Lifestyle Fitness Habit Development in 7 Steps

Motivation can be a big reason many people fail to make it to the gym. Here are 7 tips to develop a fitness habit!

fitness habit development

Many people say, “Oh I’m exhausted from work, I’ll go another time.” “I couldn’t be bothered.” “I don’t have time.” “There’s no gym close to me.” “I have no one to train with.” “I’m too busy.”

If you find yourself saying one of these or something similar then read on!

1. Find Your Why

One of the biggest reasons people fail to make it to the gym is that their “why” isn’t strong enough.

It is important to remind yourself the why, as well as the what. Do it any time you’re setting a new goal, breaking a bad habit, or making a change in your life. Your why is one the most important things that will keep you going when the excuses or hesitations rise in your mind.

Think about one goal that is really important to you right now. Write down your why for reaching that goal. If you can’t come up with at least one really great answer, then create another goal.

2. Remember That Slow Progress Is Progress!

Some people quit too early because of slow progress, never grasping the fact that slow progress, is progress!

Think of it like building a wall, one brick may seem insignificant, but brick by brick will eventually build a wall. It may seem slow but all those physiques you see out there and admire weren’t built in a day, they took years to build.

Set your sights on a goal, track your progress. As long as you’re making progress just remind yourself that you are slowly getting to your goal. If it’s not fast enough for you then put in more and more effort and eventually you will be on your way to the goals that you desire.

3. Visualization

Studies have shown that visualization will help your mind create a neural pattern for whatever it is that you are visualizing.

This means that you can be training your brain for something physical even though you’re not actually doing anything physical! If you’re not in a positive state of mind, don’t do it. Try going outside for a few minutes and come back and try again.

Next, use all of your senses. The more detailed and more “real” you make it, the more effective it will be. Lastly, get your emotions involved. Really feel what it is like to go through that experience.

Visualization can’t replace hard work and practice, but combined with it, it will absolutely increase your chances of achieving your goals. Practice this regularly to help set yourself up for success and develop a fitness habit.

4. Get Specific

Having a vague goal of “I want to lose weight”, usually doesn’t cut it. You don’t have a specific end goal with that approach. be specific. How much weight do you want to lose? If you lose 1kg, will that be enough?

It also helps with your why. When you’re struggling in the gym or wanting to eat junk and you don’t have a really good why, then it will be easier to give in. Try being more specific such as “I want to lose 10kg in 12 weeks.”

Make sure you are completely realistic with your goals. However, at the same time, make them hard enough to be a good challenge. Remember, an unrealistic goal will kill motivation. Conversely, a goal that is too easily achieved can also lead to boredom.

5. Habit Loop

If you’re still struggling after goal setting then another option to try is something from journalist Charles Duhigg. Charles is an author of “The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business”. He advises making the benefits of working out more fun. Do it by treating yourself to something you enjoy, such as your favourite TV show or your favourite healthy snack. Charles describes creating a neurological “habit loop,” which involves a cue to trigger the behaviour (putting your gym clothes on), the routine (smashing a great training session) and then the reward.

“An extrinsic reward is so powerful because your brain can latch on to it and make the link that the behaviour is worthwhile,” he explains. “It increases the odds the routine becomes a habit.”

Over time, the motivation becomes intrinsic, as the brain begins to associate increased heart rate, the burn, sweat and fatigue with the surge of feel-good chemicals or “endorphins” — the chemicals that are involved in making you feel amazing after you smashed a great training session.

After a while of sticking to this properly, you will train yourself and your fitness habit to enjoy the training itself as the reward.

6. Set Realistic Goals

If you set yourself unrealistic goals you can end up feeling depressed and unmotivated. Before you set your goal, be realistic with where you are at now. If you’re a complete beginner then start small with your goals. If you are already in good shape then challenge yourself a bit harder.

For example, don’t keep telling yourself that you’re going to lose 2kg per week. While it’s possible it’s harder than you may think and not always realistic and sustainable.

Sticking with the weight loss example, if you’re a complete beginner then a good goal may be to lose 5kg in 3 months. Any more than that is just icing.

If you’re more advanced then, a realistic goal may be 1kg per week.

Another tip on the topic of a weight/fat loss goal is to understand that weight/fat loss isn’t always a linear process.

If your calories are in enough deficit to lose 1kg per week, it doesn’t always work out that way, one week you could lose 1/2kg,  the next week 1 kg and the week after you may stay at the same weight. Try not to stress about this as there are many other factors that go into losing fat.

7. Find a Training Partner

There are a few reasons why having a training partner can help with your fitness habit. Having a training partner also makes the activity social. You can even grab a protein shake or a healthy meal afterwards and catch-up with each other.

By doing this you’ll start to look forward to your training sessions because another reward formed from the fitness habit will be hanging out with a friend.

Having a training partner also helps to keep you accountable with achieving your goals. You will want to get to the gym not just for yourself, but you also won’t want to let your training partner down.
You will help each other stay motivated, on track with goals and routine, and encourage each other through the hard times.

Get That Fitness Habit

Getting into a good fitness routine at first may seem daunting, or even impossible. It can be a big change to your life and seem scary. But don’t compare yourself to elite athletes. It’s ok to start slowly and you probably should to avoid becoming disheartened.

Take your time to plan out what the best approach to make it work for you is. Focus on changing one habit at a time and set a schedule. Make sure your goals are realistic and specific. Write your why down and keep it somewhere you can see it often, for example on the fridge.

Anyone can make it work; it’s all about prioritizing and following through, one small fitness habit at a time!

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