All too often, we structure our fitness goals in ways that require significant changes to established, everyday habits. For instance, getting up an hour before you normally get up to work out each day might not sound like a huge life disruption. But if you’ve been waking up every day at 7 am for the past 20 years, just the act of awakening an hour earlier is going to be a struggle – never mind also getting yourself to exercise. Let’s be realistic about the difficulty of the level of fitness goals we set.
Rather than resolving to make changes that knowingly create significant lifestyle disruptions, we can make non-disruptive enhancements to our unhealthy habits and leverage our existing healthy habits.
If you drink coffee with cream and sugar every day, you could decrease the amount you use, or try replacing the cream or sugar with a healthier alternative.
Nondisruptive habit changes
Make nondisruptive habit changes by stacking habits, a practice that involves adding a new healthy habit right before, during, or directly after one of the habits you automatically do daily, like brushing your teeth or showering.
Try doing 50 body-weight squats while brushing your teeth twice a day and do 10 push-ups right before you get into the shower. That’s 700 squats and 70 push-ups weekly. It doesn’t seem like much daily, but it definitely adds up. Could you add a boost of exercise to amp up your fitness in January using one of your existing daily habits?
Focus on what you’re already doing right
There is a tendency to focus on fixing what we feel we’re doing wrong, like “not exercising enough” or “eating too many snacks.” But when we look at what we’re already doing right and strive to do more of it, that change in perspective can accomplish the same goal in a much more positive and sustainable way.
Think about how often you take a walk. Perhaps you already have a daily walking habit either by yourself, walking the kids to/from school, or walking your dog. Could you extend your walking time by a few minutes? Those extra minutes will add up.
Maybe you don’t have a regular walking habit. That’s ok. Think about any of the necessary times each day you have to walk a distance and get creative about ways to extend it.
- Park farther away
- Take the stairs
- Take the scenic route
- Walk in place while you wait.
- Go a little farther than before.
- Pick up your pace with intervals
- Amp up your walk with weights (1-2lbs. wrist/ankle)
- Carry resistance bands to add in some strength moves
- Add some elevation to your walk. Find a hill or trail with varying terrain
Don’t forget the workout tunes to amp you up!
There’s a reason group fitness classes blast amped-up music – not only does it boost your mood, research shows it can actually make hard efforts feel easier. What’s more, it can also work as a kind of metronome guiding your pace.
You can find apps for music that have workout music playlists and can even choose songs and playlists based on bpm (beats per minute)
In addition, a fitness tracker is a really effective strategy in ensuring you stick to your health and fitness goals. It helps keep you accountable and it even takes advantage of our competitive nature by inciting us to do more.
Keep on track
- Be realistic
- Work within your limits
- Keep track of activity either electronic or journal
- Take body measurements
- Keep a food diary
- Take photos
- Mix it up
- Remember why you started
Forgive yourself if you fall off track at one time or another. It happens to the best of us, but it shouldn’t be used as an excuse to give up. Instead, forgive yourself and use this as fuel to be more determined to hit your fitness goals.