“How do you make it a habit? Where do you get the motivation from? How do I lose a few pounds?” I hear you ask. Simple. Hard work, commitment and persistence.
The person who makes a habit out of going to the gym every day eventually feels ill if they abandon it. Commitment becomes habit.
Oliver Emberton takes the words right out of my mouth and has a great blog post on how to achieve something big. I’m writing this because I recently read two great blog posts by Leo Babauta and Scott H. Young, on making exercise a habit. After reading both posts, I want to follow in their footsteps and tell you how I went from eating Subway on a daily basis to exercising 6 days a week, and tell you how I made it a habit, and how you can, too.
I will always remember my graduation for the massive hangover I had during the ceremony, sleeping during the guest speakers speech and busting a gut wearing my suit trousers. When the ceremony was over, and I was back in the hotel, the relief I had opening the trousers was the best part of the day. I swore, from that point onwards, I would lose the beer belly and moobs so I could fit into my trousers again.
The first step I took to achieving my goals was joining the gym. Then, realising £30 was coming out every month and I didn’t have a student loan to pay for it, was the kick up the arse I needed to get fit. Here are 5 rules I set so I would stick by my word:
- Small Steps – Like anything new, the best advice is to start small. Otherwise you run *cough* the risk of putting yourself off exercise altogether. Walking to/from work or having a walk once you get home is great for getting started. Start to set yourself goals like walking a certain distance each day or walking within a set time, because this will be something to work towards and you will start to see an improvement. You’ll surprise yourself and before you know it, you’ll be running!
- Making Time - Exercise doesn’t have to be an hour or more to burn calories and get the full benefits. So long as it’s the right exercise, 20-30 minutes will do the job! High-Intensity-Interval-Training, or HIIT, is great because you burn more fat doing 5-10 rounds of 30 second sprints and a minute rest, than running at a steady pace for an hour. This applies to any form of cardio like cycling, swimming and even jumping jacks so you can go with whatever suits you best.
- Don’t Skip - Think of skipping a workout like giving away a kidney. “Oh, it can wait until tomorrow.” NO. When you start making excuses it means you’re out of your comfort zone and your brain wants you back into the nice, cozy place you’re used to. Embrace the change! Challenge yourself and block out the negative thoughts. The only day you should “skip” is your rest day. Everyone needs time to rest their muscles so make the most of it because the next day you’re going to hit it hard!
- Build-Up - When you feel you can push yourself harder then it’s time to start increasing your routine. Swim another ten lengths, run another mile or cycle another couple kilometres. Try not to burn yourself out doing this, just like the first point take small steps increasing the intensity. If you do, your the motivation will continue to grow along with higher goals.
- Mix-It-Up - Changing your workout every 6-8 weeks means you’re learning something new and exciting. Having variety in your exercises keeps it fresh and you’re motivated to learn something new. With a change in workout comes new goals and targets to achieve so you’ll never be stuck with something to do.
You could say the suffering I went through during my graduation was the best part about the day, apart from getting a degree I suppose, but it made me realise I wasn’t as skinny as I thought and needed a drastic lifestyle change. If you follow the 5 steps you’ll make exercising a habit. The most important point is to enjoy it. If you get enjoyment from what you’re doing then it will turn into a habit without even realising it. So get out there, blast your favourite workout music into your ears and start hitting goals.