How to Create a Fitness Habit
Tips to make sure 2021 is your best year yet
Building a fitness habit starts with behavior change, which begs the question: Am I ready to make a change? If the answer is yes, it’s time to move on to three steps that lead to behavior change: contemplation, action and maintenance. These steps utilize the below four tools that optimize our ability to navigate this journey:
1. Use small wins along the way. These are benchmarks that show you’re making changes and heading in the right direction.
2. Live through the vicarious experiences of others. Using others’ success, trials and tribulations give you real-world examples to follow.
3. Understand your current emotional state. We are all emotional beings. Tapping into who you are, what you struggle with and past experiences will give you insight into your current struggles and required support.
4. Accept verbal and social persuasion. Create a network of people that will support you, push you and celebrate your small wins. Sometimes, we need others to inspire us to keep going. That’s okay.
This is the stage where we ask ourselves why we want to do something and then figure out what that might be. From a new routine like waking up early, working out regularly or changing your diet, this is the time when you need tools to make a decision. You need to take an honest assessment about the feasibility of beginning this change. For example, if you want to embark on a 30-day, no-added-sugar challenge, you’ll need to learn what sugar is, what it’s often called and forms you might be exposed to. Then you’ll need to seek out someone who’s completed a challenge like this and ask them questions like:
1. What was their experience?
2. What were some of their biggest challenges?
3. Did they feel a difference?
4. Were they able to keep the behavioral change going after the challenge?
5. What advice do they have for you?
Once you’re here, you’re in. You’re starting to create the habit. It takes about 66 days to create a substantial behavioral change that will become part of who we are, so this stage is all about consistency, support and small steps. Using the example above, if you’re removing added sugar from your diet, a tool to use would be a point system. You get one point each time you have added sugar. Zero points across a day would mean that you had no added sugar. This strategy helps prevent discouragement if you slip or make a mistake, but also gives some objective data on how your progress is going. It doesn’t need to be all or nothing, which can lead to early burnout. This is a tool for support and accountability.
We know that we need to keep this behavior for 66 days to make it a part of who we are. Therefore, the action phase will bleed into the maintenance phase. The goal for this phase is to make tweaks to make the action become a realistic lifestyle for you. From family to work, many factors will come into play here. We must make time for things that are “necessary” but also allow this new behavior to enter the conversation of necessity. Using your social circles to help you, it’s important to surround yourself with individuals that support your lifestyle choices. More often than not, who we surround ourselves with will be the determining factor in our long-term success.