7 Strategies you need to form a habit that sticks

Today's new behavior is the beginning of tomorrow's new habit. Did you know that, on average, it takes 66 days* to form a habit? Or, and perhaps even scarier, it only takes one week to break a habit? I find that slightly terrifying because many of us are okay with taking a break from our exercise routine. Of course, sometimes a break is both needed and necessary, but it’s easy to find one day turning into two days, three, four, until before you know it two weeks has slipped by. Eek! The more time away from your routine, the harder it is to get back into it. So what strategies can you use to form an exercise habit that sticks? I’m so glad you asked! 😉

7 Strategies you need to form a habit that sticks:

  1. Modify one behavior at a time. Probably the number one reason people fail at forming a new habit is because they try and change too many things at once. We see this most often with New Year’s Resolutions when people pledge to eat healthier, exercise more, eat out less, lose weight, lift weights, and on and on. In fact, trying to form even two habits concurrently drops your success rate to just 20%. Much of this also has to do with willpower. See more about willpower here.
  2. Have a measurable goal. The clearer and more defined you make your goal, the more likely you are to achieve it. “I want to exercise more,” is not a measurable goal. “I want to exercise for 30 minutes, five times a week” is a clearly defined and measurable goal. You can also use distance (miles, kilometers) as a way to define your goal. For example, “I want to ride 100 miles weekly, averaging 35 miles a ride” or, “I want to run 5 miles daily, three days a week.”
  3. Acknowledge and embrace that this is a process. I love this piece of advice. A habit isn’t something that you do for a certain amount of time and then stop. A habit is something you do continuously—that’s why it’s called a habit! The same study that found it takes on average 66 days to form a habit also found that habit formation is dependent on the behavior, the person, and the circumstance. Meaning that it can take as little as 18 days or as much as 254 days to actually form a new behavior.
  4. Keep track along the way. This is a must. To see how far you have come, you have to track your progress. Tracking your progress is also an excellent motivator (it also adds a bit of a guilt factor that will hold you accountable). I keep a fitness journal that I log all of my workouts in. It is a great way to see if I am meeting my daily/weekly goals and any holes or patterns that may occur that I need to address. I also write how I felt during that workout, draw—if I feel in the mood to be creative—or write motivational quotes.
  5. Go public! For some, like myself, this is probably the hardest step. I am actually a very private person and internalize most things. BUT, sharing your goals with others has been proven time and again that it will keep you accountable and on track to forming a habit! So, feel free to share your goals in the comments below. 😊
  6. Plan for challenges that may occur. Another key to successfully forming a habit is to have an action plan in place for when challenges arise. For instance, you may have a day when you have zero motivation to get your workout in. However, in order to form your new habit and reach your goal of exercising for 30 minutes, you need to workout. Maybe to get yourself motivated—your action plan that you created—you look at your journal of motivational quotes and images to get you in the mood. The more challenges you foresee occurring and the more action plans you create from the beginning, the more successful you will be.
  7. Allow yourself to be okay with a missed day or a set back. Don’t let one missed day steer you completely off course of creating a new habit. We all slip-up. The best thing you can do is let it go, refocus, and make tomorrow better. The more you get bogged down in self-blame, the further you will be from creating your habit and reaching your goals.

Don’t be daunted by the fact that forming a habit takes time. Instead, embrace the fact that it does! You will make mistakes and slip-up along the way, but that’s okay and perfectly normal. Make tweaks as you go and refocus as needed. Remember, the only way to form a habit isn’t to think about how long it will take you, but just to start, right now, day one. As James Clear said so perfectly, “The only way to get to Day 500 is to start with Day 1.” 💜

 

*In a study conducted by Phillippa Lally and her research team and published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, they found that on average it takes 66 days before a new behavior becomes automatic—aka a habit. Depending on the behavior, the person, and the circumstances, forming a new behavior could take as little as 18 days or as much as 254 days and anywhere in-between.

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Monday Motivation: Push harder

That moment when your legs burned and you pushed harder.You know that moment when your mind is either silent with determination or yelling loudly at your critics as you push harder? That is when your true athlete within—your heart, soul, and determination—shine through. It’s that moment when you ignore the screaming of your legs and you PUSH HARDER. You ignore the fire in your arms and you KEEP GOING. You are showing YOURSELF that you are determined, that NOTHING will stop you.

