In my last post, I talked about sticking with a fitness plan by developing and changing habits. I also shared that developing habits is a process that requires persistence. After further reflection, I came to realize that I hadn’t shared the secret to developing healthy habits, as I’ve experienced it.
You see, developing habits – especially healthy ones that we know we should have – can really be difficult. Creating new, healthier habits – or getting rid of those that aren’t so healthy – feels like a lot of work and it isn’t always enjoyable. There’s also a good chance you won’t enjoy developing healthy habits simply because you may have learned over the years that what’s enjoyable and what’s healthy don’t often go hand in hand. This mindset is pretty pervasive, and there is no doubt that it gets in the way – sabotaging your efforts before they’ve even gotten off the ground.
There is one thing that can help tremendously – research and my experiences with clients bear this out – start with a healthy habit you enjoy or are excited about. It just takes one. Make this your starting point.
I’m a fitness fanatic with probably a bit too much passion for working out, so I get a kick out of doing more pull-ups or running a faster mile (known as an “end” or “goal”). But if performance markers like that don’t do it for you, then find something that you love doing (known as a “process”).
Do you enjoy basketball? Hiking? Do you get a thrill out of skiing? Then make that activity an integral part of your life. Make it happen. Make it fun. Build social activities and a sense of community around it. You are FAR better off doing an activity that you enjoy that has positive health benefits than joining a gym and never going. Once you are on track with one habit, (even if it doesn’t feel like a habit, but just allowing yourself to do something you enjoy), you are far more likely to pursue another, because the internal rewards of your first efforts will have already kicked in.
So take a step in the right direction and write down – right now – what physical activities you enjoy doing. Pick one, and get started!
ANDREW DUFFY, FOUNDER OF THRIVESFFITNESS, LEADS THE STAFF OF SB ARCHITECTS’ SAN FRANCISCO OFFICE IN WEEKLY FITNESS CLASSES. ANDREW IS THE FIRM’S FIRST GUEST BLOGGER.