New Year - New Habits!
Though I think there is nothing wrong with the tired slogan "New Year - New You" it is one of those overused "motivational phrases" you may see with people in the fitness business. I am not a "resolution" fan either as that word pops up in our vocabulary once a year and only lasts about 3 weeks and the term disappears - much like most people's attendance in the gym.
Why Do Most New Year's Resolution Fail?
To avoid being a resolution maker that does not create the "new you" consider a few of the ways of building habits and making them stick ALL YEAR. In the end, the only way for you to make a fitness goal work - no matter when you start - is to build habits during this first phase when you are motivated to make changes.
One of my favorite practices when starting a new habit is to tie the new habit into another habit. For instance, after every trip to the bathroom, walk for 5 minutes or after every meal, walk for 10 minutes. Walk your dog longer. These are events we do multiple times a day and by simply adding walking to them, you will find that you can double or triple your walking steps each day. Another idea is to add a gym visit or home gym time tied around the time of day when you run errands. Stop by the gym or exercise at home for 15 minutes on the front end of errands and on the back end of the errands run. You will be surprised at how easy this building habits on the back of an existing habit is at helping you stay on track.
Motivation Has to Evolve
We are all motivated at first when we find something that resonates with us (a project, a new career choice, fitness routine, diet, hobby, goals in general). One of the reasons why resolutions fail is because you are choosing to change just because it is time to change (New Year), not because you REALLY want to. You do not need New Year's Day to be your Day 1, but it is a fine place to start IF you have found something that truly interests you in doing regularly, creating a habit around it, and watching your motivation evolve into discipline.
Take a general goal and make it more specific. For instance, instead of saying I want to lose weight and get healthy starting today, say that you are going to spend 20-30 minutes each day walking and adding 100oz of water to my life. Like you do not have to drink 100oz of water in one sitting, you do not have to walk 20-30 minutes in one session either. Spread it throughout the day, add calisthenics exercises and the next thing you know you have created a foundation that can handle harder workouts that last 30+ minutes at a time. But you cannot get there without consistency. Motivation builds habits through consistent effort, and that consistency becomes discipline. Hang on to your new goal so you see that discipline build. You will know it exists when you do something even when you do not feel like it.
While Motivated Build Good Habits
While you are motivated, make sure you have not only started something new, but you have a consistent schedule wrapped around it. Whether it is first thing in the morning, a lunch workout, or after work, having the same time every day devoted to your new habit will develop it more thoroughly. We are creatures of habit and once developed, you will find that making time to exercise even when you don't feel like it = success. Make note of this moment as it is proof that you are succeeding - even more than weight lost or athletic performance gained, when motivation evolves into discipline, you are on the right track toward your goals.
Every goal typically requires two habits - a good one you start and a bad one you break. Face it, you have to replace something with exercise in your day. Maybe it is nothing or maybe it is something that is not productive in your life. This is not an easy process, but your attitude going into this journey makes all the difference.
How Big is Your Want-To?
How bad do you want it? How bad do you want to work hard for it? Those are two big questions that only you can answer as we cannot measure someone's heart. The future lifestyle you seek has to resonate with you deep inside not just the first few weeks of January. You have find something you like or someone you enjoy working out with - the buddy system is important. You have to enjoy getting uncomfortable, and find the physical pain of exhaustion a personal challenge. Because, the discomfort you feel today, will be the strength you feel tomorrow. Each day will build on itself as you become more fit, tougher, and more disciplined.
You can work hard every day, demonstrate your motivation to yourself and others, and evolve into a highly disciplined person. It takes time, and you have to invest in yourself as it pays the biggest dividends.
These are a few of the many common traits of those who have gone before us, and have succeeded. Seeing those who have reached their goals helps strengthen the inner voice that says what you are enduring is not impossible. You should be able to hear yourself say, "Others have completed this – why can't I?" Now go do it one day at a time! Make today Day One!
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Good luck and keep the questions coming. Hope the ideas come in handy. For more ideas check out the Article Section of my StewSmithFitness.com Website.
Stew Smith CSCS - If you have any questions, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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