Well guys, we have arrived to the final installment of the Total Body Transformation series! If you’re just starting to follow along, be sure to check out the previous posts in this series. It’s good stuff.
In this final installment, we’re going to talk about “making it a habit.” All of the things we’ve talked about are awesome to start doing, but totally useless if you stop doing them. This is probably THE most important step, but unfortunately, it’s constantly overlooked. But we’re better than that, right? Hell yea. Let’s dive into some proven ways to make your fitness plan into something you can practically do in your sleep.
There is tons of research on forming habits and lots of magic numbers. 21 days, 30 days (which is probably just a lazy way of rounding 21 days to a clean month), 66 days, and probably others. I do believe there is some degree of truth to all of these. I mean, it only makes sense that if you take everyone that has successfully changed a habit and average how long it took, you’ll arrive to a number. However, that number is pointless. The important thing is this super deep, complicated fact:
To form a habit you have to keep doing the same thing over and over.
Super deep right? Groundbreaking. Most of us would actually pay money to make this statement more groundbreaking, but it doesn’t really get any more magical. We can, however, get more specific on the best ways to develop a habit. As it relates to any (or all) of the Total Body Transformation series, here are 3 things you can do to make these things happen more consistently.
1. Keep doing it
Studies have shown that specific triggers enable more success with forming habits. You may brush your teeth every night when you’re getting ready for bed. Or buckle your seat belt when you get in the car. Or drink a cup of coffee when you get to work in the morning. The fundamental key to a habit is that it starts to become natural and make logical sense. If we think about the second part of SweshFit where we tracked what we’re currently doing, you might enter your calories into your calorie tracker after every meal. In the third part, where we focused on eating until we’re satisfied, you might make a habit of stopping for 1 minute every time you’re halfway through a meal – just to see whether you’re satisfied. Being consistent about the triggers to enforce different habits is a great way to really form those habits.
2. Bite off what you can chew
Attainable changes are really the only ones that will become a habit. I developed 15 minute workouts with this important concept in mind. 15 minutes is a small enough period of time that almost anyone can start doing today. When starting with a new client, I typically define success as getting that client to exercises consistently, even if for only a few minutes, at least 4 days each and ready to take on more, opposed to an hour each day and quitting after 2 weeks. This is also the reason that programs like P90X and Insanity are not the best solution for everyone. They’re great if you stick to them, but obviously pointless if they just sit on the shelf. You may want to lose 10 pounds in a month, but if you have a really huge chance of quitting (which is true for a lot of people), you should pick a more realistic goal that you can actually maintain. Just be patient and trust that the results will come if you choose something that works for you.
3. Eat the elephant one bite at a time
And speaking of being patient, almost nothing in life comes quickly – otherwise, we would all just make ourselves skinny and rich tomorrow, right? Say the following statement to yourself:
“I’m going to reach my fitness goals, but I’m going to get there very slowly.”
Now you’ve set much more realistic expectations and you’re ready to fight the battle. I’ve experimented with all types of quick diets, hoping to quickly and easily drop weight and develop muscle. So far, the only really effective ones that I’ve discovered are post-breakup depression and food poisoning. (And for obvious reasons, I recommend neither as a deliberate strategy.) However, where I have constantly found success is in realistic expectations that happen slowly over time. I promise you that if we enter an elephant-eating contest and you try to swallow that thing in a few bites, I’ll beat you one bite at a time. It will take forever, but I’m willing to put money on it.
So now it’s time to make your own habit. Here’s a great exercise that you can do today:
- Identify one or more healthy changes that you would like to make. It can be something you’ve already started or a habit that’s currently in progress. Check out the Total Transformation series for ideas.
- Choose a simple action that will get you towards your goal which you can do on a daily basis. What can trigger this change?
- Plan when and where you will do your chosen action. Be consistent: choose a time and place that you encounter every day (or close to every day) of the week.
- Every time you encounter that time and place, do the action.
- Do this anywhere from 21 to 66 days (I mean, all this conflicting research is out there so we might as well use it) and observe yourself making a habit out of it.
And there you have it. We’ve gotten through the 6 step Total Transformation series, and hopefully you’ve gotten something valuable out of this! Just to recap (along with links so you can jump to your favorite), here’s what we covered in this series:
Get Into Your Mind
Track What You’re Doing
Eat Until You’re Satisfied
Attack the Low Hanging Fruit
Make It a Habit
I strongly encourage you to take a look at each of these, even if they seem so basic and even pointless to you. There’s value in each of these steps, and the benefits can be huge. Best of luck on your health and fitness journey!