9 Psychological Tricks to Develop a Fitness Habit
Connecting exercise to a solid event that you know will happen is a great way to stay consistent. I know that I will leave work at 5 every weekday – instead of going home, I bring my workout clothes with me and go straight to the gym.
This chaining is also why it can be hard to work out if there’s no cue.
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Precommitments are actions that get you invested in going to the gym. If you’ve committed to going with a partner, you’re hardly going to leave them hanging.
Similarly, bringing clothes with you to work, packing your gym bag in advance, or laying out your workout clothes before bed for a morning workout are tricks that make it easier to stay consistent.
In order to be effective, a reward needs to occur frequently and immediately after a workout.
Plus, it needs to be associated with going to the gym – the reward doesn’t mean much if you can have it whenever you want.
Reducing barriers could mean switching to a gym that’s closer to your house, having a set program so that you’re never wondering what you should be doing, or preparing your gym bag in advance (also a precommitment).
Reducing barriers to activities you want to do makes you more likely to follow through.
A good goal is specific, realistic, and personally important.
Too many people say they work out to “lose weight” or “be healthy,” but you can have more success by getting specific. Why will losing weight improve your life, personally?
It might give you more confidence or have some other positive outcome. The important part is that you understand how your goal would impact you.
When you set a 3-month goal, check in after one month to see how you’re doing. If you haven’t made progress or your goal progress is too slow, don’t worry about it!
A checkpoint is designed to correct your mistakes and get back on track. That way you don’t wind up at your deadline and realize you haven’t made any progress.
When we set goals, we often become overly optimistic. It makes us ignore the hard parts and get frustrated when we encounter the challenges that any goal will have.
Figure out what the roadblocks will be in advance. Spend 5 minutes writing down all the potential challenges you can face on the path to success.
You have a list of challenges that you will probably encounter, so now all you have to do is solve them.
Be specific here too. “Having low energy” is not a specific enough roadblock. Something like “I’m tired when I get home from work and just want to collapse and watch Netflix” is much better. When you get specific, it becomes a lot easier to find solutions.
Once you have a plan in place for actually getting to a workout, make a plan for what you will do and when.
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As you’re determining the habits or resolutions you’re trying to set, make the habit part of a bigger cause that’s worth the struggle.
You’re not just going to the gym, you’re building a new body that you’re not ashamed of so you can start dating again.
There are 3 parts to a good or bad habit: Cue (what triggers the action), Routine (the action itself), Reward (the positive result because of the action).You have trained your brain to take a cue (you see a doughnut), anticipate a reward (a sugar high), and make the behavior automatic (nom that donut).
Compare that to a cue (you see your running shoes), anticipate a reward (a runner’s high), and make the behavior automatic (go for a run!).
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