Turning a resolution into a habit takes time. Often it is difficult to last out the process. Luckily, there are strategies to help us all go the distance.
Phone a friend – Regis is right, sometimes we need help to get to the next level. Feel like skipping your workout? Dial a friend who will urge you to go, drag you kicking and screaming or maybe even put on their workout togs and join you.
Forgive, forget and fast-forward – Despite Herculean efforts, we all fall short of our goals now and then. But rather than piling on the guilt, or scoops of Chucky Monkey, absolve yourself. Stop the mental self-flagellation and think instead of how to make up the miss or simply fast-forward to your next workout.
Redecorate – Just as new paint can brighten a room, inspiring quotes and images can brighten your attitude. Decorate your space in ways that remind you of your goals and encourage you to reach them. As postings lose their punch, add new ones or change their arrangement to revive your spirits.
Short-term goals and long term goals – Motivation is hunger bugger. To keep it around, you must feed it three squares plus snacks. Snacks are the little short-term goals that sustain motivation while you work up to the more filling meals of long-term achievements.
Hit the mute button – Learn to quiet the mental voices that underestimate what you can do. If you can get them to pipe down long enough to try something new, you might prove them all wrong.
Make a date – Three Dog Night sang it true, one is the loneliest number. Though you may be comfortable letting yourself down, it is harder to stand up a date. When you exercise with a friend – or a rival – you are likely to work out longer and harder and enjoy it more. The buddy system is a cure for the loneliest workout.
A crème brûlée a day – Okay, food rewards aren’t optimal, but they sure are effective. The real point is to include a little indulgence every exercise day. Take an extra long shower. Trim your nails. Drive the scenic route. Grant yourself a few moments reward for your dedication.
Matter over mind – Brains are powerful excuse machines. In under a second, one brain can manufacture a myriad reasons for not moving. Don’t let your grey matter stop you. Let your mind invent the wildest stories of why you shouldn’t begin, while your body heads to the gym or takes that first stride. Soon enough the excuses will ebb and your brain will get with the program.
More than one measurement – It took time to become sedentary. Excellent mobility won’t return overnight. To assure that you consistently witness the gains of motion, measure your progress on every scale imaginable. If pounds plateau, how about inches, distance, flexibility, endurance, muscle mass or cheerfulness?
Find the time – Not able to carve out a chunk of time for yourself? Why not try multi-tasking your exercise. Run instead of walk Fido. Return that cup of sugar doing walking squats. Leave the car at home and ride a bike to the store.
Consider the consequences – Make a list of how activity improves your life and a list of how sitting still negatively impacts your existence. When you’re running low on inspiration, read your lists. You’re bound to find at least one reason to hang in there.
Get in a rut – Folks with a fitness schedule tend to stick to it longer and more consistently than those who do not. So put spontaneity on the shelf long enough to plan your routine. Being specific about exercise regimens can also give you a leg up on standing pat.
Sing the body electric – Recognize and savor every positive step on your journey. Celebrate the new muscle definition in your forearm. Revel in the sweetness of drawing breath rather than panting. Rejoice in the gained ease of bending down to tie your shoes. Don’t miss the moment scanning distant horizons. Come alive to the wonder of where you are now.
One change at a time – In our era of instant gratification, it is difficult to avoid taking on too much. Don’t try to change every aspect in your pursuit of health immediately. Too much change too quickly can cause overload. Enjoy the ride and the satisfaction of taking your time.
Snowflake – Every crystalline hexagon is unique and beautiful and so are we. Don’t compare yourself to others wishing for more or less. Our genes and experiences shape our bodies. Realize your own potential and don’t discourage yourself by unfavorable and unfair comparison.
Live for today – Instead of focusing on the months and years of exercise to come, think only of today…as in, “Today, I will run for 30 minutes.” How easy! You can do pretty much anything for 30 minutes. Take care of today every day and let the years take care of themselves.
Dream the I’m possible dream – Bid adieu to those ne’er do well contractions can’t and won’t. Say adios to that undermining adverb never. Think positively and say hello and welcome to any dream, no matter how large, and know it is within your reach.
WITNESS TO AN EVOLUTION
Two weeks ago I had three full minutes of running when nothing in my body hurt and nothing in my mind complained. All I sensed during that 180 seconds was the beauty of the night and the thrill of running without apprehension. The experience transported me back to a time when I ran around the yard giggling at the discovery of a speed beyond walk.
Three minutes might not sound like much, but it was a milestone for me. I sensed it was a turning point from fear and loathing of every stride to a bouncy resilience and hopefulness. Still, I wondered if it was a fluke.
Then last week I ran a full mile without stopping. Hardly a miracle for anyone who runs, but for me it was the moon and the stars. Running a mile made me realize that running is really just walking at a faster pace. I write that as a joke, but also sincerely. Before completing that mile, there was this huge mental block between myself and sustained running that made the task seem superhuman. Now it just seems a natural evolution in the process of becoming a runner.