If you’re like millions of Americans, then you have strong intentions of eating healthy, avoiding sweets and getting consistent exercise. But then, somehow, competing priorities take over and veer us off course. Why is it so easy to re-neg on our promises to ourselves?
Perhaps you might also struggle to find the time for the new habits you’ve identified. Whether it’s a new job with high demands, or a whirling family life and schedule, it’s easy to let all of the tasks and responsibilities of the day take over and before you know it, it’s bedtime! What happened to the plan to work out?
Staying consistent and clear on our goals is not an easy task. As a physician and a certified health coach, I’ve studied the subject of human habit formation and I find it fascinating to observe how the mind can want one thing and then behave the complete opposite. It’s like one minute I’m saying to myself, I’m going to work out 30 minutes a day! and the next minute, I’m making time for every other priority but exercise.
Here are a few tips to establish a consistent routine and keep it going:
- Make it easy to follow through. When you think about your new habit or intention, think about scheduling it when you are most likely to follow through. You know yourself. Make it as easy as possible. Don’t schedule workouts at 5am if you are not a morning person. When do you have the most energy and where does it fit in with the busyness of the day? Be sure to set yourself up for success.
- Make it fun. If you hate certain kinds of exercise, then you won’t enjoy doing it and your brain will come up with every excuse not to follow through on that plan. Think outside the box. What activities do you love? What was fun when you were a kid? What types of movement and activity make you feel really good? Those are the things to build in to your routine. It doesn’t have to be a stereotypical gym workout.
- Start small! When you have a busy schedule and you already struggle to fit in exercise, set your goals small. We’re talking baby steps. 10 minutes is a good start. It’s a lot easier to talk yourself out of a 30 or 45 minute workout than a 10 minute workout. Most of us can spare 10-15 minutes. Start there, feel accomplished when you are consistently following through, and build up from there.
If you’d like more tips on healthy living topics, check out my podcast, Doctoring Differently.
For those of you wanting that extra support during the holidays, check out my coaching page. I’m running a 20% off promotion on my group coaching program between now and Thanksgiving. Use the code: SPECIAL20. If you are a member of Inspire Family Medicine, you get 50% off the list price!