January is here and we’ve all heard it before – it’s a time of new beginnings and starting as we mean to go on. Many people begin a new exercise program, but over 80% end up abandoning it before Easter! Our fitness partners at PureGym have some top tips to help you establish habits that will help make achieving your goals easier!
Whatever your health goals are, implementing good habits is key to set yourself up for success, particularly if you want your goals to last beyond Easter! When embarking on a new challenge or goal, motivation is often high, so putting in effort seems easy. But over time, the motivation that was once there starts to take a dip and it can seem the thought of achieving your goals you set out are too far to reach.
Habit formation is often overlooked but it’s actually integral when working towards any goal, whether that’s healthy habits to lose weight, to get fit, to sleep better or simply to improve your lifestyle.
Here are some of PureGym’s top tips that will help you to achieve your goals:
Start with small lifestyle changes
Instead of trying to make big changes from the start, take a look at where you’re at now, and identify what small healthy changes you can make in your life. Pick some small and simple things. The easier you can make it, the easier it will be to stick to. Over time, you’ll see the big impact of that small change!
For example, if your goal is to eat more veggies, instead of thinking about changing your current diet completely, how about adding an extra piece of veg to the dishes you usually make?
Another example could be if your goal is to go for a walk in the morning, it can be as simple as making it a habit to put your trainers on. Often starting is the hardest so being able to prompt an action at this point can be really helpful in reducing resistance to behaviours that are going to help you in reaching your goals.
It’s a lot easier to do something small at any time, rather than making drastic changes in one go. The key to seeing progress is turning those single events into repeated and natural behaviours.
Have prompts as healthy habit reminders
Having prompts or cues can help remind us to take a certain action, which can be really useful when trying to form useful habits. For example, if you want to make a habit of going to the gym, leaving your gym kit in sight and ready for the morning can act as a useful reminder of your intentions to go to the gym. Chances are, you would be more likely to go and put your gym kit on if it’s in view and ready than if it was hidden in your wardrobe.
Have a think about your current environment and what cues you can make more visible to help with good habits, and how you might reduce exposure to cues that cause unhelpful habits.
Stack your habits
If establishing a new healthy habit without any prompt or trigger feels like a challenge, you can try pairing a new habit with a current habit. This is called habit stacking. For example, if you want to improve your flexibility and you often tell yourself you’ll stretch at home after you’ve completed your workout in the gym, only to never action it, you can make it a habit of going to the stretch area in the gym as soon as you’ve finished a workout.
Keeping healthy habits small and simple is key. Whilst such a small action may not feel like much, over time, it will reap big results. Research shows that it takes an average 66 days to form a habit, so use this time to focus on mastering good habits so they become second-nature. You may not see results immediately, but over a threshold, the results will be big, so stick with it!
Tiny changes add up over time to make big changes.
If you find yourself falling and slipping up, remember that it’s okay! Learn from them and adjust the plan or habit if needed.
Gather evidence of your progress
Tracking your progress can help you stay motivated in sticking to your newfound habits. One way to do this is to cross a box off your calendar for every time you’ve actioned the new habit (or have eliminated a bad habit). This can serve as a great reminder visually of all the days you stuck to actions that are serving you to help you reach your goal.
Don’t forget to celebrate the small wins too!
Every achievement, no matter how small, is valid. Establishing rewards can help too – for example, after completing a workout, you can reward yourself for the workout by watching your favourite TV show.
Above all, it’s important to build habits that are conducive to your needs and goals. Where possible, try to make it as enjoyable as possible, be persistent, and don’t be too hard on yourself on the days you slip. Remember you can always work on it the next day and adapt if necessary.