I’ve struggled for a long time to stick to fitness and make it a habit. I stopped counting how many times I’ve failed and gave up and stuck to old behavior instead. It took me a while to realize that I can change it, I can “erase” old habits and “teach” myself a new behavior. Well, that was the first step. The second one was understanding and I mean really understanding that this takes time. Lots of time. Not just days or weeks – it takes months. Whilst I was studying to become a certified Personal Trainer I stumbled across a chapter which was called “the brain”. It didn’t go into the depth of human brain structure and functions but it made me curios. The same day I found an amazing audiobook by two German doctors called “Kopfsache schlank” by Dr. Marion Reddy and Dr. Iris Zachenhofer. They talk exactly about how you are able to learn a new habit over a timespan and make it a permeant behavior. I’ve listened twice to the book because I liked it a lot and I felt that both authors are able to teach you how to change yourself for the better. Personally I’ve learned a lot about the human brain, how it works, how it makes cross-connections to the rest of your body. The following tips are just a few which helped me how to change my habits and make it work:
First you should find the habit you want to change. Is it snacking in front of the TV, do you want to go out less or are you trying to create a fitness routine? Stop thinking about your past and going over and over through the same mistakes. It’s also not helpful to blame your parents, socioeconomic status, lack of education, friends, a job or career, money or prestige for your behavior. Start by taking responsibility and watch yourself throughout the day. By doing so you can recognize not only your bad habits, but also look around and identify healthy habits that successful, happy people do all the time. After you’ve successfully identified the habit you would like to change or something you want to incorporate figure out how.
The next step will be to incorporate this new habit into our lifestyle. Let’s say our goal is to move more, start exercising. If you haven’t already, sign up for a gym membership and make an appointment with a Personal Trainer. Therefore you don’t have an excuse not to go. You can start with maybe two sessions per week and another one where you go by yourself. Find a time that works best for you. For example I’m more productive in the morning, therefore I go to the gym in the morning. By 10AM I’ve already done my workout and had breakfast. If you prefer to get up earlier do so, if you are an evening person, go in the evening. Make it workable for you and your lifestyle and stick to it. Schedule the sessions with your trainer or with your friends and see it as a “meeting with yourself”. You don’t cancel business meetings just because you are too lazy so why would you cancel an important meeting with yourself? Find a routine and repeat the same routine over and over again.
Reward yourself. I would suggest you stick at least one month without excuses to your new routine – after the first four weeks invest even more in you. Treat yourself with a spa day, your favorite sneakers or an appointment with your massage therapist. Do something you really enjoy and just relax. Think about the past few weeks. You will notice a little change already.
You are off to a great start now. Don’t fall back into old habits or old routines. Remember some routines are in our brains for years – don’t expect to change them overnight. It takes practice, patience and a lot of motivation to push through. Trust me, once you’ve reached the first few weeks you will notice a difference. I personally rewarded myself with workout gear and a beautiful pair of sneakers followed by a facial. I have a thing for facials, so my personal rewards always include this. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you fall off the wagon – jump right back on the next day and don’t overthink the day before. Repeat your new habit every single day, stick to it, practice it and believe in yourself. After months you will have reached a whole new level where this habit might have already changed into an automatic long-term behavior.