They say that developing a habit takes 66 consistent consecutive days. In the larger scheme of things, 66 days doesn’t seem like too much compared to 365 days (you can’t forget that extra day every 4 years!). It’s one thing to say doing something for 66 days will create a habit but how do you keep at it for that long?
That is what I wanted to share with you today.
Exercising consistency has always been a challenge for me. During my bachelors and masters, I worked many part-time jobs. I didn’t have a consistent schedule to make plans and set habits. I guess you can say that is partly an excuse too; as a student and a part-timer in the workforce, I probably had more time to exercise than most.
I have used countless excuses and now a few years later, I find myself with many underdeveloped habits. It affects my fitness but also other aspects where better habits would make my life easier and better.
You don’t think much of it until you’ve reached that certain age where the stakes are higher. The lack of better lifestyle habits was a contributing factor in my gestational diabetes diagnosis while I was pregnant with my first child.
As a person of Asian descent, my diet consists of a lot of rice, noodles and other carbohydrate-heavy meals. This isn’t a bad thing but the lack of an active lifestyle and the pregnancy hormones created a muck of my internal system. I had no choice but to start taking insulin. Even a strict diet change and exercise (so much exercise…) wasn’t enough.
The best solution to prevent issues such as this later in life is to have better life habits now. I found 3 steps to help incorporate exercise and a healthy lifestyle into your daily routine.
Step 1: Determine your Why!
I know this sounds corny, but your why is so important.
What is your motivation for your desire for a healthy and active lifestyle or any habit you wish to develop?
Your why is the foundation. Without a strong and clear why, the habit you’re trying to establish will be difficult. Each day you will dread it. Take some time to figure out your why, it will be worth it.
For the longest time, I didn’t have a strong why. I wanted to work out more to lose weight because I wanted to look good. This was a weak why. It didn’t motivate me enough, it wasn’t a strong enough foundation to continue working out.
My endocrinologist mentioned that women who have gestational diabetes have a 50% chance of developing type 2 diabetes in the next 10 years after the birth of their child (that’s a huge percentage!!!!). Since my gestational diabetes diagnosis, my why has changed and I started exercising almost daily. I went for walks or rode my stationary bike daily, for a minimum of 30 minutes, after each meal (since being on medical leave). Incorporating lightweight training 2 -3 times a week also helped. I most definitely did not work out this much before I was pregnant.
My why was to keep my baby healthy and to develop the best exercise habits so that I don’t get diabetes in the future. It was a constant reminder every day. I am establishing the foundation for active living after the baby arrives. I might not workout as often as I am now, but I am laying the foundations for daily active living.
Step 2: Set Goals!
Each motivational speaker, fitness guru, entrepreneur, and life coach I’ve learned from always mention goals.
It is important to set goals, and not just any goals but S.M.A.R.T goals!
I am sure you’ve heard of people talk about S.M.A.R.T goals. If not, I will be going through it in detail.
S.M.A.R.T stands for “Specific”, “Measurable”, “Achievable”, “Realistic” and “Timely”.
Your goals need to be specific!
It is not enough to say “I want to workout 3 times a week”. Break it down: what days will you work out? What time of day? What kind of workouts? Where will you be working out? These are the kind of questions you want to ask yourself when setting your goals.
The more specific you can get the better. Setting specific goals is a lot of work. However, without these kinds of details, it will be so easy to just brush off working out today. It will eventually pile onto tomorrow’s list of to-dos.
Set goals that are measurable meaning quantifiable.
How will you know when you’ve reached your set goal? How can you reach a goal when you have not set the destination of the goal?
It helps when you have goals that you can determine by a numerical value.
A friend of mine wanted to get back in shape after going through a difficult time in her life. She downloaded that app called “Couch to 10K”. My friend planned when, how, where, how long she will run for. She followed the app to the best of her capabilities. Her goal was to run 10K at a consistent pace without stopping. She did not reach this goal within the timeframe of the app, but she did reach it shortly after. After that, she set to run 15K nonstop. The distance was the measurable value that she set to determine if she’s reached it.
