I’m a huge proponent of creating sustainable habits. Because willpower fades and motivation wanes. That’s why…habits.
You have a bunch of habits already. Brushing your teeth before bed. Turning on the coffee before feeding the cats. Watching the news while eating dinner. The order you do your grocery shopping. (I always start in the produce section, for example). The order in which you shave, wash your face, or shampoo when you take a shower.
These habits are so ingrained you don’t even think about doing them.
And you can create the same habits with exercise. The less brainpower you allocate to deciding about going for a run, getting to the gym, or crawling out of bed in the dark for Boot-Camp class, the better.
Here’s some good news! You already have habits in place so you know you can create them! Here is a tip to help you work with the habits you have and also some tough love. Because I care.
- Stack a new habit with a habit you already do, and
- Make the new habit non-negotiable
Stacking your habit looks like this.
- Put your workout clothes and/or gym bag in the bathroom. Shoes, socks, shorts, shirts, headband, watch, music, facemask, etc., the whole shebang. When your alarm goes off and you head in to tinkle, get dressed after you’ve completed your business.
- Next head to the kitchen to grab a cup of coffee and take a swig from your water bottle that you set next to the coffee maker the night before and nibble on the banana that you set next to the water bottle (or not, if you don’t like to eat first).
- Time to head out for your run or to the gym. All before you realized you were awake.
Making a habit non-negotiable is easier than it sounds. Simply put, you exercise 5 times a week. There’s no conversation, no dithering, no discussion. You stack the habits above and then you go take care of business.
Now, life happens. But many of the things that come up (an earlier work meeting, a field trip that you have to drive for, cupcakes that need to be baked for a school fundraiser), you usually know about ahead of time so you will be responsible to shuffle your schedule.
- Will you get up earlier?
- Go later?
The “when” doesn’t matter. All that matters is that it gets done.
I do have some “outs”. If you or your child is sick, you have a family situation or medical emergency I urge you to do what you need to do and come back when you can. In case you were wondering, we don’t exercise when we’re sick and we should give ourselves time to do caretaking without feeling guilty.
Habits take some time to develop and to cultivate. So stack them and make them non-negotiable and see how it goes. Feel free to adjust as needed so you can make this as ‘second nature’ as possible.
You’ve got this. I have faith in you.
Now go run!