How to realistically create a rock-solid workout habit.
Who here has ever waited for the Monday to arrive when everything would change? We anticipate the changes to come by indulging in sinful acts of gluttony and binge-watching because come Monday, we’re clearing the decks for the much-anticipated change that’s a’coming!
My hand is raised! I’ve always found that the excitement and the build-up to the day was a very motivating factor. The possibilities — oh the endless ways I was going to clean things up, make better use of my time, nurture my body with foods that would provide it with dense nutrients, and vitamins it had been lacking. I was finally going to do away with my bad habits and don a few healthy ones.
But as the story goes, after day 3, which proves to be the most challenging, our motivation begins its inevitable descent. Our excuses begin hopping aboard again, like good friends we haven’t seen in ages, and our descent turns into a plummet. (Because these friends are right! I deserve a break, a treat, a cheat day.)
Motivation is a fickle companion. It’ll leave you in the throes to wither and die, only to return again as if nothing ever happened, placing the blame on you for its disappearance.
We’ve learned this lesson time and time again. So how do we tackle this “motivation” problem?
Here’s what can help.
Motivation gets you started, habit is what keeps you going is a well-used phrase. I’ve used it in many of my challenge emails as a way to help people see the flip side of motivation.
Yes, it gets you going in the first place, but it’s not what gets you to the finish line. The idea is that you begin new habits because you’re excited to change things up. Once you have the habit, or routine in place, you don’t need the motivation anymore, you can solely rely on the power of habit.
If only that were true. Because if that were true, we’d be the healthiest planet in the Universe. Hospitals would treat cuts, bruises, broken limbs, and deliver babies. Pepsi and Coca-Cola would be farm-to-table, and we’d all live to at least 100.
Unfortunately, this isn’t our reality, and habits don’t always stick around either. (Just try to find your habit when you come back from vacation, or you recover from an injury. You’ll see it has found the world’s best hiding spot! And no, I don’t know where that is.)
So what can we do when motivation plummets and habits bail?
Here are three best practices to employ when trying something new, something you’re set on making a habit. (Note: this is a practice, meaning you must work at it, tweak it, and try performing it better each new day.)
Start off with these three things:
In any form, but preferably in a friend, or group of friends who have no qualms calling your lame-ass out for being an excuse hoarder, because that’s exactly what happens… we hoard excuses and then hurl them at those who question us.
Don’t be the one who thinks “I have no time” is a perfectly valid excuse either. A few other gems you may want to discard are:
I’m too tired.
I can’t get myself out of bed in the mornings.
Work is too stressful.
My kids need me. (Which is basically what you’re saying when you’re tired, stressed, or feeling guilty for not being available to your children 24/7. Psssst… they’re fine with the separation, it’s what will help them become socially acceptable individuals who can function independently. Plus, if they see you working out or eating delicious healthy snacks, it will impress them.)
When you have someone, or a crew, to lean on when it comes to doing what needs to be done, even when you’re dead-set against it, you’ll show up more times than if you went it alone. It’s been proven in research… do you need me to go digging in Google scholar to prove it to you?
Trust me, accountability is going to get you to show up more than motivation ever will!
Action step: Take it upon yourself right now to think of one person you can call on to be your accountability partner (and it’s probably best to not use your spouse for this… don’t stir the pot if you don’t have to!)
Decide what’s important, and what’s not, and stick to it!
Instagram is NOT important. Facebook is watching your every move. Tik Tok is owned by another country that doesn’t have your best interest in mind.
Email is full of junk — mostly 😉 I’m in there soooooo yea…
Anyway, my point is to stop the colossal “screen-suck” time-waster that you hold in the palm of your hand. It’s become the silent habit you don’t realize you have.
Case in point, I’ve recognized my own bad habit with my phone. When I get an instant message from a friend, I’ll, of course, quickly check it — because the little ding or vibration is crack to my brain — and after I shoot off a reply, I’ll check my email. Why? I have no friggin’ clue why but somewhere along the way, this became a blind habit of mine.
Once I noticed it, I noticed it often. I witnessed it happening —and it was freaky, as if my fingers and thumbs were in cahoots against my sensible brain. My brain would try to stop it, but it was always after I had already opened my email… too late, sucked in by junk.
Pay attention to your phone habit because I’m certain it’s one of the things that’s sucking time away from you. And your attention, focus, and sensibilities. (We know better! We tell our kids to be better!)
Action step: Put it down, walk away for 30 minutes, workout, come back to it, resume phone hypnosis.
Don’t be vague.
Starting tomorrow I’m going to workout! (that exclamation point is your ever-present initial motivation — which we now know is already beginning its descent!) is so vague and non-descript. It’s like saying I’m going on vacation tomorrow without having an itinerary, plane ticket, or hotel reservation. Sure you are.
Tomorrow then becomes the next day, and then the next, and then you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night feeling like a failure because you can’t seem to get your life in order, or at the very least get in a 15-minute workout that you know will help you feel better, manage stress, and tire you out so you can actually sleep throughout the night! (And if you do suffer from a 3 am worry habit that keeps you up till the sun begins to rise, I have two tips to help you work through that.)
There’s a reason there are time management guru’s out there making millions off people like you and me. It’s because we’re not specific. We do things like “winging it” and “playing it by ear” and give a lot of decision-making power to how we’re feeling in the moment. We think we’ll make time for something when what we need to be doing is making a plan for something.
Action step: Here’s what I want you to do tonight, before you go to bed, or before you finish your workday and get distracted by the kiddos. I want you to take 4-minutes and plan out your day for tomorrow.
Seriously, it will only take 4-minutes. I want you to place on your calendar three important things: 1. what time you will workout and the length of time you will do it for, 2. what workout you will do (i.e. yoga, Peloton, pilates, etc.), and 3. what you’re going to make for dinner.
That’s it. Those three things are all you have to plan out.
To reinforce this idea, or if you find yourself with a wonky schedule and you’re already saying, but AM, my day to days are always different, watch this, it can help!
And for all my mom peeps out there… this is incredibly important to do when those kids have days off from school and you know there will be all sorts of distractions buzzing around you. Know when you are carving out time for yourself before the day begins… this way you get in some quality me-time that can make for a much nicer, and calmer mama!
Now, these are three simple things you must put into action for them to be of any use to you, so don’t walk away without:
Deciding who will be your accountability partner, and set it up with them!
Eliminate your ‘screen-suck’ time by paying attention to your little sneaky phone habits.
And get clear on how you’re going to spend your day, and your workout time. Plan ahead and be specific!
Once you’re set-up, motivation won’t know what happened, you’ll be all “Bye Felicia” when it shows up at your doorstep because you no longer need to rely or lean on it for support.
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Now that you know exactly what you can do to improve your odds of getting into the habit of working out, perhaps my free 14-Day Challenge is just the thing to get you started! Learn more by clicking here!
AM Costanzo is a wellness coach, a motivational junkie, loves a-ha moments, and loves to help people feel strong, powerful, and downright fabulous in body and mind!