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  • Christine Angelica

How To Make A Lifelong Commitment To Exercise

If you don’t naturally love to exercise, becoming a regular exerciser can take months maybe years.

To create the muscle memory for a habit like this, you have to find intrinsic motivation - which can take time and you have to have a strategy for how you're going to approach the process.

My own path to exercise consistency wasn't a linear one. I would have 10 or so months of being really committed and working out regularly but then something would happen to disrupt my schedule and that would throw me off track. Sometimes it took months before I went back to my routine, and each time, I would promise myself I wouldn’t quit this time. I had at least five or six rounds of that before it became a lifelong habit.

I stopped being a quitter when I started noticing (really noticing) some profound benefits of exercise. I know understand one of the main reasons why it took me so many tries. Initially, I was only exercising to “stay skinny.”

But for our motivation to a habit to become a long-term commitment, you have to place a strong, less external value on it.

Types of motivation

An internal shift needs to first happen. This shift is connecting exercise to an intrinsic value--something beyond the external, such as confidence and strength.

to love the music, the time to yourself, your toned abs and the jealous stares it gets from friends, and the confidence that comes with it all.

The process of change

At first, you will hate to exercise. Then you might reach a stage where you begrudgingly admit that you love the benefits but still hate to "the work" of exercising - getting up early, doing repetitive and boring workouts, for example. And finally, if you stick to it, a day will come when the commitment switch inside your brain flips from Off to On.

It’s never one thing, like being thin, that makes you love to exercise, it’s what it does for your overall life. Being in nature, sleeping, and exercising together gives you a ton of energy all over. So much so that you want to work them into your lifestyle.

1. Find your Whys

Whether it’s exercise or anything else that you want, you have to figure out what’s going to make you commit mentally. You have to, as they say, want it badly enough to find something that’s going to keep you going on the days you want to quit.

2. Work out your resistance

It’s natural to resist change. No one likes it but if you sense that it’s important, remind yourself of what’s on the other side of the hard work and coax your inner toddler into cooperating.

3. Start small

To see fast results, you may be tempted to push yourself but that’s not a good idea when trying to build the exercise habit. You can injure yourself going from zero to an all-out gym rat, and you won’t see drastic results for your drastic efforts. If you do get quick results, it won’t last. The better approach is the slow and steady one. Start small and LEARN the basics. Learn, then practice the basics. Once a habit becomes muscle memory through learning the basics, you can ramp up your speed.

4. Exercise in the morning or by noon

Willpower is a fickle mistress. You have to catch her early in the day if you want to be sure to get what you need from her. Exercising in the morning is better for mental energy and productivity.

5. Do it when you don’t feel like it

Confidence comes from a few things, including having pride in your abilities, and the number one way we develop confidence is to keep our word to ourselves. My conscience is a trash-mouth 6-year-old who will say things like, “Bitch don’t be saying you’re gonna and don’t!”  So I do the important things I promise myself. Every time we flake on our word, we reinforce the idea that we don’t believe in ourselves. We reinforce the idea that “we can’t.”

TIP: On the days when you don’t feel like it, commit to doing even the minimum.

6. Do it as part of a routine

You’ll be more consistent when exercise and working out is part of an overall routine, like your morning routine. Tasks in a routine are like links in a chain. Tasks done inside a routine helps the brain form patterns that it remembers making each link in the chain stronger and become automatic.

7. Do a variety of exercises

The gym is my constant but when the weather is nice, there are several other workouts that I like to do like play tennis, volleyball, hike, run or do yoga on the beach. Switching things up renews my excitement and having variety means I have more options. No matter where I am, what time of year it is, or the weather, I know there is something I can do.

8. Find your fit

For me, finding the right time of day was a huge deal. It made being consistent so much easier. I had tried for years to exercise after work but kept quitting. There was something (many things, really) about going to the gym after work that made it inconvenient for me. For years, my workdays left me stressed and numbed. This meant I had to push myself to go to the gym and I didn’t always manage to. And when one other thing (on top of my sucky job) was going wrong, that was it. I would quit. That all changed when I started getting up at 5:30 and getting to the gym by 6:00 a.m. I did a few other things to tailor my exercise routine to fit me. I made sure when I worked out, the activities I did, my music, who I worked out with, and if I worked out with others, all sync up with my preferences.

Whatever those conditions are for you, figuring them out and setting them up will make it easier to fit exercise into your life.

9. Put it on the calendar

If you don’t see it, you might forget. Putting your workouts on the calendar helps you remember and getting notifications repeatedly can have an effect called classical conditioning. That’s when a cue (in this case, the dings on your phone or calendar) can condition you to perform a certain behavior (in this case, get up and exercise).

10. Have the right attitude about it

You may never become an all-out exercise enthusiast, but I bet you can grow to love it in your own way. You can find the right attitude about it by first appreciating what exercise does for you, then work to find things to love. It’s from appreciation and time invested that love for anything (and for anyone, if you think about it) grows.

So commit to the process of falling in love with exercise and becoming an exerciser. I believe you can and I KNOW that it will transform your mind, your body, and your life if you do.

#createahabit #exercise #habitformation