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Time to Workout Again?!

Good habits beat out good goals.

Are short and long term goals essential to our success in getting fit and healthy?  In my opinion, not so much.

Americans are quite good at goal setting.

“I want to lose 20 pounds by spring!”  “I’m going to eat healthier in 2012!”  “I’m going to fit in my high school jeans in time for my reunion.”  “I’m going to run my first marathon.”

Goal achievement is an essential part of life and validates our hard work. Want to be your ideal weight?  Want to set a new personal record in a race?  Great.

To live a healthy lifestyle FOREVER, your habits are far more important than your goals.

“But my goals force me to keep up the habits,” you say.  Not necessarily.

Goals are drivers. Goals stimulate desire. Goals might even get the juices flowing for awhile. If you don’t have the habits in place to support those goals, those juices begin to dry up.

A habit is a consistent commitment to a practice.  (Practice as a noun).

The general rule of thumb is that it takes about 21-28 days of consistency to establish a habit.  However, a European study at the University of College London raised that time frame to an average of 66 days.  How long it takes depends a lot on the type of habit.  In this study, drinking a set amount of daily water was much faster than doing 50 sit-ups daily.  It takes time and practice for good habits to develop, especially if replacing bad ones.

You have a goal of losing 20 pounds. You begin exercising. Life stuff happens. You have not yet established a consistent practice of working out (habit) or eating right. Workouts begin to suffer. Fast food re-enters the picture. Goal is not achieved. You feel badly.

First create the habit of exercising daily.  Work the habit into your real life.  THEN set the goal and adjust intensity, duration, complexity of the workouts. The habit provides the foundation.

Whether you are just getting off the couch or training for an Ironman, every day comes OFTEN!  Ever wake up in disbelief that it is time to workout AGAIN SO SOON?  Especially if you are sore, tired, completed a tough workout the day before, are busy with life.  Feels like you didn’t have a chance to relish in the accomplishment of yesterday!

Skitz tips to deal with “Every Day Syndrome”:

  1. Give yourself 24 hours between workouts. If it’s only 12 hrs, work out anyway.
  2. Go through the motions and the “start” will soon be the middle and you’ll feel much better. Starting is the worst part.
  3. Believe that your fatigue and apathy will turn to satisfaction when you’re done.
  4. Establish a pre-workout routine that you look forward to.  For me, it’s my favorite Clif Bar and large mug of coffee and quiet time to read a magazine.  Find your pre-workout zen!
  5. Remind yourself of your rules. Follow them every time.  Evaluate later.
  6. Ask yourself ONLY the right questions. “What makes me proud of myself right now?”  “Would a fit and healthy person be going to the gym this morning?”
  7. Provide an ENDING to the workout cycle that sends a note to the brain that recovery and rest can begin. Establish a ritual or small token of self-appreciation after each workout.  An after workout meal or snack , a longer shower, a 5 minute meditation, time in the sauna, coffee with a friend.  You need to feel the “exclamation point” for a job well done.
You can have great habits.  You can have great habits and goals.  But you can’t reach goals without good habits. 

"You have to persevere until the will to do good becomes a disposition to do good." Seneca


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