How I Turned Motivation Into Habit

I changed my life 141 weeks ago.  For my entire adult life before that, I didn’t stick with any kind of fitness or nutrition program.  And I wasn’t an athlete in high school, so it’s more accurate to say that I stopped exercising regularly when “recess” and “PE” weren’t scheduled parts of  my day.

So how did I make this change?  What did I do to make it work?   It takes 3 weeks to form a new habit.  I knew I needed to be organized to stick to it for those three weeks to get the routines set.

First, I identified everything I could think of that would derail me on a daily or weekly basis.  Then I made a plan to address each one of those things.  I accepted that I had to have routines.  I anticipated that I’d have to tweak the plans.  As a teacher, I’m a professional planner.  If I could facilitate and manage 30+ teenagers at a time, I could do this.

1) Work will interfere with workouts.  

I gave myself permission to make simple lessons.  For example, tomorrow I want my students to play some kind of review game.  Had an idea of something I could make that would take me a couple hours.  Instead, I thought of a “plan B” that will have them do a similar activity, but they will write the questions to ask each other.  I promised myself to work only during work hours as much as possible.  I prioritize lesson planning as #1 – always.  I say “no” to everything extra.  I don’t attend extra-curricular things anymore – and that is truly a sacrifice because I feel that’s pretty important for a teacher.  I’ve graded papers on the stationary bike.   And if it takes me longer to get papers graded, it does.  That’s just the way it’s going to be.

2) I don’t have anything healthy with me to eat.

I cook for the week during one afternoon on the weekend.  I don’t vary the menu from day to day for most meals.  I pack in breakfasts, snacks, and lunches.  Dinner is made each night, so that can vary.  Sure, it’s boring.  But I feel great and I’m healthy.  That’s more important to me.

3) I’m too sleepy in the morning to think.

Pack the gym bag a night.  I shower at the gym for work so I’ve got all the stuff I might need in that bag.  The next day’s clothes are packed in.  I have extra underwear and socks in that bag, just in case.  The bag is ready before I go to bed so I just have to grab it and go.  My gym has a spot to hang bath towels and no one messes with them.  But before I started going to this gym, I kept the towel in my car.  I actually keep a lot of extra stuff in the car.  It’s my rolling locker.

4) I don’t have enough time in the mornings.

Simplify the makeup and hair routines.  Over time, I just gave up on this stuff altogether.  Less stuff to haul around and less time in the locker room getting ready for work.  There are several out of shape women at my gym that spend more time in the locker room than working out.  I think that’s a little backwards.  People acclimate to what I look like not all fixed up.

5) I can’t stick with it.

I promised myself that I wouldn’t miss a day.  Ever.  In these 140 weeks, I have had to miss a couple workouts, but just a couple.  When it happened, I didn’t let myself make a judgement about it.  Just got back to it.

I’m sure I’m forgetting something… not sure what right now, but it doesn’t matter.  Everyone will have different issues.  The point is to prepare and plan.  Please comment with tips about things you’ve done to make exercise and healthy nutrition habits in your life.  I’m always looking for a better idea.

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Filed under Life, Motivation, Nutrition

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