Whatever your sport, in that moment when you stop listening to the voice in your head telling you to give up and instead push through, that is the exact moment when you start believing in YOU.

Someone already believes in you, but once you start believing, that’s when you become unstoppable. Silence the voice that tells you ‘you can’t’ and show yourself just how much YOU CAN. 💜

Foam rolling: What are you missing?

Foam rollerImage credit: Pilot Fitness

Have you ever been sore after a hard workout, long run or bike ride? What if you could limit that soreness and release the tightness you feel in your muscles in the days that follow? With a foam roller, you can! It’s like getting a deep tissue massage, without the hefty price tag. In fact, many foam rollers are less than $35 (see below for my foam roller recommendation!).

Foam rolling, technically referred to as “self-myofascial release,” has many benefits. The greatest of which comes from you being in control. You can find and work every sore muscle you have by applying as much or as little pressure you need on a precise area—something another person just can’t do.

Here’s more of what you’re missing by not foam rolling:

  1. Less muscle tension. Especially after a hard workout. Amen!
  2. Faster recovery time. Foam rolling helps with muscle repair so you can recover faster and get back to your workout (aka not be as sore the next day!).
  3. Less injuries. Just as proper stretching, warming up and cooling down help to prevent injuries, adding foam rolling into your routine will also help. This is because it will increase blood flow and circulation.
  4. Increased flexibility and range of motion. Foam rolling can help stretch and lengthen your muscles, which also means you’ll have a more effective workout.
  5. Bonus: Reduced cellulite. With its ability to increase and improve blood flow, foam rolling may also help in reducing the appearance of cellulite. I think most of us can get excited about that!

When should you foam roll? Use your foam roller after an intense workout, long run, bike ride or swim session. If you’re feeling extra sore before your next workout, roll for a few minutes before you start. I also use mine on rest days to help with muscle recovery.

What can you foam roll? The short answer: you can foam roll any muscle. However, NEVER roll a joint or bone and AVOID rolling your lower back and abdomen. I typically only use mine on my leg muscles (IT band, quads, hamstrings, etc.). Joe, my husband, frequently foam rolls his upper back.

What foam roller should I buy? There are various types of foam rollers on the market, all of which effectively stretch out muscles in a similar manner. Keep in mind, the denser the roller or the deeper its ridges, the more intense the stretch. For a dense roller that has moderate ridges with a price tag of only $32, plus, a FREE eBook on how to properly use it, I suggest the Kayla Itsines Foam Roller. Of course, there are also less expensive foam rollers (and much more expensive too), but I highly suggest Kayla’s because of the free eBook that will show you the proper way to use it. Plus, if you love pink as much as I do, you’ll love this foam roller even more! 💜

Shout-out and thank you to Pilot Fitness for allowing me to use their image as the cover image for this blog post! Pilot Fitness is a website and blog by husband and wife duo, Joshua and Lauren Dils. I just discovered their site and can’t wait to explore it further! Check it out here.

Important note: You should always discuss more than mild muscle discomfort with your doctor or other health professional. Even mild, persistent pain, should be discussed with your doctor. You only get one body, so take good care of it and listen to what it is trying to tell you!

Monday Motivation: Turn your excuse into your challenge

Mountain biking down hill descending fast on bicycle. View fromToo cold.
Too tired.
Too rainy.
Too hot.
Too windy.
Not enough time.
Not enough motivation.

Whatever your excuse is for not working out, turn it around and make it your challenge. Too windy to get your bike ride in? No way. The wind is a great way to challenge yourself to see how fast you can go and how hard you can push yourself against that wind. Not enough time? Never. Challenge yourself for 7 minutes of HIIT. Who doesn’t have 7 minutes?

The only way to truly become better, in fitness and as an individual, is to embrace whatever it is before you, whatever excuse you have, and challenge yourself.

Happy challenging and happy Monday! 💜

Monday Motivation: Believe in YOU

Believe in yourself and all that you are. Know that there is something inside you that is greater than any obstacle.Go, look in the mirror.

See how beautiful you are, inside and out?
See how fierce those eyes of determination are?
See how strong you have become?

Focus on five things you LOVE about yourself. Focus on positives only. Tell yourself that you deserve all that you are working towards, all the goals and dreams that you are pushing yourself day after day to reach.

Remember that it’s okay to focus on yourself. Allow yourself to chase your dreams today and every day, because you deserve it. 💜