How to start / restart your fitness journey?

June 1st is just around the corner. It is a new moth, lockdowns are being slowly lifted all around the world and situation regarding the Covid-19 starting to slowly improve. Also some of you will be celebrating Eid in just few days marking the end Ramadan. So the time is just perfect to mentally be ready for new beginnings, goals and changes. So let’s start month of June with the bang! I have listed some information on how to start your fitness and journey and make it a sustainable lifestyle change.

I will show you a strategy called “Four Pillars Of Habits”, this is a method that I always use with most of my clients in order to build a sustainable lifestyle change. But before we get into that lets first ask yourself why you are doing this?

Choose your why

There is no right or wrong answer, so long as it comes from a place of self-love and a genuine desire to do something for yourself, as opposed to external pressures and others’ expectations. 

For example, by trying to lose weight to match social expectations without genuine internal motivation, you aren’t likely to succeed. Instead, you could think of a more practical reason that’s going to significantly improve your life in a certain way – for instance, to feel more “fresh” when you wake up in the morning or simply to look more “like yourself” if you have gained weight due to stress at work and aren’t fully comfortable in your current body. 

Likewise, you may not be as interested in changing your body shape at all, but instead you may want to improve performance-related parameters, being that endurance or strength. In this case, any appearance-related goal is going to be useless. 

Remember, any reason is acceptable, whether it is appearance-driven or health-related, so long as it’s your goal and not someone else’s! Trying to achieve someone else’s ideals is exhausting and usually unsuccessful, so focus on your health and happiness instead. 

Build confidence through action

Self-doubt can be one of the biggest barriers to starting, or re-starting, your fitness journey. If you’ve tried before and experienced a setback, you may feel like you’ve failed. 

The first thing that you need to remember is that you haven’t failed! Fitness is a journey with many twists and turns. Practising gratitude can help you to overcome any self-doubt and focus on the positive action you can take right now.

Four Pillars Of Habits

#1 Foundation

The Foundation is just some baseline things that are going to set you up for success. They are so foundational that you could say, they are requirements for a healthy and productive life.

  • Getting enough sleep
  • Getting enough exercise
  • Creating external order (tidy up!)
  • Managing eating and drinking

These elements are about creating an optimal environment, one that will help you be productive and successful. If you feel like you’ve mastered these Foundation elements, great! If not, don’t worry. It’s more productive to focus on one habit instead of many. Moreover, though, you can use one habit to change and improve other Foundation elements easily.

What is keystone habit? keystone habit is a habit that improves other areas of your life naturally because you are intrinsically motivated and want to support the keystone habit. For example you might want to go to bed earlier today because you want to do well in tomorrows early fitness class.

“When I worked out, I wanted to eat better. Even though I could have rewarded myself with chocolate bars and ice cream, I felt like eating real, healthy foods. I also slept better. And when I was awake, I seemed more productive. Especially in the hour or two after working out, when my mind seemed to think clearer and my writing was crisper. Thoughts flowed easily.” — James Clear

The body craves what you give it and this goes both ways.

If you are having trouble with the Foundation elements, I recommend moving forward with your fitness routine as it may help you with some of the other aspects. Let’s take sleep as an example. We only have so much energy; if you get up early to go the gym, even if you haven’t had a solid seven to eight hours of sleep, you will inevitably be tired that evening. Exhaustion and consistency around bedtimes will help you get into a more regular sleep routine. Maybe your workout will be hard, perhaps you’ll be tired during the day, but these are temporary sacrifices. What you don’t want to do is wait until your sleep improves enough where you can justify going to the gym. If your sleep never gets better, then you never go to the gym.

#2 Accountability

You do better when you know someone’s watching — even if you’re the one doing the watching. — Gretchen Rubin

There are two kinds of accountability, internal and external. Internal accountability is being accountable to oneself. External accountability is being accountable to someone or something else. For many people, especially when it comes to exercise, external accountability is most helpful, but there are ways to do both, listed below.

One of the most popular methods of external accountability is a workout partner or just someone who helps monitor your gym goal. In practice, you can share a workout calendar with a friend who is checking in on you, or use an app to create transparency around your progress with a person or group of people. Working out with a partner is a great incentive to get to the gym — but if you can’t find one, don’t let this stop you from moving forward.

Here are some external and internal accountability methods to consider.

External Accountability Methods

  • Sign up for weekly classes
  • Get a personal trainer
  • Get an accountability partner
  • Get a workout buddy

Internal Accountability Methods

  • Set a specific time based goal
  • Have a clear and specific workout plan that supports your goal
  • Put your gym clothes on as soon as you get out of bed
  • If going to the gym in the evening, pack your gym bag the night before
  • Setup a (healthy) reward system for going to the gym

Hiring a coach is an excellent method of external accountability that can help you with clarifying your goal and setting up a specific workout plan for you. Then, all you have to do is show up and do the work!

#3 Monitoring

Monitoring (or tracking) can be helpful when you’re trying to change or adopt a new habit; it allows you to have real data to understand how you’re doing.

I keep this in mind at all times:

Clarity creates motivation
Tracking creates awareness
Reporting creates accountability

Tracking creates awareness. One genuine experience I observed is when I (for a short time) counted calories. I weighed my food and ate mainly the same thing every day, which made tracking easier. It was part of my health and fitness plan to stay within a specific caloric window each day. When you track at this level of detail, you start to understand how easy it is to overeat or undereat. More importantly, you have excellent data to inform your journey. You don’t need to get this detailed, but there are a few ways you can easily apply monitoring to fitness.

Use the Don’t Break the Chain Method

This method also called the “Seinfield Strategy” is a method where for each day that you work towards a goal or an activity, you mark that day on a physical calendar. It’s a visual habit tracker. People use this method to keep track of stuff that they want to every day (“don’t break the chain”). However, you can easily modify it to suit your needs. If you gym goal is four days a week, just don’t break that chain. It’s a great way to stay motivated and to also celebrate your success, visually!

Fitness Trackers

I love wearing a fitness tracker just to know how many steps I’ve taken during the day. In addition to working out, I have a target of 10k steps per day. Monitoring in this way helps me get up and go for short walks during the day and gives me the data I need to take action.

Other Methods

The method of monitoring you choose depends on your goal. If you want to lose weight, then monitor your weight, if you want to build muscle then monitor that. Some people like to take weekly or monthly photos or keep an exercise journal. Think about what methods will work for you. Also, what a great way to have some internal accountability!

Remember: you can manage what you monitor!

#4 Scheduling

Scheduling is merely putting an activity on your calendar. It has this magical way of making things happen. When something is in your schedule, you’re more likely to do it. Some people are even using calendar instead of to do list.

One of the most common reasons or as I say excuses that people end up sedentary and skip being active is lack of time. I genuinely believe that even in a busy life, one can find the time to exercise. Also, you make time for what’s important to you. If you really can’t find time or energy for a workout then go for a walk outside your house, also especially during this pandemic there are so many home workouts and ideas floating around for example let’s take our June Restart Challenge it is based on bodyweight exercises that require a minimal amount of room and no equipment.

The Power of Yes

When talking about exercise, most people say “I’ll try to do it.” I think that’s a self-defeating way to go about it! Why try to do it, just do it. There is power in saying yes.

Keep Moving

There are opportunities throughout each day to move. Take the stairs, walk up the escalator, go for walks and so on. Look for opportunities in the day to get more steps in and keep moving.

Good luck with your fitness journey and if you need any help we are here to help!

“Every habit has a reward: when our brain starts to anticipate and crave the reward, it makes the behavior automatic”. — Fast Company

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