6 steps to take to create a new habit
I decided I wanted to start exercising again. I have been either in or out of regular exercise my whole life. I honestly have not been routinely exercising for a few years now. I have a long list of reasons I stopped exercising, which are neither unique nor interesting. Anyway, I am writing this because I decided to try to exercise for 100 consecutive days to get myself back on track and become a “person who exercises.” My approach this time around, however, is drastically different than my previous attempts, and I love it so far.
I will share with you the shifts I had to make in my thinking to make this process fun and easy (ish)
- You have to decide to do it for yourself and not for anyone else. You will feel amazing to be selfish for once. The thoughts like “I know it is good for me and I should exercise” or “I gained weight, and I am hating myself right now” may motivate you for the first few trips to the gym, but this mean self-talk makes going to the gym so much harder. It is like having a huge mental blob that makes putting on your sneakers feel like moving through quicksand. Instead, see if you can intentionally go each day with the energy of loving care. These are the thoughts that I am trying to use and feel free to use them too: “I feel good in my body when I move it,” “I am taking care of the machine (AKA my body),” and “This is me living my spa life.”
- Decide to become a person who exercises. Usually, we set goals to get to a particular destination. Rather than losing weight or having a “hot body,” setting the goal of becoming a person who creates new habits, in some way feels much better. This way, you do not have to feel “motivated” to participate in the new habit. The difference is subtle, but typically our motivation is that we think we will feel differently about ourselves once we reach a specific goal. The truth is that however we feel about ourselves along the journey is how we will think of ourselves once we arrive. I hated and loved myself for various reasons when I was 5 pounds heavier or 5 pounds lighter in either direction. This journey of caring for myself from day 1 until day 100, is incredibly easier.
- Set the bar low. Most of us have a perfectionist mindset and are perhaps drawn to BIG goals and ideas. You want to run that 6-minute mile, decide to train to run a marathon, or do yoga five days a week. But this is too big of a shift if you haven’t exercised since 2019. Your brain will give up when you realize that you are short of breath just climbing the stairs to the yoga room. Then you will overdo it, get sore, and give up. Instead, try to do something super easy, but stay consistent. You are not going to be able to run a 5K on day one or be able to do a full back bend on the yoga mat. It is going to take time. Be patient. Try putting on your sneakers and walking for 5 minutes. You can build up gradually from there. I decided that if I put on sneakers and sweated, it counted. I aim for 15 minutes per day.
- Create the space you need. This is so important for every new habit. You have to schedule it! It won’t get done if you do not create the time to do it. And again, make it easy. If you are not a morning person, do not sign up for the 5 am spin class! You will not make it. Or you will have to create a second habit of waking up early. Look at your schedule and write in the time when you are going to exercise, and do your best to keep it.
- Track your progress. Writing it down directs your brain to pay attention to it, and what gets measured is done. This also creates a reward system. Our brains love to see progress.
- Be willing to let it be hard some days. Our brains hate to change. There will be days when you do not want to participate in your new habit. There will be days when looking in the mirror feels like torture. There will be super busy days, and you want to eat popcorn and watch Netflix instead. When this happens, you can be ready for it. Allow your brain to tell you these things, but not make it mean anything, you don’t have to listen to that voice, and you don’t have to either push these thoughts away or shame yourself for thinking these things. All thoughts and feelings are temporary. Yes, you can have all these thoughts and still do your 15 minutes of exercise anyway. 🙂
Are you considering hypnotherapy and life coaching to help you feel better? Discover more about my new 100 Days to Total Transformation program, where we re-wire your brain into a more loving, resilient, and empowered mindset. Click here to schedule a free discovery call.