How to Make Exercise *Stick*
Written by: Coach Slater
We’re halfway in to our Summer Transformation challenge, and the four males & females who either lose the most body fat or gain the most muscle will win over $400 each. Two of the biggest keys to winning this challenge are Consistency and Nutrition. Today, let’s talk about Consistency by addressing “how to make exercise stick”.
Whether you prefer to workout in the morning, afternoon, or evening, exercise needs to become your routine, your habit, and creating new habits can be a challenge. The most successful people at Derby City don’t exercise ‘sometimes’, they attend the gym on most days without fail. Here are some ideas on how you can follow in their footsteps, making your workout just a part of your normal life.
Get Enough Sleep
This is like the Prologue before Chapter One. The first step before the actual first step. Everyone knows that feeling of running on empty because they didn’t sleep. It’s going to be impossible to keep your new exercise habit if you’re not sleeping. So, if you workout in the morning, but you don’t go to bed early enough, you’ll find it hard to get out of bed. And, if you workout after work, that’s the time of day when a bad night’s sleep will catch up with you making you more likely to go home and sit on the couch rather than get to the gym. Don’t let lack of sleep be an excuse. It’s largely within your control.
Set the Alarm
This is for you early risers. Create the habit of waking up with enough time to hit the gym, by consistently getting out of bed at the same time every day. This recommendation may sound oversimplified, but if you simply make it a habit of waking up at a certain time every day, it’s hard to break that habit without intervention. If you set the alarm but find yourself hitting snooze frequently, then you need to go to bed earlier.
Get Your Gym Stuff Ready Before Bed or Before Work
You’re starting a new habit, so it helps to eliminate any possible excuses. One of which is preparing your gym clothes, gym bag, and pre/intra/post-workout shakes before going to bed or before leaving for work. If you commonly use your pet or running errands as an excuse to go home after work, then think about changing your routine to do that on your lunch break so you can go straight to the gym after you leave the office. Make it so there’s minimal thinking required to get moving. When the alarm goes off in the morning or you get in your car at the end of the workday, you don’t think, you just do.
Just Show Up
At first, don’t focus on crushing the workout, chasing the time of someone on the whiteboard, or beating everyone in class. We need to create a habit of exercise that is so easy, you can do it even when you’re running low on willpower and motivation. So for now, just focus on showing up, even if that means you only perform the workout at “sub-Life”, get time-capped every day, and are always the last to finish. No one cares how you perform, they just care that you came and gave an honest effort.
Focus on the Process, Not the Results
Most people join Derby City telling us “I want to lose 20 pounds” or “I want to lose the jiggle”. In fact, many people said similar things to me when signing up for the Summer Transformation challenge! I think it’s better to focus on the system, the habit of working out, rather than the results. You’re trying to establish a new normal of never missing workouts, a routine of consistent attendance, because doing so will lead to your goal. Remember, “Hitting DCCF 3 days per week is just enough to *break even*, but if you’re serious about seeing dramatic physical changes, then consider 4 or 5 days per week.” Focus on what you can control, and the result will come more easily.
If you’re the type of person that justifies eating something bad because you did something good, then A) you really need to break that habit, and B) use your pre/intra/post-workout shake as a treat. Of course, I want you to make that shake a healthy one, not just a vessel for a pint of ice cream. My post-workout shake uses a bit of Kool-Aid powder, and I really look forward to the days when I put in the Orange powder. Many in the gym rave about mixing our Driven Nutrition Vanilla Whey Protein with an Orange Gatorade for a creamsicle-like taste. Focusing on that reward might make it easier to get yourself to your workout.
We want to make exercise a habit, one that is hard to break. An active life is proven to make you happier, healthier, and full of energy. So, start creating the habit, and we’ll do our part to keep you accountable.