Summertime is my favorite season from hiking in the woods, relaxing by the pool & socializing on the patio with friends and family - it’s all pretty great.
The unfortunate downside is that our active routines quickly goes out the window. So that’s why September is all about getting back in the groove and for many that’s easier said than done. Kids are just getting back to school, the days are getting shorter, and after a couple months of not doing much, it can be a little harder picking up where you left off – especially when it comes to exercising.
It’s like Newton said, "objects in motion, stay in motion". Once you’ve stopped, it can be hard to regain lost momentum.
With that in mind, here are some tips that will help you overcome the most common challenges and increase your chances of getting back into an active routine.
1. RENEW YOUR COMMITMENT
To make a change stick, you have to fully commit. You can’t just want to start exercising again without a plan. Write down in specific detail, how your goal will be achieved. How will you know you're making progress? Why is it important for you to achieve this goal? What are you willing to commit to in order to achieve it? Set milestone markers along the way to measure your progress.
2. START SUPER TINY
Starting small sets you up for success. It makes it easy. It makes you feel good and gives you something to celebrate, helping to create a positive feedback loop.
Celebrate your win and when then you do, you feel even better. And the cycle repeats. And remember that setbacks don't make you a failure. The key here is making it really, really tiny. So tiny that you’d never want to skip it. So tiny that you’d be embarrassed not to complete it. Think 2 pushups, a five-minute walk, or just going outside.
That’s all it takes to start getting into a good cycle, then a good rhythm, and before you know it, an active routine and it becomes a habit.
3. TINY, BUT FREQUENT
Quick and easy is good, but you also want to aim for often because half the decisions we make every day are out of habit. So, the key is making one (or a few) of those daily habits more active. Think of things like taking the stairs instead of the escalator, or stretching for a few minutes when you wake up, or doing ten squats while you’re waiting for your coffee to brew.
Tiny, but frequent. When you’re talking about exercising, the magic number seems to be at least 3 times a week.
4. HAVE A TRIGGER
Habits are easier to form if they take place immediately after something you already do. That’s why sneaking in some light activity as soon as you wake up, or after you brush your teeth, works well. You’re less likely to forget, or make an excuse, because you have a reliable trigger.
Some other good ones are right before or right after you eat lunch, as soon as you get to work or right when you get home (if you work pretty regular hours), or before you go to sleep. Anything that you do consistently at about the same time every day can work.
5. DON’T RELY ON MOTIVATION
Finally, one of the biggest myths about forming a new habit is that it takes a huge amount of motivation.
This myth is a problem because, as I’m sure you’re aware, motivation comes and goes. You might be pumped about getting active right now, but what about next week? What about when you’re all snuggled in your sofa after dinner?
The solution? Stop relying on motivation alone. You’re not always going to feel motivated and that’s okay. That’s why focusing on forming a habit is so important. Because once it becomes a habit, once it becomes a normal part of your routine, you won’t need motivation. You’ll just do it because it’s what you do.
We’ve covered the five big ones, but there’s plenty of other smaller things you can do to get on track, like:
Make your goals measurable so you can identify exactly what it is you will see, hear and feel when
you reach your goal. Being happier is not evidence; not smoking anymore because you adhere to
a healthy lifestyle where you eat vegetables twice a day and fat only once a week, is.
Measurable goals can go a long way in refining what exactly it is that you want, too. Defining the
physical manifestations of your goal or objective makes it clearer, and easier to reach. Built in
criteria to measure yourself against. How do you know you’ve reached your goal? I want to
make more money….by how much more? I want to exercise more…I will go to class 3 times
a week. You need to measure yourself to the goal. An objective target allows you to set
markers and milestones along the way so you can chart your progress.
We experience the strongest positive emotion when we make progress on our difficult goals