Making Exercise and Health a Habit


Hey girl, let's talk habits. Fitness and health habits that stick.


What is a habit?


Google describes it as: a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up.


So in other words, it's a routine; a pattern; a ritualistic custom you've integrated into your life -good or bad- that becomes hard to break because you've ingrained it into your behaviour consistently.


Have you ever struggled making the pursuit of exercise, staying active, and being healthy a habit?


Do you find that you're really good at starting, but soon it doesn't take long for that fire to dwindle, and you're practically back to where you started?


Yup. I've also been there and done that, and I get the struggle. To say that it's a challenge is an understatement. That's why we want to cultivate health and fitness as a habitual pattern in your life to the extent that the effect has been reversed! Instead of finding it hard to convince yourself to do it, you find it's actually hard not to workout or do all the healthy things in your daily routine.


How does this even begin to become a reality for you?


That's what this post is all about! Here are some following tips and tricks that I've mastered in my own life that hopefully will help you, too!


...it's a routine; a pattern; a ritualistic custom you've integrated into your life -good or bad- that becomes hard to break because you've ingrained it into your behaviour consistently.

That's what this post is all about! Here are some following tips and tricks that I've mastered in my own life that hopefully will help you, too!


TIP #1: WRITE A GOAL OR PLAN IT OUT

Remember how in one of my previous posts I talked about needing to have a target before you even have a clue where you're aiming? That applies here, also.


A study done by Dr. Gail Matthews, a psychology professor at Dominican University in California did a study that shed light on the impact one experiences in their life when they're writing down their goals.

She was able to show results between two distinct groups: one who wrote down their goals and one who didn't. The result was 42%! Meaning the group who wrote down their goals was 42% more likely to achieve their written goals (if done habitually) than those who don't even bother to write anything down at all.


That's crazy awesome, right?! It should be all the more reason to get out pen and paper and start planning out those goals!


When you're writing down your goals, I would suggest being realistic, and within reach of attainable goals that you actually feel you can reach and succeed at. Along with this, I'd also encourage you to ask a few more questions when considering what your goals are?

  • What are my specific goals?

  • Why is/are this/these goal(s) important to me?

  • When do I want to achieve this goal by?

  • What are easy, tiny, and realistic steps I can start taking right now to start moving in the direction of achieving my goal?

  • What will happen if I don't accomplish this goal?

  • What's one major obstacle or challenge getting in my way right now in attaining this goal?

  • Who can I go to for support and accountability?

  • How much time am I willing to commit to achieving this goal daily?

  • How will achieving this goal change and impact my life for the better?

Remember, these questions are in the context of fitness and health goals you're looking to go after, but these can also serve for any other goals and dreams you are pursuing in other areas of your life!


TIP #2: MAKE YOUR ENVIRONMENT WORK FOR YOU

We often wait around for motivation to come along and propel us forward on the journey for change and betterment. That usually ends up not being the case, however. Motivation is rarely ever your biggest ally in your pursuit to establishing better fitness and health habits.


Discipline and just getting it done gets more out of you and serves you to a far better degree than motivation does.


One of the aspects of discipline you can get started on is asking yourself about what your environment looks like; take inventory of it. Is it serving you or actually proving to work against you?


If you're working out mostly from home because you don't have access to a gym, or can't really afford one, you can still make the best of it by getting creative with home-based workouts. (I'll be touching on this specific subject a little into the near future). Designate a specific spot in the house or apartment where you literally dedicate it to your workout sessions. I would also recommend trying to invest in at least a bit of workout equipment. Get creative with what you use and how you use it!

Discipline and just getting it done gets more out of you and serves you to a far better degree than motivation does.

If you're able to go to the gym, I have heard plenty people say they find it's easier to actually get into gear because they are in a place and atmosphere where everyone else is working out and if they're watching you, you're likely to keep up with the commitment. It's easier to quit when you're by yourself and can nurture the excuses well enough.


If you're like me, I love going to the MMA gym, other than using my home gym (even though I am pretty good at self-motivating), because it shifts my mindset around. If I am not home, it's easier to get serious about training because the energy is different and it rubs off on me quite easily.


