Have you ever started a new workout regime or made a New Year’s resolution only to fall off the bandwagon a few days or weeks later? Well, if you did, you aren’t alone. Why is it that we get so comfortable with the status quo and resist change?
A few years ago, I attended a workshop where the facilitator asked us to change seats in the middle of the day after we got comfortable in our space. Although I didn’t resist it, initially it felt like a hassle. Many of us have trouble with change and especially sticking with something new as humans are hard-wired to resist change- it’s natural behavior. So, how do we then overcome this natural resistance to change and establish new routines that become just a natural part of our being? The answer to that lies in automating our desired behaviors.
Check out these 9 tips to build a solid workout routine and to stick with it.
Know your Why
Before you start a fitness routine or to that matter any new routine, it’s vital to spend time understanding why it’s important to you. Without a strong why, it’s hard to continue something especially when motivation dwindles and the going gets tough. Think about it, if you want to wake up an hour early and start working out, it will get really hard to do that when your alarm goes off in the morning especially if you are tired and stressed. I like doing “The 5 Whys technique” to find your core why for starting something. With this technique, you would start with the main statement and follow that up with a question for why that's important to you and then repeat it 5 times.
Here’s an example:
Statement: I want to establish a habit to workout every morning
Q: Why do you want to establish a habit to workout every morning?
A: Because I want to maintain my health and well-being
Q: Why do you want to maintain your health and well-being?
A: To be the best version of myself
Q: Why do you want to be the best version of yourself?
A: Because I want to have the energy and give my 100% to everything I do.
Q: Why do you want to have the energy and give your 100% to everything you do?
A: Because I want to make an impact and positive contribution
Q:Why do you want to make an impact and positive contribution?
A: Because I want to lead a purposeful and meaningful life
Like peeling the layers of an onion; notice that with this technique, we got to the root cause of our why and found a deeper connection to why we want to do something. All of a sudden, your reason is not just making workout a daily habit but rather to lead a purposeful and meaningful life!
Shift your mindset
Oftentimes we are stuck in the tangled web of negative thoughts and self-talk when it comes to starting something new. To overcome this, it’s so important to shift our mindset. Carol Dwek is a psychology professor at Stanford University and her “mindset” book is a game-changer when it comes to understanding psychology and the importance of mindset. She talks about how there are two types of mindsets: Fixed mindset and Growth Mindset. With a fixed mindset, we see it as either you have a talent or you don’t. So, if you don’t have a talent then working towards building the talent makes you feel inferior and you don’t want to struggle or fail in front of others. Growth Mindset is the exact opposite- belief that you can learn anything if you put in the effort and are open to failing and learning from mistakes.
So, that’s exactly the mindset we need to have when it comes to workouts. Replace the negative self-talk with positive affirmations. Be open to trying out different things and learning from mistakes before you figure out the best workout routine for you.
Set Realistic Goals
Knowing your why and setting goals are key to forming a successful workout routine. Another aspect of this is to set realistic goals. If you’ve never ran in your life, it may not be the best idea to set a goal of running a marathon in 3 months. In this case, running a 5K might be a more reasonable goal. If you are a beginner, focus on starting slow and forming a workout habit rather than focusing on how much time you workout. Perhaps, starting with a 20 minute workout routine might be the best option for now. Key is to set goals that are realistic and attainable.
Set intentions with a plan
A goal without a plan is simply a wish. It’s important to come up with a plan. I picked this tip from the “Atomic Habits” by James Clear- Implementation intention. It’s a plan you make ahead of time about when and where you will act upon your intention. In this scenario, it means getting clear on when and where you will workout. “I will workout every morning at 6:00 am for 30 minutes at my home gym”. As a part of the plan, make sure you figure out what workouts you plan to do during the week. There are tons of workout videos and channels available for free. You can also try out Beachbody online membership to get access to some great workout programs.
Additional resource: Home Exercises: 3 Free online workout channels to support your fitness goals
Research has shown that it’s the repetition that builds a habit and not how long you do it in any given day. When you start a new habit, it’s important to start slow rather than overwhelming yourself. If you have never worked out before, perhaps start with a 10-15 minute workout. You can always progress and improvise once you establish the habit of showing up.
Additional resource: Book Review: Atomic Habits: Proven methods to build good habits
Mix it up
I personally get bored if I do the same workout routine every day. To keep it interesting, try to mix it up every so often. Pick different styles of workouts including HIIT, Yoga or go for a walk.
Reach out to an Accountability Partner
A great way to keep yourself motivated is reaching out to an accountability partner or a workout buddy. One of my friends started this accountability group where we share our workouts and progress throughout the day with each other through the apple watch app. It’s been a great way to hold each other accountable and continue to focus on showing up and motivating each other.
Track your progress
As Peter Drucker said, “What gets measured, gets improved”. Tracking is an amazing tool for 2 reasons- It gives you an opportunity to track your progress and also helps you identify things you can do differently. I find tracking to be a form of motivational well. I love the feeling of crossing off a workout in the calendar as it gives me a sense of accomplishment.
Last but not the least, set aside some time to celebrate your accomplishments and how far you’ve come since you started. Accomplishments don’t always have to be a number on the scale. It can also be working out 3 days a week. When you hit a milestone, take the time to treat yourself with a new outfit or something that fills your cup. There are several apps that reward you for meeting your workout goals. I use the Paceline app and every week I meet my exercise minutes goal, I get to claim an online reward. It’s another fun way to keep yourself motivated to continue the fitness journey. Check out the Paceline here and join using code: DCWJDD. It’s free!
Are you ready to start your workout routine and make it a habit? Don’t wait, start with these 9 tips to build a routine that works for you!