The Greek philosopher, Aristotle, once said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
This quote is especially true when it comes to fitness and health. No matter what fitness program you get on, there’s an unspoken rule – you’ll need to maintain your fitness even after the 60 or 90-day program.
What happens if you stop exercising?
You’ll gain weight and lose the strength and/or stamina you worked so hard to achieve. You’re either progressing and maintaining or you’re regressing and losing. There’s no two ways about it.
So, a clean diet and regular exercise is NOT a fitness program but a lifestyle choice. In order for you to maintain your achievements, you’ll need good habits.
And you’ll start by making your current fitness program a habit. This will allow you to go the whole 9 yards without quitting halfway.
First thing in the morning
The best time to exercise is to do it first thing in the morning. If you have to wake up early for work, you’ll just need to wake up earlier to make time for your workout.
Of course, you’ll need to go to bed earlier at night, but generally, you’ll be tired enough to without too much tossing and turning.
Brian Tracy wrote a book titled, “Eat That Frog!”. The entire book can be summarized in one concept – do the most unpleasant task of the day first.
For most people, this will be a P90X workout… or Insanity Max… or Bodyrock. Whatever the program may be, the truth is the same.
People dread working out. Once you get it over and done with first thing in the morning, that will be a huge ‘chore’ out of the way.
Not only will you feel a sense of accomplishment, but your metabolism will get a boost and you’ll be in fat burning mode throughout the day.
Keep a calendar
Most fitness programs come with a printable workout calendar. Print these calendars and use them to stay on track. Update the calendar daily. Mark each day with a big red cross once your workout or rest day is completed.
After a week, you’ll have a chain of 7 red crosses. Your goal then will be to keep this chain going without skipping a day.
In a few months, you’ll have the habit of exercising and your day will not feel complete without a workout. As strange as this may sound, once your body gets used to regular movement and activity, it starts craving for it daily.
This is a good place to be. You’ll look forward to working out and it’ll be much easier to stay compliant.
Make things convenient
Another point that’s often missed by people is – convenience. You want to make it as easy as possible to get your workout over and done with.
Prepare your workout clothes the night before. If you use a yoga mat, lay it all ready for you. Have your bottle of water nearby.
All you want to do is wake up, brush your teeth, and get started on your training. It should be as convenient as possible.
If you sign up for a gym membership, you have two choices – the gym should be as close to your home as possible, or near to your workplace.
This will make it easy and fast to get to the gym for the classes and you can head off to work after that. Or if you’re attending fitness classes after work (not recommended), it’ll just be a stone’s throw away.
If you’re new to working out, you’re better off getting a home workout program like P90X, Core De Force, Alo Moves, Insanity, etc.
You can get a fantastic cardio and bodyweight training session in the privacy and comfort of your own home – and it’s super convenient!
25% is better than 0%
No matter how determined and dedicated you are, there will always be that one day or another when you’re just not in the mood. Emotional problems caused by day to day events can have an adverse impact on your workout efforts and your consistency.
On any given day, if you’re really not in the mood to train, do NOT let that trip you up or ‘break the chain’ of consistent workouts. Go ahead and do the workout, but you may give it anywhere from 25% to 50% of your normal effort.
In most cases, your mood will improve during the workout and you’ll give it your all. If you still don’t feel like it, a 25% effort throughout the session will suffice.
At least you won’t feel guilty at having skipped a workout and your compliance will still be on point.
In most workout programs there will be one or two rest days. This can be tricky.
For some people, all it takes is one rest day for them to skip the next day and the day after that. You must know your own behavior.
If you’re the type of person who finds it extremely difficult to get back on the workout after 2 days of rest, then you’ll need another approach.
On your rest days, you can either go for a 20-minute walk or do a gentle yoga workout. These little exercise sessions are not so much for your fitness, but a way to keep the habit going.
Since you’re active every day, including the 2 rest days, getting back on track the following week or for the next hard workout will be easier because you never really stopped exercising.
So, use this technique if you get detracted from your fitness plan easily because of rest days.
Your goal should be to stay consistent with your training and diet until they become habits and are second nature to you.
“We first make our habits, and then our habits make us.” – John Dryden