals, try imposing a time frame onto them as well. Being determined to “lose 10 pounds in the next 2 months, so that you can fit into your favourite old pair of jeans”, is a very specific goal, and allows for a clear assessment of success.

Telling others your goal is healthy and will increase your success chances drastically. Don’t make goals and bury them deep away like many.

4) Create Pre-Emptive Plans for Possible Issues

Once you know what specific issues you may and almost definitely face during your fitness lifestyle journey, create actionable plans and steps for these issues so that they do not get in your way when they arise.

I know for myself, I am often exhausted when I get done work, and anticipate that some days I will want nothing more than to curl up in my bed and watch my favorite show. If you have a day you know you have plans (or a show is on you cannot miss) plan that as your day off!

We all have lives, I’m not saying you need to cut out everything you love – I’m not about that AT ALL, some sacrifices will occur but proper planning will reduce the amount of sacrifices.

To make sure I stay on track regardless of pitfalls, I bring my gym clothes with me in my car most days, if a late appointment comes up but I have a bit of afternoon time or a long lunch I will get my workout in then.

The more specific your identified issues are, the easier it is to make detailed solutions to solve and avoid them.

5) Create a “Master” Game Plan

Creating a detailed plan for what you want to do makes it much easier to develop a habit and in turn adopt that habit as a lifestyle.

For beginners in fitness, plan out your workouts and be precise – especially if you find yourself getting off-track or having poor workouts. Even after 15 years of training I personally fall victim to this one at times and need to get back to a plan. Plan when you will workout, how long you workout for and what specific goals you want to achieve THAT DAY in the gym.

Having a set plan of action and program you trust takes the guesswork out of working out, so you can focus on the thing you really need to be bringing to the table, INTENSITY.

Procrastination is the killer of dreams, ambition and success. It’s often created by uncertainty, so having a detailed plan will inevitably decreases your uncertainty, which will eliminate that procrastination.

 

Doing new things is hard, creating and adapting to new habits is even tougher BUT nothing great ever came from waiting around without taking action. Your new and better lifestyle is yours for the taking. You are never just “STUCK” with the life you have, your situation and future is set by you. You want something? Take the steps, put them into action and make it happen!

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