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10 Mindset Changes to Help Make Working Out a Habit
There are plenty of articles and techniques out there to help people quit a habit, whether it’s smoking, biting nails, swearing, or incessantly apologizing. However, there are far fewer resources detailing how to establish a new habit. Perhaps this is because the “bad habits” we listed above seem to happen effortlessly. If only the same could be said for healthy habits, like drinking water, eating well, and exercising.
Looking after your health feels good, but it can also be a lot of work. The world we live in is partially to blame: modern society has made bad habits feel a lot easier to access than good ones. Take food, for instance. Cooking takes time, but pizza is instant – and as a result, picking up takeout after work becomes a habit. The same goes for commuting. Sure, you can walk, but taking an Uber will give you an extra hour of sleep; soon it becomes your routine. These simple fixes make life easier in the moment but can lead to poor health, which isn’t easy to live with at all.
When it comes to working out, many people face this same dilemma: they enjoy exercise and its results, but struggle to incorporate it into their routine. Days, weeks, and even months can go by without a gym visit or a dedicated day of exercise.
When you finally do exercise, you wonder why you waited this long. The answer is, of course, is that you haven’t made it into a habit.
Creating a Healthy Habit
If you’d like to make your next “hard to break habit” a healthy one, working out and looking after your physical health is a great idea. But before we delve into some ideas for creating healthy workout habits, let’s talk about the actual process of developing a routine.
The scientific world has seen a significant amount of discussion about this very topic – for a long time, folks said that any habit could be built in 21 days. That may be true for some small habits, but for larger ones, 21 days might just be the jumping-off point. More recent studies suggest that a more realistic number would be 66 days – that’s just over two months.
We recently watched a Netflix series where a character tries to start jogging in order to improve his life. Another runner notices him struggling and tells him, “It gets easier. Every day it gets a little easier. But you gotta do it every day. That’s the hard part. But it does get easier.”
We love this quote because it can apply to so many things in life. It’s very true – and it certainly applies to what we’re covering today. Building a habit takes dedication, but since you’re here, we know you have plenty of that!
Here are a few tips for developing healthy habitual workout habits – and getting into the right mindset to do so.
- Set Goals
Everybody needs goals. Whether they’re beginning a fitness journey, starting a new job, beginning a new project, or even embarking on a new relationship, having a vision and goal to work for will give order and direction to your process.
You already have one goal: making exercise a habit, not a chore or an extra activity. You want to seamlessly thread it into your life, right? That’s a fantastic start. Now, let’s set a few more goals to help make that happen.
If you’re unsure of which fitness goals to set, that’s okay. Take some time to reflect. Imagine yourself in the future, working out every day as effortlessly as you feed your cat or make your morning coffee. Maybe you see yourself, super fit, in yoga clothes – perhaps your goal can be to master five poses by the end of the year. Or, maybe you see pecs and barbells – your goal can be lifting a certain amount of weight. Eventually, it will become a habit, you’ll be in amazing shape, and everything will be worth it.
Your Mindset Mantra: There is a future that I want, and I can take steps to make it happen.
- Accountability Is Key
Working with a buddy or a coach can be a great way to make working out a habit. Be very clear about which goals you’ve established and let them know that it’s crucial for you to make your workout routine a habit. On days that you don’t feel like hitting the gym, or want to blow it off for other plans, you’ll need to answer to them! This will hold you more accountable for your workout, leading you to cancel only when it’s really necessary.
Your Mindset Mantra: Cancelling gym plans won’t only affect me – my actions have power.
- Start Small
If working out is new or intimidating to you, that’s completely okay. It’s still something you can make into a habit! The key is to set goals that are realistic for you.
Don’t push yourself into something you’re not ready for – start small. You can build your way up to longer hours, more reps, and more intensive workouts down the line. For now, focus on laying down the foundation, nailing technique, and building the habits.
Your Mindset Mantra: I am building the foundation of my future.
- Love Your Routine
You keep hearing that swimming laps is a great way to work your body, but you detest the smell of chlorine, hate the feeling of your hair being wet, and have a slight (and totally legit) fear of a shark snapping at your foot while you work. Just because swimming is good for you doesn’t mean it’s the right workout for you. If you don’t enjoy your workout – or even dread it – it’s never going to become a habit.
Choose a workout that excites you, makes you feel great, and meshes with your body and lifestyle. That could mean one-on-one training sessions, joining a sports team or activity club, taking a class, or embarking on a solo workout journey.
This is also an excellent opportunity to reflect. Think back; are there any forms of movement or sport that you find interesting? What sports did you like as a child? If you spent your childhood fascinated by ballet performances, perhaps a dance class in order. If you lived and breathed soccer, maybe it’s time to join an intramural team. Remember, no matter what you choose, a good fitness center will have staff members to help you train or get in shape for most of those activities.