Your goals should be achievable. Set goals that you can reach. Don’t set goals that are difficult to achieve or beyond what you’re capable of now. They should be challenging but never unachievable. You know your limits set goals so that you can accomplish them. As you slowly achieve your goals, step by step you can reach those big goals that at first seemed beyond your capabilities.
Setting goals that are realistic go hand in hand with goals being achievable.
Make sure that what you’re trying to do is realistic. When my friend decided to get back in shape using the “Couch to 10K” app it made sense for her to set the goal to run 10K. You see, she was a runner before. She ran track in high school and little in college. If she set a goal such as to compete as a minor league weight lifter it wouldn’t make sense. Weight training was not something she enjoyed or did in the past or even had the background in. It would have been unrealistic and therefore also unachievable.
Setting goals like this set you up for failure and discouragement.
Don’t get me wrong, set BIG goals for yourself. Your big goals are achievable, but you need to set small goals to help you get to the place where your BIG goals are within your reach.
Finally, your goals need to be achieved timely.
Set timeframes for when you will reach these goals you have made for yourself. This last step may seem like it’s minor, but it makes all the difference in the world.
Giving yourself all the time in the world to achieve your goal will never drive you to get there. Any goal can seem realistic when there is no deadline. If there is no deadline nothing is driving you to get there, making the goal likely unachievable.
When I made up my mind to start a blog, I never set a specific timeframe as to when I will get the self-hosting and start creating content. As a result, I put off starting a blog for a year! A year I’ve wasted. A small part of not setting a time to start was that I was afraid. I didn’t want to fail.
Setting a deadline meant having to start and starting meant the possibility of failure. I mean, I didn’t know what I was doing, what to blog about and the technical aspect was really intimidating. It wasn’t until recently when I determined my why, I was able to set a deadline and do it. Yes, you might fail but you will also never succeed if you don’t start.
Set a timeframe for your goals big and small. Let that be motivation to drive you closer to those better habits you want to develop in your life. It helps create that mindset of success.
Step 3: Share your Goals!
They say that a goal or a plan that is written down or shared has a much higher chance of coming to fruition!
Sometimes we don’t share the great plans we have for ourselves or the goals we set. We fear if we share it and fail it reflects poorly on us but the opposite is true! Share with someone you trust.
Have someone keep you accountable and also encourage you through the times when things get hard. Trust me, it will get hard. You will not want to get up and workout sometimes. Something might discourage you and you will want to give up because it’s easier. When you have someone accountable for you are more likely to achieve your goals. They will help you when you backslide.
Also, it is okay to backslide, just pick up where you stopped and move forward!
When I started the BBG (workout plan by Kayla Itines), I didn’t tell anyone about my plan to work out. No matter how determined I was, I always stalled at week 2 of the BBG. After a few days sometimes weeks, I would decide to start again. Sure enough, something would come up and I would stop at week 2 again!
When I shared with my girlfriends that I was doing BBG, I found they were also doing it. We decided to be accountable for each other. Whether it was to workout together or encourage each other throughout the week. While I had this accountability, I ended up stopping at week 6. When I decided to start over again my girlfriends told me to move forward and not backward. So, I picked up where I stopped and kept going forward. When I had the accountability, I was able to make past week 2 and got to week 10! If you’re wondering, didn’t finish because it’s a 12-week program. But the point is that I made it further than I ever did on my own.
So, take some time today, to create those better habits in your life. Determine your why, set S.M.A.R.T goals and share with someone who can help keep you accountable.
Below you will find a download that will help set you in motion to creating a better mindset for making better habits.
It is a S.M.A.R.T goal page, print it out fill it out in detail and start creating those better habits, whether it’s in your work, studies, home or fitness.
One final thing, give yourself some grace, you are a working progress like everyone else.