We've all been there, at the start of a new diet or fitness regime - you're all fired up and raring to go with loads of motivation to make amazing changes! You start well, it lasts a week or two, if you're lucky, and then you fall off the wagon and something derails you - work, family, illness.... you fall back into your old habits. What then? It's a major struggle to get back on track and you think why bother? I've undone all my good work so may as well go back to my old ways again... And the cycle repeats itself. You end up fed up, miserable and frustrated with yourself. It's a very common pattern. In the fitness world you will often hear people talking about "motivation", and a very frequent complaint from my clients is they have no motivation. No motivation to exercise, no motivation to eat well. And any motivation they do find is short-lived.
What if I told you that I could teach you about something far more powerful than motivation to help you make changes, that had a much higher chance of success? Would you be in?? If yes, read on for more....
Each day in our lives we have a routine - you will have a morning routine, a bedtime routine, work routine etc. Routine's are important, they are what helps us make sense of our day and help us plan ahead. If we didn't have them we would be living our lives in chaos! These routines are made up of individual habits - the way you make your morning coffee or wash your face is probably the same each day. You know just the way you like it! If one of these habits doesn't happen it can really mess up your routine and possibly your whole day!
It has probably taken you a long time to form these habits, although you don't necessarily notice it as such. And as a result they are difficult to break. Some of us get into eating particular things out of habit - and sometimes these are not necessarily the things we want to be eating or drinking either. But a habit, once established, is a powerful thing to break. That glass of wine or two at the end of the day, or the bar of chocolate at 4pm just to get you through the last hour at work....
Psychologists who study habits have split the stages of a habit into three...
For example, answering a phone call…
If the reward is positive, then you'll want to repeat the routine again the next time the reminder happens. Repeat the same action enough times and it becomes a habit. Every habit follows this basic 3–step structure. So if habits are more powerful than motivation then wouldn't it be a great idea to start forming new, healthy habits to make the changes you want to make rather than just relying upon your motivation? That way, once established, these habits would be much harder to break.
Habits are certainly where it's at in the fitness world, and I spend a lot of time encouraging my clients to think about forming new, healthy habits as this is what will help them make some long-term sustainable healthy habits and change their lifestyles for the better. Most of us know where we're going wrong, and for most of us it's bad habits that are the culprit. The secret to your success is usually found in your daily routine. I use a habit-tracking fitness app with my clients and they check-in each day to confirm if they have kept to their new habit, so I can track their progress. It's very effective and a good Personal Trainer will help you with that. For some of them it's simple things like "drink more water" or "take 5000 steps a day". We try and work on forming one or two new habits at once, as that makes it much easier than tackling lots of bad habits at the same time.
Here's a few tips to help you form some new habits of your own.
1. Start small - don't try and change all of your habits at once! Tackle one or two at a time and once you've nailed those move on to the next ones. Bear in mind it will likely take you a few weeks to establish a new habit if you're doing it regularly
2. Chose a habit that's incredibly easy and achievable to start with, that way you will meet your goal and be more encouraged to keep going
3. Set a reminder for your habit and chose a reminder that works for you - you may find that linking it to another well-established habit helps - for example, if your goal is to drink more water each day then have a glass of water after every time you visit the toilet - simple!
4. Make it achievable - start with one or two really simple ones and once you've got those sorted that will help give you the confidence to tackle bigger ones
5. Setting up a visible reminder to help you - make it as easy as possible for yourself
6. Try recruiting a friend or family member as a "buddy" to help
Hope you found the tips useful and good luck with changing your habits! For more help please don't hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you've found this helpful please share with your friends and feel free to comment below!
Exercise For Mum's was created by PT mum Susan Flintoff. Susan is a busy working mum of two who specialises in helping other busy mum's fit health and fitness back into their lives, and hopes to inspire them to be the best mum they can be!!