Your Mindset Mantra: I am working out because I enjoy the activity.
- Stick With It
Let’s say that your first habit goal is to do a half-hour of yoga stretches every morning before you start your day. That’s your new rule, so don’t let yourself be flexible about it unless you have a legitimate reason. That might mean not snoozing your alarm some mornings, even if you want to. Holding yourself accountable and refusing to make excuses will lead you to make healthier choices in other aspects of your life, too.
If you wake up feeling grouchy one morning but still do your stretches, it probably won’t be the most enjoyable workout of your life, but you’ll likely feel a little better after you’re done. The next day, when you wake up in a better mood, you’ll be glad that you didn’t break your streak.
Your Mindset Mantra: I will not listen to the voice in my head telling me to be lazy.
- Remember WHY
By now, you’re probably seeing why our very first tip was “set a goal.” It plays a role in all of our other suggestions. Aren’t you glad you took the time to think of some for yourself?
When you set those goals, you visualized a healthier version of yourself. On the days where you don’t feel like working out, reflect on that visualization and goal. It will likely inspire you to get moving – and will hopefully remind you that you’ve already made strides.
Your Mindset Mantra: The person I want to become is waiting for me in the future – I can do this!
- Seek Inspiration
Social media is filled with “fitspiration” content. Whether you feel like following fitness influencers, pinning your favorite activewear, or watching your favorite YouTube athlete, you’ll be bound to find new ideas to try and goals for yourself. You might even want to make yourself a vision board to look back on when you need an extra push.
Your Mindset Mantra: People just like me have hit their goals, and so can I.
- Reach Out
For some of us, everything’s better with company. If you prefer to have a friend by your side while you go about your daily routine – whether that’s walking your dog or grocery shopping – you might find that a workout buddy suits you. As we spoke of earlier, there’s the accountability factor, but that’s not all. Exercising with a friend opens the entire experience for you!
Working out with a friend can make the experience more enjoyable and encourage you to engage with more enthusiasm. You can take a class together, hit the gym at the same time, or start hiking or biking as a pair. This gives you a support system, which will in turn allow you to try new things in an environment that makes you feel safe. You can also turn to each other for advice, emotional support, or send each other funny workout memes, too – at its core, this is a friendship that evolved from a shared fitness goal.
Here’s an idea we love: create a fun “post-workout” habit with your gym buddy. Maybe that means enjoying a protein shake at your favorite cafe after sessions. Maybe you head to your place together to watch an episode of a shared show. Whatever you choose, having a fun post-workout plan with your bud will make your gym sesh all the more enticing.
Your Mindset Mantra: Working out with my friend is a highlight of my week.
- Plan in Advance
It’s midnight on a Friday night. You’ve decided that tomorrow, you’re going to be healthier. You pat yourself on the back and go to bed, convinced that you will wake up on time, exercise, eat a healthy breakfast, do errands, clean, catch up with a friend, and cook a nourishing dinner all before making a cup of herbal tea and diving into an award-winning novel before a 10 p.m. bedtime. The morning comes and none of that happens. Not even the gym.
Break the “skip the gym” habit by creating new ones and planning in advance. Write your plans down. Be tough on yourself. You can handle it. Set multiple alarms so you cannot snooze. Set your gym clothes out. Tell your coach to expect you at the gym at a particular time. Buy the ingredients for your healthy meals – you won’t want to waste them. Even invite someone over for dinner, so you can’t make excuses to not cook.
Plan. You might not keep all of them, but you’re likely to keep more.
Your Mindset Mantra: Once my plans are made, I cannot break them unless it’s an emergency.
- Find Your Circle
A support network is the most important gift you can give yourself during any major journey, whether that’s your personal fitness, learning a new skill, moving somewhere new, or anything else that you choose to do with your life.
At Jack City Fitness, we’re here to be your fitness circle. With a team of passionate fitness and nutrition coaches, supportive teachers, and a network of friendly partners to work out with, Jack City is Boise’s number one spot to make fitness a lifelong habit.
With us, gym-goers become our partners – and they get all sorts of perks. Gym access is 24/7 at Jack City Fitness, so whether you want to hit the treadmill before your morning commute or lift weights after your 3 a.m. shift finishes, we’ll be waiting for you. You also have access to engaging classes, coaching options, and brand-new equipment to ensure that your fitness journey is an excellent one.
Ready to make some new healthy habits? Get in touch with our team today by calling (208) 999-1111 and we’ll invite you to our Boise facility to see what we’re all about. You can even try a free fitness consultation – it might inspire you to peek into one of our classes or meet a few of our coaches.
Your Mindset Mantra: At Jack City, I always have a safe space to work on my health.