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I’m sure thousands of women around the world join the gym, attend religiously for a week, or a month or even three months, but then the commitment petters off and they’re left making a donation to the gym every week until the contract runs out. Whether it’s the gym, walking, running or a dance class – turning exercise into habit sometimes seems difficult. Here’s how to do it:
1. Decide that you really want to do it and then commit
There’s two decisions to make. Firstly, why you want to do it – to be healthier, to keep fit, to shape up? How much do you want this? Think about it then remove any “I’ll try” or “I’d like to..” from your vocabulary to say “I’m going to make exercise a habit because I want to be fitter and healthier”. Give yourself certainty. Thoughts and words are powerful in how our brains process information, so you need to really convince yourself and your brain you’re going to commit.
The second decision is that whatever you want to sign up for, or get into a routine of doing, evaluate if it is something that you really want to do. Do you want to join the gym because you think it’s the best way to shape up, or because you can really imagine yourself enjoying (or at least not dreading!) doing for a long period of time. Pick something you can stick to.
2. Get support and keep yourself motivated
Enlist an exercise buddy to help keep you motivated. If you’re a walker or a runner, find an event in an area near you and train up for it. Knowing you’re going to have to challenge yourself to complete a longer distance in an event is a great motivator to get you outside and moving on the days when you can’t be bothered.Other good motivators include gadgets like Nike Plus or Adidas Mi Coach which help track your exercise, including speed and distance so you can see improvements.
3. Cut excuses
We’re great at creating reasons why we shouldn’t exercise. I find myself doing it sometimes on the way home – thoughts pop into my head like “I’m not in the mood, I’ve had a busy day at work, an extra day off won’t hurt”. It’s important to shut down those thoughts as quickly as possible, unless you are really feeling unwell or sore. When thoughts like this pop into my head I use statements of truth like “It is only half an hour out of your day, and you know you’ll feel better afterwards”. Rebutting excuses helps keep you focused. It is the thought of exercise that is always the hardest part.
4. Set goals
Set realistic goals both short term and long term. Write them down. If they’re not written down they are dreams not goals. Writing helps cement them as being real.
The key to making exercise a lifetime habit is seeing it as something that is a necessary part of your life for health, and a part of your routine. So set time aside each week, use the four steps above and before you know it it will just be a part of what you do, and you’ll be feeling better for it.