It’s no secret that building new healthy habits that you can stick to long-term can be hard. You probably know many people who have tried to start a new diet or workout program, only to fall off the wagon. Again, and again. In fact, you probably have tried and failed a time or two yourself.
The truth is, there is a right and a wrong way to go about making changes to your fitness habits. The wrong way involves trying to use brute-force willpower, and trying to just “be strong”.
The right way involves using science and psychology to set yourself up for success by making things a little easier on yourself.
If you’re ready to achieve your goals, give these 5 science-backed methods a try!
#1 – Write Your Goal Down
Once you have a goal in mind, write it down. The act of writing it down makes it more real, more concrete.
Writing a goal down, and making the choice to act on it, is making a commitment to yourself. It is an acknowledgement that your dreams and wants are important, and that you’re ready to start making them a reality.
Once you have written your goal down, hang it up somewhere that you will see on a regular basis. For example, you could hang it on your mirror at home or on your computer screen at work. This will help you keep your goal and commitment in mind as you go throughout your day.
#2 – Block Out Time To Work On Your Goal
The number one reason that people give for not sticking to their fitness goals, is not having enough time.
When you set aside time to work on your goal throughout the week, you are making that goal a priority. This greatly increases your chances of achieving your goals.
When you are picking a time to work on your goals, there are a few things you should keep in mind.
First, what time of the day are you usually the most productive? Is it in the morning? The evening? The afternoon? Take this into account when setting aside time to exercise.
Next, when will there be the least amount of distractions?
For example, I am not a morning person. I usually find I have the most energy to exercise around 4 PM after I get off work. I like to go to work, workout, take my shower, and then make dinner.
However, my days can be really unpredictable. Things often come up at work that I have to take care of right away. If I work late, I miss my preferred workout time. Then, it’s dinner time and I’m too hungry to workout before dinner, and too full to workout after dinner. And I don’t like to workout before bed because then I can’t sleep.
For years I tried to make this late afternoon time work for me. But so often I missed my workout because things came up at work.
Finally, despite not being a morning person, I switched my workouts to the morning. Once I did this, I made a lot more of my workouts than I ever did trying to do it after work.
One huge benefit to getting things out of the way in the morning, is that things are typically a little more predictable in the morning. As the day goes on, a hundred little things can come up to work against you achieving your goals.
So take into account when you are most productive, but also plan to pick a time that there are fewer distractions.
#3 – Tell Someone About Your Goal
It can help when you are starting a new goal or habit, to tell people about it. Especially people that you think would be supportive of your goals. Telling people about it opens the door for them to help out or to check in on your progress.
For example, if you tell your spouse that you are trying to achieve this goal, but things are hectic at home, they may be able to help you out. For example, they might say, “Honey, let me take care of the laundry while you workout.”
Think about people that have been supportive of you in the past and make a plan to tell these people about your new goal.
If you can’t think of anyone that might be supportive, try to seek out a group online that is trying to do something similar to you. For example, a Facebook group that revolves around fitness for moms etc.
#4 – Make An Exercise Date With A Friend
If you have friends that exercise, or friends that would like to exercise more, why not make an exercise date? You could go for a walk, a bike ride, or a attend fitness class once a week together.
There are lots of benefits to exercising with friends.
- It’s more fun to exercise with others!
- Friends can push each other to do their best.
- If you aren’t feeling very motivated, you might skip your workout, but you’re less likely to cancel on a friend.
- Friends can act as accountability partners.
#5 – Sign-Up For An Event
Make a commitment to train for a certain activity or event. For example, have you always wanted to do one of those obstacle mud runs or to backpack a trail that you know requires permits? Is there a cause that you care about that does an athletic type fundraiser?
Do some searching for events that inspire you. Here are a few ideas:
- Sky Island Summit Challenge – A 1, 2, or 3 peak hiking challenge.
- Bike the US for MS – A fundraiser for Multiple Sclerosis.
- Backpack the Enchantments – A permit only trip you have to book a year in advance.
- Over The Edge – Rappelling buildings for charity.
- Tough Mudder – Challenging and fun obstacle course mud runs.
There are a few major benefits to picking an event to train for.
One is that it gives you an end date that you’re shooting for. This keeps you on track for your training, and makes it harder to procrastinate.
Two, it usually requires some sort of financial investment to sign up for these events. If you’ve got something invested up front, you are less likely to cancel, because you have already paid.
Most importantly, it gives you something to look forward to! It’s a lot more enjoyable to train for a specific event that you are excited or passionate about, than to “just workout”. It gives you a lot more motivation!
Willpower can only get you so far in achieving your goals. If you rely on willpower alone, it’s likely that you may fail. Instead, take advantage of science and psychology to make achieving your goals a little easier.
The 5 tips in this post focus on building motivation, planning for success, making a commitment to yourself, enjoying your fitness journey, and getting support from friends and family to make your goal a reality.
Do you plan on trying any of the techniques discussed in this post?
If so, which ones and why?
Can you think of an event that you might be able to train for?