Starting a fitness program isn’t difficult. What does become hard is maintaining the consistency.
You know the story; you start out with all the energy and enthusiasm in the world but before you know it, things get in the way or you lose momentum because the results didn’t come as quickly as you had hoped.
With this in mind, here is a list of things you can do that can help make your fitness goals become a reality by making exercise a habit.
Start small and progress later
This could be the most useful suggestion of all, and we have a lot to say on this matter.
When you start exercising, always start with lots of energy, enthusiasm, and ambition; you always think you can do more than you actually can. However, doing too much, in the beginning, leads to burnout, which leads to quitting your habit.
When you first try to make exercise a daily habit, chances are, your body won’t be used to that kind of stress.
To overcome this, try and do between 20-30 minutes of exercise at the beginning. If it ends up being 15 minutes, that’s ok too. All that matters at the start are getting yourself into the routine of working out on a regular basis. Once you have got that, then you can go on and start to increase the time and intensity.
Once it begins to feel way too easy, you can start increasing the length of your workouts, to 30 and then 40 minutes, and eventually up to an hour. Once you do that, you can gradually increase the intensity — running faster or harder, for example. Try not to increase both distance and intensity at the same time.
Make it a priority in your day
If you plan on sticking to a fitness program, it must be non-negotiable – you must get into the mindset that you MUST do exercise.
It doesn’t matter if things get in the way, you adjust your schedule so you can get the time in. If that means going home that little bit earlier or you have to wake up an hour earlier than normal, make it happen.
There are many different types of exercising that you don’t have to go to the gym to make fitness a habit. If you prefer your own home or the good outdoors, make the most of what you enjoy.
If the exercise is fun, you’ll look forward to doing it. That’s why, in this beginning stage of getting the new habit, do your favourite things.
Having a variety of activities such as weight lifting, walking, running, tennis, cycling, aerobics classes will ensure that you can do something regardless of the weather or time of day.
Of course, the more exercises you do, the more equipment you may need. Make sure you are equipped with the best gear and accessories, such as training wear from Ghost Fitness.
Recognise your triggers
Whether you are trying to change an old habit, stop an unhealthy habit, or begin a healthy habit, it starts with the first step in the process: the cue. You need to change the way your body has adapted to these bad habits.
For example, if it gets to around 3 pm and you always get hungry, you may have a packet of crisps. Yeah, you may feel great at the time but, on a daily basis, you are destroying your gains.
Instead, replace this snack with a healthier alternative, such as a handful of nuts or a premier formulas supplement.
When identifying bad habits to avoid, it starts by becoming aware of the cue that sets the habit in motion. Simply being aware of the cue is a great start to breaking the cycle. The most common cues include what you do when you’re bored and the first thing you do when you get home from work.
Once you have identified these cues, you can start to correct them, retrain your mind and unlearn those bad habits.
Exercise when you feel ‘too tired’
This is a reason that is said way too often and become a way to lose consistency and prevent you from hitting your fitness goals. You may have had a long day at work but what you don’t know is that exercising will make you feel so much better.
This is because you start to breathe deeply, and your body makes better use of the oxygen exchange. You’ll get an exercise-induced euphoria during the activity and for some time after.
From here, don’t skip a day either. Consistency is key, so try not to skip a single day. If you do, don’t beat yourself up, don’t judge, don’t feel bad — everyone messes up sometimes, and habit formation is a skill that requires practice.
Have a rest day
Although we have just said you should exercise when you feel too tired, it is still important to take a day off or so to let your body recover.
Rest is just as important for fitness as the working out itself. If you’re taking it easy, and only doing 20 minutes, you should be OK without rest days. But it’s still good to have one day of rest, where you’re not doing the same exercises as the other six days.
You don’t want to skip the day completely, because then you’re not being consistent with your habit. That’s why I do one day of strength training, where I don’t use the same muscles as swimming, biking and running.
If you need more rest, you could just do 20 minutes of walking, or even just a session of meditation. The key is to do something every day, preferably something that gets you moving (meditation isn’t the best example, but at least you’d be doing something) and keeps your habit formation going.