It's about setting measurable goals and restarting even when you fail.
Experts have identified that it takes anywhere from a few weeks to several months to create a new habit. Most agree that it takes at least two months to create new fitness habits.
Since fitness includes proper nutrition, physical activity, and sufficient rest, there is a wide variety of new habits for you to consider. Here are a few tips to help get you started in creating healthy fitness habits.
Identify What’s Important
No one can do it all, so save yourself some stress and disappointment by attempting just that. Visit with your doctor or personal trainer to identify just one habit to create. He or she will assess your overall health and prioritize what needs the most attention. It might be as simple as adding some weight-bearing exercises, taking a walk most days of the week, or drinking more water.
Take time to reflect on what is important to you. While your doctor or personal trainer can help you identify a good new habit to benefit you physically, be sure to listen to your own thoughts and feelings. How can you ensure you receive sufficient rest? Are there self-care habits you can implement that would bring you joy? What physical goals would you like to achieve … and why?
Invite a Friend
Exercise is so much more fun with a friend. You can chat while working out or cooling down. Laugh as you make mistakes, and encourage each other to keep going. Enjoy getting to know each other better at the gym or on the trail.
And this friend will help keep you accountable. When you’re meeting someone else to go for a run or do a round of cross-training, you’re more likely to show up. You don’t want to stand up to your friend or let them down.
Your friend could also be a source of healthy competition. The last push is that much more intense when competing against another. You naturally push yourself to complete more reps when a friend is standing by spotting you.
Set a Plan of Measurable Goals
How will you know when you’ve succeeded? Setting goals that are measurable provide a quantitative way to assess your progress. For example, “eating more green leafy vegetables” isn’t a measurable goal. There’s no way to look back on your week to see if you reached this goal. Instead, set a goal of “eating green leafy vegetables four times a week.” This way, you can literally count the times you ate green leafy vegetables until you reach your goal for the week. Measurable goals can also be based on weight, the number of repetitions, speed, or mileage.
Grab a calendar and plan incremental workouts and activities to help you create new habits. Consider your life’s schedule and what is attainable and sustainable. What time of day best fits into your schedule and is optimal for your overall mindset? How much time do you need to reach your fitness goals?
Plan for rest. Rest is such an important fitness component, and your doctor or physical trainer will help you identify the amount and frequency.
Give Yourself Time and Be Flexible
It takes an average of two months to create a new fitness habit, so it won’t happen overnight. You can expect your new habit to take time to implement.
Stick to your plan daily. Periodically, possibly once-a-week, assess your progress and how your plan is working for you. Are you reaching your goals? Does this new routine fit into your life as you had expected? What needs to be adjusted to ensure you can continue implementing this new habit?
Be open to making changes along the way. If you find that working out over lunch during the workday isn’t ideal, find another time of the day to try. Consider indoor options for your workout when the weather is not cooperating.
Create a visual representation for you to easily see progress. Consider purchasing an annual wall calendar on which you can mark a big “X” on each day you completed your fitness plan. And this includes resting on the days intended for rest.
Give yourself rewards throughout the week. Consider a lower-calorie treat or a night out at the movies to enjoy each week you completed your fitness plan.
Keep your fitness friend updated. Celebrate each other’s progress and milestones. Even if a specific goal wasn’t reached, find a way to celebrate fitness progress such as endurance, speed, or weight-bearing repetitions.
Give yourself the gift of health as you create new fitness habits. Each day, each rep, and each mile are all steps in the right direction.