Exercise. Just say the word to some people and they may have a convulsion. Not because they don’t like the IDEA of exercise. After all, most people intuitively understand that exercise is important and needed for a healthy and vital life.
However, telling someone that they need to start exercising can be like telling a child to clean up their room before they can have dessert. They understand that they need to do it but come up with all kinds of reasons why it can’t be done.
But why is it so hard making your workouts stick? Is it really because you don’t have enough time? Is it really because you don’t have the finances? Unlikely. On the surface these excuses might be good cover ups for not starting a training routine. But, there’s probably something deeper going on.
And, in order to understand what that deeper thing is, let’s take a quick look at why we can be such poor planners sometimes.
Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail
We all have areas of our lives where we are great at planning. For instance, maybe you are great at planning family vacations, picking out all of the great restaurants and attractions so you always have somewhere to go. Or, maybe you’re great a planning out big business projects. You understand the next steps you need to take and know when to take them.
The problem is, even though you might be a great planner in one aspect of your life, you are likely an awful planner in many other areas. Typically, those areas where we fail to plan are areas that are uncomfortable for us to pursue. And, for many people, health and fitness are uncomfortable areas to plan for.
Falling Off the Workout Wagon
As an example, let’s look at a typical persons path when they decide to make a change in their lifestyle and become healthier. First, you set a goal that you’re going to lose 20lbs. This is the time! This is when it’s going to happen!
Next, you join a gym, all gung-ho and ready to get after it. And, for the next 7-10 days, things are going great! You’re hitting the gym regularly. You’ve lost a couple of pounds. Your energy is up.
Somewhere around day 10, something happens. Suddenly, you miss a day because a friend wanted to go out for dinner. But, no worries, you’ll get back on track tomorrow.
Then tomorrow comes and, you guessed it, you have to stay late for work. No problem, you’ll get back to it the next day. Yup, the next day shows up and, well, it’s been a long week and you just feel like relaxing.
Before you know it, you’re back to where you started, convincing yourself that you’ll try again next year.
So, what is it about this sequence of events that causes many people to fail when they’re trying to make a healthy change in their lives? There was no plan, no basic understanding of what was going to be accomplished as you moved forward.
Maybe, then, it makes sense to create some action steps to help you know what you are going to do to actually make yourself better!
Developing a Plan of Success for Making Your Workouts Stick
Like I mentioned above, we fail to plan in areas that make us uncomfortable. Exercise and fitness is one of those areas for most people. Instead of going in blind and not knowing what to expect, why not make it easier on yourself and set a plan of action that will help you achieve?
Let’s look at 3 steps you can take to make your next try at health and fitness stick. Because, the truth is, the sooner you get started, the better off you’re going to be. Your health is literally ALL you have.
Yes, we need money.
Yes, we need shelter.
Yes, we need food.
But, without your health, none of these resources matter.
#1) Get it on Your Schedule
The first thing you’re going to want to do to make sure you succeed is get your exercise on your schedule, literally. I know you likely have a calendar. Maybe it’s on your phone. Maybe it’s hanging on your fridge. Your first step is to decide when you are going to exercise for the next 30 days.
If you’re just getting started, don’t convince yourself that you can do more than you think. Many people jump in head first, only to find out that they are over their heads. At Thriveology, we always start by asking potential members how many days a week can comfortably fit into their schedule. Then, we have them schedule those days into their calendar for the next 30 days.
This makes in concrete. It’s like a doctor’s appointment. Don’t you usually schedule your next check up at the end of your previous check-up? And that could be 12 months down the road! Why should be it be any different with our health?
#2) Set If-then scenarios
In your first couple of weeks, it’s likely that something is going to pop up that will throw you off track. An emergency may pop up or a work deadline may creep in, and suddenly your workout schedule is thrown off-track.
If-then scenarios let you plan what you will do if an unexpected situation comes about. For instance, we have a handful of nurses that are members of our Pack. Most of them (probably all of them) are on-call at some point during the month. If this is you, your if-then statement might be “If I get called in to work on a workout day, then I will reschedule my workout immediately for the next day”.
Or, let’s say you’re a stay-at-home parent and you hung up at home for some reason. Your if-then statement might be “If I can’t make it to the gym, then I will go for a walk for 30 minutes instead”.
These are just some basic scenarios. You have to figure out what works for you. At the end of the day, the more scenarios you can play through, the better off you’ll be. THEN you won’t have any excuses!
#3) Set bright lines
Okay, this strategy isn’t necessarily about planning. However, I believe it’s important to put your self-belief on the line in order to help you sustain change for the long-run.
A bright line is a statement that you set for yourself that you decide that you will never cross. It is a standard that you create that you never let down. It is your belief about who you are and what you can accomplish.
Let me give you an example. I believe that it is important to only do and think things that are moving you towards your goals. So, one of my bright lines is “I’m the type of person that only thinks and does that which moves me towards my goals”.
If you’re just getting started in exercise, your bright line might be “I’m the type of person that never misses a workout”. Or, if you’re trying to lose some extra fat, your bright lines might be “I’m the type of person that doesn’t eat processed carbohydrates”.
You get the picture. The point is to attach your identity to the action that you want to take. This way, if you have self-integrity, you feel the pain (only briefly) of letting yourself down when you cross that bright lines
These are just 3 basic strategies to help get you on a path to a better you. I know these things work because these are the things that we teach our Pack members at Thriveology. So take the next step and hold yourself accountable. Or, if you’re ready to really move forward, find a community that will help hold you accountable. Always shoot to improve yourself every day!