Updated: Aug 11, 2020
It’s not too difficult to eat perfectly clean for one week. Not too much to ask to workout 4 times in a row. We all know that real progress with anything comes with consistent, long-term effort. You won’t get a promotion just by doing excellent work for a month. It takes a long period of sustained output and dedication.
Your health and wellness if no different. That’s obviously the struggle. How can someone make something that’s inherently difficult for them, a natural occurrence? The word “habit” can be a little dangerous because people say if you do something for “x” amount of days, then it automatically becomes a life-long habit. That’s just not true. Plenty of people have worked out for months in a row, to only stop after they reached a certain goal.
The goal should be to just make the things you want to do regularly simply a part of your everyday life. As routinely as brushing your teeth and taking a shower (hopefully), should be your mindfulness of your body and how you’re treating it. Do you have to workout 7 times a week? No. Eat only rice cakes and spinach? Of course not. Whatever that mindfulness means to you, the goal is to make it consistent so that you can see the progress you want to.
Okay, so how? How does one do this? Apologies upfront. There is no magic formula. Drinking kombucha twice won’t turn you into the Hulk.
Step one is just being really honest with yourself. What is the main thing holding you back? Is it working out, or nutrition? If it’s both, that’s okay. Pick whichever one you have less opposition to and start there. If you don’t mind working out, but struggle with consistent healthy eating, then nail down a reliable workout plan and stick to it for a couple months. If you hate working out, but eating well isn’t an issue, then eat relatively clean for a couple months and don’t worry about the training aspect.
During those two months, only focus on one of those two aspects. Not saying to never workout that month, or eat fast food every meal. Just put all your energy and focus into one of those two arenas, working out or eating clean. Humans tend to do better when not multitasking. Put all your efforts into one aspect at a time, nail it down, then move on.
Okay. It’s been a few months and you’ve nailed down one of those two aspects. You have a nice workout routine that you enjoy going on, or you have been eating well and are feeling pretty good. Now comes the harder part. The half you really struggle with. The good news is you’ve already knocked out half the battle. Now that the easy half comes naturally, you can really focus on the other.
Let’s say you hate working out. Well why is that? Is it waking up earlier? Tired after work? Hate running? Hate group classes? Then don’t do those things! Hate it all? Well, tough love time. To a degree, you have to suck it up. Basically just pick what you’re least opposed to. Pick what’s the most likely to happen. If you work late consistently, don’t plan to workout afterwards. If you hate running, don’t tell yourself you’ll knock out 3 miles tomorrow morning.
Start slow, start simple, and just do it. Just bite the bullet and do it consistently for a couple months. Once a week, three times, five times, it doesn’t matter. Create momentum by being steady with it. Remember the goal isn’t to create a habit. The goal is for you to realize it's Tuesday at 6 AM and that’s when you do a kickboxing class. It should become as innate as anything else is.
Let’s say you have trouble with eating healthy, nourishing foods. Everyone has different struggles. For some it’s eating less of the “bad” stuff. For others it's eating more of the “good” stuff. Maybe a combination. Again, don’t try to change it all at once. Be strict but honest with yourself. Goal for one month can be no snacks at the office. Next month can be to have a certain amount of protein a day. One aspect, one goal at time. Once one becomes regular, then attack the next.
FALLING OFF THE “WAGON”
You went on vacation. You got sick. Family emergency. Life happens. You get off track. That’s perfectly okay and normal. Just don’t use them as reasons to derail once those things subside. Being off track for a couple weeks won’t undo all your hard work. What will undo it is accepting that since you had a few rough weeks, that you might as well stop all together.
Remember, the idea is to make all this behavior as natural as anything else you do routinely is. Time is limited. We all know that. You can do what you make time for. What becomes routine is what you make time for. Prioritize certain things, to whatever degree, and they will become just what you do. No tricks. No magic 21 days to become a habit. It’s just what you do now.