Feels like a different chemical reaction that fuels the fire of determination to get down to the grit of the job.


Even in my home gym, we specifically allocated that home space for workouts and exercise and we've made those mental associations which helps to get you into a place of focus and engagement. You're getting the job done; similar to having a specific room in the house as an office. When you're in the office, you know it's work time.


Last point on this tip that I also would include: make sure you're surrounding yourself with like-minded people. Join a fitness class, or get together with some friends so you can all hold each other accountable! It's easy to be brought down for people who deflect the kind of thinking and habits you're trying to normalize consistently in your life. Choose people on the same level and wavelength as you.


TIP #3: MICRO-WORKOUTS

This habit helped me huge, especially as a busy mom of two (soon-to-be three).


Instead of getting stuck into a restricted realm of thinking when it came to what workouts I should do and for how long, I sometimes had to do it where I just fit in micro-workouts into my day, intermittently, at different times.


Most days when I did this was when hubby was working or out of the house and I couldn't get downstairs to our gym while watching the kids, so I made do with my main floor environment resources and constructed a workout out of what was available.


I used the kitchen counter for push-ups. A dining room chair for tricep dips. I had my resistance band with me and did triceps extensions, or biceps curls. I performed air squats and lunges as well. You get the idea. Get creative.


I would do these in a series of sets, doing about 15-20 reps of whatever exercises I chose, and would do them multiple times throughout the day. I would complete 3-4 sets in one patch of time in the morning, then the afternoon, and one in the evening.


You could even consider taking a nice brisk walk that gets your heart rate up part of a micro-workout. I do this as a warm-up and as soon as I get into the house, while my blood and body is still warm, I dive right into dynamic stretches or preparation set of a specific exercise I am about to perform to fire off those specific muscles and then get right into the above example.


You'd be surprised how effective this is in keeping you active throughout the day, losing weight, and it won't be long before it becomes natural to you and alters into quite a beneficial habit!


TIP #4: SIMPLIFY YOUR DIET

When it comes to dietary routines and food lists, the last thing I need while trying to feed two other children and my husband, is an overly complex approach. I try to simplify it as best as possible in a way that suits my lifestyle, my schedule, and my needs.


I hate anything super complicated when it comes to habits and routines... I am all for the occasional challenge that fuels growth and refinement, but when it comes to nutrition, simple is best.


Life is already complicated enough. Why stoke that fire even more?


I have done pretty good through trial and error and figuring out what I need to do in order to sustain myself nutritionally in a way that complements my fitness routine and everyday demands as a mother and pursuer of other endeavours.


In order to accomplish your goals in life, you need to feel good and be able to focus cognitively. To feel good you need to fuel your body appropriately.


Make a list of the foods and recipes you know really helps you feel amazing and tastes good! Key thing here is just to keep in mind that everything you put in your body is what your body will use for your cells. What your heart, lungs, liver, gallbladder, spleen, everything, is made of, is directly correlated with the food you're eating. If you're not functioning optimally and sub-par, you might want to start asking yourself if the food you're eating is contributing to that. Your main goal: the less processed and manufactured, the better. Maybe also designate a certain day of the week where you assign certain meals so you're eliminating the guessing work out of it.


Make room for as much variety foods of all sorts as possible, too, as this diversifies the gut micro-biome. I also try to sift out recipes that are quick and easy to make at the same time so that I am not spending tedious amounts of time in the kitchen because let's be honest, I have a lot on my plate to tackle everyday. The last thing I need is spending a massive portion of it slaving away in the kitchen.


I don't mind cooking at all, but it's not my biggest strong suit, either. This is one of the reasons why I try to simplify it in a way that tailors me perfectly. If you can make something more enjoyable, why not?!


TIP #5: FIND YOUR FITNESS FLAVOUR

What do I mean by this exactly?


Find something you really love and enjoy to do that you can see yourself sticking with for the long haul. Something you'd look forward to and wouldn't be miserable participating in.


...strength training strengthens your body on all fronts, amps up your immune system, burns fat, builds muscle, and allows you to access a new dynamic of functional training that will correspond into all other areas of your life, and workout routines.

