21 Days to Healthier Habits
I often have personal training clients tell me they just haven’t been able to stick with an exercise program. However, I often find they only gave it a week or two. Yet, researchers tell us it takes at least 21 days (or approximately 3 weeks) for an activity to become habit. This is not necessarily 21 days from when you started, but rather the 21 days that you actually performed the activity.
In my last three decades as an athlete, there have been injuries and time off. As I have grown older and become more involved with family and work, there have been times when I just fell out of my exercise routine altogether. What I can tell you is this: even with decent genetics and many athletic years under my belt, beginning again is always tough. It is tough mentally to stay motivated. It is, without a doubt, a physical challenge to fight thru the soreness and weakness of starting from scratch. However, thru many trials, I know that somewhere around three weeks after starting, I will be back in the exercise habit. Yes, I have to continue to claw my way back to where I left off, but every day I make it to the gym, it feels more and more like the place I’m supposed to be.
My advice is to commit to change and give yourself time to succeed.
As always, it is easier said than done. The exercise commitment is a lonely road, but here are a few steps you can take to make your quest a bit easier.
Very few people in this world would have reached success at anything without the help of others along the way. If you are able, find a partner willing to commit to change, and then hold each other accountable. Be honest with each other about nutrition and exercise.
Another option is to consult with a highly qualified personal trainer. You don’t have to become a client for life, but a health & fitness expert and their initial planning and instruction can be invaluable to your success. Most importantly, a professional coach can help to keep you safe and give you proven advice.
Let’s say, for whatever reason, you are unable to find a training partner or utilize the services of a trainer. I encourage you to do as much research as possible. Plan, plan, and plan some more.
We discuss goals quite often, but they must be an integral part of your plan. Start slowly with small realistic goals that you can reach in a short period of time. It is important to have larger, long-term goals as part of your development plan, but these should not be the emphasis during your initial three week habit forming period.
It can also help to have a reward system for achieving your goals. A brief warning as to rewards: if your goal is cutting fat, try to avoid a food reward. Instead, choose something unrelated to your struggle. For instance, “If I make it to the gym five days this week, I’m going to get a massage.”
In addition, I encourage you to post your goals everywhere. It is much harder to give in to the temptation of laziness or hunger when your goals are looking back at you.
You can get to where you want to be. Make a plan, utilize all the tools available to you, and most importantly, be consistent. We wouldn’t find much success at anything in life if we only worked at that area a couple times per week.
As always, don’t hesitate to reach out with questions 🙂