Habits can be powerful, and that power is a double edge sword. Of course a habit of exercise can be a great thing. It often stays beyond the reach of many, making sustainable fitness results so allusive. However, I see strong exercise habits as a source of some big problems. Try getting a yoga fanatic to avoid excessive stretching contributing to their excessive joint instability, or a runner to curtail road work for some much needed power training, or a power-lifter to embrace corrective exercise in lieu of heavy dead-lifts.
Habits are a force to reckon with, yet if you learn the secret to forming and breaking habits, you will have a profound ability to affect your quality of life. That’s why I’m so fascinated with habit formation. Here are some critical solutions to modifying habits.
1. Give Yourself Time
All of the current studies on behavior show that it takes about 21-254 days to integrate a new habit into your life. Most of us are so impatient and hypercritical of ourselves, we think there is something wrong with us if we don’t quickly form habits. This is simply denying science. Giving up too early is the root of many problems, and this is particularly true with habits.
2. Define Your Goals and Motivation
Take some time to write down your goals. What do you want to accomplish? Why is that important to you? Set outcome based goals (lose 20 lbs by November) and/or processed based goals (12 workouts in 1 month).
Next, write down your deep motivation. Why do you want this goal? How would it change your life? The deeper you dig, the greater your success. Matthews in 2007 showed that those who go through this process are successful 43% of the time.
3. Share Your Goals
Sharing your goals and then reporting on your progress to an outside source on a weekly basis was found to increase chances of success by 33% vs. simply writing them down. That is why we design most of our programs around at least weekly sessions with our coaches.
4. Define Your Obstacles
Commitment is vital, so if something stands in your way, LET US KNOW! We are the masters of knocking down barriers and navigating around all obstacles, big or small, that impact your commitment to your health. We will help you conquer these so that your commitment will lead to results.
This might take some time. Rarely are obstacles a personality trait issue. Defining yourself as lazy, unmotivated, or undisciplined are usually cop-outs and deflections for taking responsibility to dig deeper and fix the issue. Instead, we will often find patterns that implicate a logistical or environmental barrier, not a personality trait as the key obstacle.
For example, constantly overeating at dinner is often simplistically blamed on being an undisciplined carb addict. Labeling yourself as such does not come with any meaningful solutions. Instead, finding that you had a skimpy snack at 11 and haven’t eaten for 8 hours, are tired and stressed, and junk food is convenient and in reach poses problems that willpower doesn’t have a chance to overcome. However, there are several clear solutions to this when implemented, allow for life changing results.
5. Write Reminders
Even with a set goal, sometimes we can slip off course – that’s why daily reinforcement is vital. Write out your long-term goal on a 3×5 index card and read it out loud to yourself each morning and night. Even carry it with you as a continual reminder throughout the day. That may sound like some metaphysical mumbo-jumbo to you, but I promise. . . .
It works! Out of sight, out of mind. Take it another step and assign someone in your life with the simple task of reminding you every day what your goal is. Even better, write them a letter telling them what your goal is, why it is important, and what they can do to help you. It.Works.Every.Time.
6. More X, less O
Take out your calendar and mark off a minimum of 3-4 days each week for at least the next 4 weeks when you will come in for your sessions or exercise on your own with a big circle. Then do it, and mark an X when done.
7. Use Social Support
Research shows our friends and family can help with our health goals, but you often have to tell them exactly how (stop telling me about every new diet you hear Dr. Oz talking about. Instead, remind me to be sure I go to the grocery store 3 times a week.). Share your goal, what it means to you, and how they can help. Or simply introduce them to us: share a newsletter article or invite them to come in for a consult. They will be more supportive if they learn about our approach to getting healthy.
Be consistent! Stick to your commitment! When you consistently meet your short-term goals, a feeling of confidence and certainty in the outcome sets in, and this becomes your driving force. Motivation comes from results, not the other way around. Your consistent commitment combined with our support and guidance will bring you the results you want.
9. Record and Track Your Progress
Keep a journal of your daily nutrition and exercise (sound familiar?) Doing so will allow you and us to gauge where you are on your “road-map” to success!
Now that you have the tools to get you started on accomplishing your goals, having a coach to help you along with the process is another key factor in providing the knowledge, motivation, and accountability you need to succeed. If you need our help, we are only a click away.