Healthy Habits

“If you pick the right small behaviour and sequence it right, then you won’t have to motivate yourself to have it grow. It will just happen naturally, like a good seed planted in a good spot.” ―BJ Fogg

I recently had a conversation with one of my good friends about all the things she wants to do consistently but can’t motivate herself to do. Does this sound familiar? Of course, exercise was at the top of her list. She knows how important it is to exercise, she understands the benefits beyond the physical and she expressed to me how much better she feels when she moves her body.

Just do it, it’s so simple…but is it really?

I can’t tell you the number of people I’ve had this exact conversation with. My friends all know I’m a “fitness professional” and new acquaintances find out quickly when they ask “what do you do”? Inevitably, they ask me, how can I make myself exercise? So, here are my tips and tricks.

1. This is the most important tip; do something you like to do. If you hate running and try to force yourself to do it, you won’t. Did you love to dance when you were a kid? Was there a sport you loved? Do you like to be surrounded by nature? Do you love dogs, and can you offer to walk a friend’s dog if you don’t want to get your own?

2. Get an accountability partner. Most of us are more than willing to let down ourselves but would never let down someone else. Do you have a friend you can walk with? Do you have a friend you can call while you walk, maybe someone who lives in a different city that you rarely see (and not just during Covid)? Can you create a text chain of friends who will encourage and motivate each other to keep moving? You could enlist a workout buddy and you don’t have to exercise together. You could set up a system that you have to text your buddy after your daily dose of movement. If you break the chain (or your buddy) does, you could “owe” them something, money, a dinner on you, something meaningful to both of you.

3. Can you pair something you like to do with something you don’t want to do? This idea comes from best-selling author Gretchen Rubin’s book (I highly recommend this great read). She suggests the strategy of “pairing”. Maybe there is a podcast you love to listen to, so you only allow yourself to listen while you’re walking. Or perhaps a favourite TV (insert Netflix, Prime, Disney+) that you only watch while walking on your treadmill or stationary bike. Don’t have any equipment at home? Replace the equipment with some stretching or walking on the spot.

4. Another tip that works really well for me is to find your peak movement zone. I prefer the morning. I set my workout clothes next to my bed and put them on first thing (often layering over when it’s cold out). And I don’t shower or “fix” myself up. Once my hair is “done”, I have no desire to get sweaty and start the process over again. Now, of course, a walk, some yoga or stretching may be different.

5. My last tip, also from Gretchen Rubin’s book, set up a system of rewards for yourself. But be careful, choose your reward wisely. It’s easy to use sweet treats as a reward or something you’ve been longing for, but that can be dangerous if you set it up that once you complete a 30-day yoga challenge, you can buy that coveted new bag. What will the incentive be to keep doing

yoga? Find a reward that will encourage to keep the new habit, maybe some new yoga clothing or a new yoga mat.

So, I will leave it at that for now, five actionable tips to help you form a new healthy habit. I hope you will find these strategies useful. Let us know how it goes, connect with us @humberfitnessnorth on IG.

pic of book cover that is mentioned in blog post -  Better Than Before-Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives

pic of workout clothes folded on a bench ready to be put on in the morning

(my clothes ready to go for my workout in the morning)

Deb Singer