Weightlifting, walking/hiking, mixed martial arts, skipping are some of my favourites. This is what makes it seamless for me to glue myself to my fitness routine without fail because I'm picking stuff that I am already naturally magnetized to. It doesn't feel like work when I do it. It's incredibly enjoyable and therapeutic.


The only exception I'd say to make is strength training (at least 2-3 times a week) because this lessens your risk for osteoporosis as you age, and we don't want that happening. There are times where you just have to do things in life you don't enjoy, but what makes the difference is whether you force the discipline to happen or not. This is where you might have to draw out some extra grit to make this fit into your exercise regimen because it's compounding to longterm health effects that your body will thank you for, both now and later.


Of course it isn't just about preventing osteoporosis, but strength training strengthens your body on all fronts. It amps up your immune system, burns fat, builds muscle, and allows you to access a new dynamic of functional training that will correspond into all other areas of your life, and workout routines. Of course there's more to it than that, but you get the picture.


You don't want to be leaving yourself susceptible to injury in whatever it is you're doing on a daily basis; strength training is one of the best supplements for a strong, healthy lifestyle that will transmute into every other aspect of your existence.


Try out new things and see what you really resonate with. This can take some time, but once you figure it out, it's such a rewarding feeling that follows.


TIP #6: CULTIVATE A SUCCESS MINDSET

Like with anything, we first think a thought before anything is played out in action. If we are expecting ourselves to sustain lifestyle habits within the realm of fitness and health, mindset has to be sewn into the tapestry.


That begs the question, though. How do you even begin to culture a success mindset if you haven't already drawn out a mental, architectural blueprint for that yet?


Glad you asked.


MINDSET HACKS

  • Embrace mistakes and flaws. Accept the failures that happen and use it as a tool for success by deconstructing those mistakes, learning from them, and then moving forward with the intention to avoid repeating them.

  • Teach yourself to enjoy the journey: the road to longterm health and fitness is an everyday thing, and some days are going to be easier than others. Teach yourself to enjoy the process and not just get hung up on the end result.

  • Define your version of success. What success looks like for someone else may not be how you determine success.

  • Comparison is a thief of joy so do you, and don't compare your dietary needs, fitness progress, etc. to someone else's.

  • Forward thinking is key: plan ahead and brace yourself for potential setbacks and obstacles that might come up and strategize how to overcome them so they don't remain a problem.

  • Journaling: this is so crucial. Writing helps you organize your thoughts, and the more you're meditating and thinking on your goals frequently, the easier it is to sustain that focus and sense of direction so you don't trek off the path you've set yourself on and end up somewhere else.

  • Always be in a state of growth mindset: you're only as capable as your mind allows you to believe. If you believe you're limited in what you're able to accomplish, that's the boundary line you've set for yourself by default. If you believe the parameters are far more extensive than that, then it's also true.

  • Just focus on improving 1% everyday. Don't take on too much at once. 1% progress will compound to a bigger percentage overall, so focus on putting your all on the 1% of progress and you'll see the end result as exceptionally enriching.


TIP #7: REWARD YOURSELF

Now, please understand I'm not saying to use this as a license to just indulge on junk food. I'm not saying don't have the occasional small splurge, if you'd like, but perhaps stick to once a week, or for me, I do one small treat a day.


When I say small, I mean small. I might opt for a couple of squares of dark chocolate; sometimes I'll treat myself to homemade apple crisp with vanilla ice cream. Or for the current season, I like to opt for a pumpkin spice latte and ginger molasses cookie from Starbucks -but this is not an everyday thing.


The thing is, however, you don't need to pick a baked treat or food in general to reward yourself for sticking to your guns in your health and fitness goals. You can reward yourself with a new pair of workout clothes; go get your nails done; buy a new book. Make it something that you know is worthwhile and will not only keep you on track, but not veer you off the course you've set for yourself; otherwise it won't be long before you're back to square one.


Hope these tips and tricks will help you get on track to cultivating health and fitness as a habitual pattern for your everyday life!


Get it, like a boss!