When it comes to exercise, it is one aspect getting motivated, but another to stay motivated.
Whilst motivation is important, what you really need is to create habit.
A habit takes typically around 21 days to form and is a behavioural pattern that we repeatedly perform.
They happen automatically and the more you do them, the deeper they’ll become stored in your brain.
Exercise can sometimes feel like a strain as physical results aren’t instant. If your goal is to lose weight, the process is quite slow and requires commitment, which can cause frustration.
There are things you can do which can train your brain into perceiving exercise as a habit in your life, the same as washing the dishes and running a bath!
We’ve called on Joanna Dase, fitness expert at Curves International to explain all.
1. Bring a friend
Having a workout buddy is a great way to form a habit. You’ll both be accountable for each other and feel responsible for turning up and completing a workout together.
Having each other’s support will create a consistent routine and build up motivation. On the days when you don’t feel in the mood, you can look to your exercise buddy to give you a boost of morale.
2. Plan your cues
Having certain cues in place helps to trick your brain into thinking about exercise.
This is something that needs to be maintained for around 21 days that can create a connection between yourself and exercise.
From having your gym bag packed and ready in the car the night before, putting on your workout clothes as soon as you wake up, or writing down your workout plan so it’s the first thing you see when you wake up.
At the same time, you can take note of the triggers which you urge you to skip your workout, such as drinking alcohol the night before. After a time, your cues will help you to form healthy habits.
3. Reward your success
Rewarding yourself for hard work can make a difference to your motivation and habit forming.
A reward can be any size, but something personal which you can work towards. From scheduling in a spa appointment once a certain number of steps are achieved at the end of the week to going to the cinema if you complete a week of workouts.
Positive reinforcements can go a long way in turning the chore of exercise into a fun activity. Always give yourself credit for every workout you complete and the strength you are gaining.
4. Avoid having an all-or-nothing attitude
Part of why exercise habit breaks is because you are putting too much pressure on yourself.
Staying fit isn’t about being in the gym for hours on end, it’s about staying within your own ability.
A little exercise is better than nothing and it’s not worth enduring painful activities which aren’t on your level yet, as this can cause injury.
Having any amount of physical activity in your routine will have a positive impact on your mental and emotional health.
5. Focus less on results
Unfortunately, you can’t get into shape overnight. Having high expectations means you are less likely to form habits due to disappointment and quitting.
Try not to get discouraged by how long there is to go before you reach your fitness goals or by what you can’t accomplish. Instead of focusing on results, try to focus your energy towards consistency on completing your exercise each day.
You will find that the physical rewards will come quicker once your attention isn’t on the results.