There’s probably been at least a time or two in your life where you’ve said to yourself, “I’m going to start working out.”
You set out with the best of intentions, perhaps head to the gym a time or two, only to have it fall to the wayside because, well, life: It happens.
We have a lot of things that command our attention each day, and it’s easy to let fitness fall to the bottom of the priority list when there’s so much else going on. Unfortunately, exercising once in a while is unlikely to have a lasting effect on weight loss goals* or your overall health. Like everything worth having in life, it has to become a habit.
Research shows it takes about 66 days for something to actually become a habit, so how do you go about it? We put together a step-by-step guide to taking those fitness intentions and making them a regular part of your life.
Step 1: Identify it.
There are many different ways to exercise, and we all have our thing. That’s more than okay. The first step is determining what your “thing” is. Do you like group fitness classes? Does yoga or pilates look like something you’d like to try? Perhaps you’ve always wanted to tackle a 5K or join a walking club. Or maybe you just prefer to go solo at the gym. Put some thought into what sounds most appealing to you, do some research and find a way to try it out.
Step 2: Schedule it.
Once you’ve chosen what you want to try, whether that be one thing or several things, you have to treat it like any other priority in your life. Just like work, a doctor’s appointment, or dinner plans, put it on your planner. Don’t think about it as a choice, something you may or may not have time for that day. Instead, treat it as something you must do, and then schedule it consistently. You might even set yourself reminders to ensure you don’t forget or overbook yourself.
Step 3: Extend it.
Once you’ve built it into your regular routine, start extending each sweat session. If you started out with 20 or 30 minutes routines four days a week, consider adding another 30 minutes or an extra day each week. The more you do it, the easier it will become. You’ll eventually get to a point where you’ll naturally want to increase the intensity to build on your stamina or strength training, so go for it!
Step 4: Support it.
Once exercise is starting to become routine, schedule other wellness activities to support it. For example, time your meals around your fitness routine to ensure you have optimal energy and aren’t too full. You should also plan out your sleep schedule to make sure you’re getting in the recommended amount of time. (Struggle falling or getting to sleep? Check out our 9 Ways to Snooze Better).
Step 5: Celebrate it!
This may be one of the most important — and most neglected — steps to creating a fitness plan. But it really is key! Once you get past that 66-day mark, plan a way to commend your achievement. Buy yourself something new, go on a fun outing, or take a quick weekend vacation. Aim for celebrating in a way that doesn’t involve food so that you don’t erase all your hard work.
Ultimately, steps to creating a foolproof fitness plan revolve around scheduling and treating fitness as a necessity, not a choice. Follow that guidance, and you’ll be on your way to making it a part of your life in no time!
Author: Caitlin H
Diet-to-Go Community Manager
Caitlin is the Diet-to-Go community manager and an avid runner. She is passionate about engaging with others online and maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle. She believes moderation is key, and people will have the most weight loss success if they engage in common-sense healthy eating and fitness.