3 tips to make your exercise habits stick in 2021 (for real, this time)
Are you starting to see the “new year, new me” posts streaming in and feeling a bit wobbly about how to make your 2021 health goals stick? It’s easier than you know, and we’re here to break it down for you.
It’s no secret that health is always the go-to resolution (don’t you let anybody make you feel poorly about that) and given the year we’ve had, it has been glaringly obvious how many of us take our good health for granted. Whether you’re looking to lose the lockdown weight, continue with the routine you’ve discovered over the course of the year or are maybe looking to regain your strength after being affected by COVID-19, sticking to your exercise goals is accessible and far more attainable than people think.
We’re going to let you in something: you don’t need the motivation of a world-renowned triathlete to get up and exercise in the morning. In fact, even world-renowned triathletes don't have that motivation every day. Contrary to popular belief, motivation is far from being the driving force behind having a disciplined approach to exercise: habit is. Sure, some people are more naturally motivated than others but don’t be fooled: even the most regimented people aren’t thrilled at the thought of hopping out of bed at 5 AM in winter to go and move their legs faster than usual around the block. The more important aspect of nailing your exercise goals is all upstairs: in your brain and through habits that need to be rewired.
Start small (with big intentions)
Sometimes starting a new health journey can feel like chipping at a mountain with a toothpick. There’s no need to overwhelm your body with things that you just aren’t ready to do just yet. You’re only going to end up with a torn hamstring and a bruised ego, which is why we recommend you start small.
You need to be able to envision yourself finishing your workouts and get your body and mind into a state of self-efficacy. This builds trust in your ability to finish what you said you would and will leak into your thought-patterns for when your workouts become more intense, which they will when backed with a little self-belief and a sprinkle of humble beginnings.
If you’re looking for some small but effective starts to getting pumped about exercising, try this 30 Minute Equipment Free Full Body Workout on for size!
Have health prompts
Somebody very zen once said that your surroundings make you who you are. Or we just made that up, but it still rings true! You need to make sure your living environment is conducive to a healthy lifestyle.
Making decisions is an integral part of building a concrete habit: the decision to skip the gym, the decision to skip flossing your teeth, the decision to phone your ex on a lonely Sunday - the list goes on. The dangerous thing with cemented habits, however, is that the decision-making process becomes second nature, you start operating on autopilot. You don’t have to sit and think about the pros and cons of missing your workout if you’re already in the habit of skimping out more than once a week: the habit starts overtaking any weighted decisions on the matter.
When you have cues that align with a habit you’re trying to create, you eliminate that decision-making process, at least by a little bit. You allow the brain to immediately make an association that,
“Okay, there’s the gym bag at the door. It kind of smells bad but I guess we’re heading to get our sweat on anyway.”
Having cues in place is a practice that falls under a subcategory of habits called instigative habits, and is fantastic for rewiring the way your brain needs to make decisions about exercising - by taking out the off-putting decisions that we often have to make between our bed and the open road. What are some cues you could put in place? We’re glad you asked
- Keeping your workout clothes next to bed to change into as you wake up.
- Having some honest, kind words on the mirror.
- Have a workout tracker on the fridge or in your mirror to keep track of how many days in a row you worked up a sweat. This is helpful because naturally, you won’t want to break the streak!
- Have other healthy cues throughout your day - drink a glass of water, choose the stairs and be aware of your breathing.
Plan(et) of the fit
There is no use committing yourself to an hour of intense cardio per day when 1) the last time your heart rate went that high was in university and 2) you don’t have an hour to spare every day. You will only find yourself horribly disappointed and we know how that tub of ice-cream in the fridge loves a disappointed companion.
Planning your workouts means adapting them to your life (whilst still recognising they are a priority) and not overwhelming your schedule and body with something too extreme. You need to have workouts that are written out that you understand, enjoy and can’t wait to finish.
At Oneplan, we know that your health goes far beyond your health insurance policy which is why we often try to dispense some advice on how to keep you and your family as healthy as possible - we plan to continue this into 2021. We hope that your health goals are responsible, exciting and making some waves for your wellbeing.
Yours in healthy insurance,