Forming the Fitness Habit
21 days to Form a Habit?
They say that it takes at least 21 days of consistent action to form a new habit. So, if you want to make fitness a habit in your life, you’ve got to be committed for at least that period of time before the habit becomes just “what you do”.
Many people know about the 21 day theory, but did you also know that if you fail to carry out your habit at any point within those 21 days you have to go right back to the beginning? You can’t just start counting where you left off.
Knowing that fact may be just enough to keep you going through a rough patch and avoid sabotaging your efforts in the early days.
Also, don’t rely on the 21 day rule. You may find that it takes you a bit longer than 21 days to make a fitness program part of your life (21 days is just the average) so you may want to focus on your new habit for 30 days to avoid sabotaging yourself in that doubtful period between 21 and 30 days.
30 Day Fitness Experiment
Any new fitness habit is a good case for a 30 Day trial which personal development writer Steve Pavlina recommends. He likes to try out many new things for length of time and then decide whether they are worth continuing with. (His current 30 day experiment is eating a totally raw food diet).
It’s a helpful concept because it means you can safely give up any habit which does not suit you without feeling like a failure – it was simply the end of the experiment and you decided to try something else instead.
With any new fitness habit or program this makes sense because by the time you get to 30 days you
a) will probably be seeing some results (good or bad)
b) have given it a fair shot
c) are seeing whether the “experiment” will slip easily into your lifestyle.
One Small Fitness Habit at a Time
My other plea is for you to not take on too much and set yourself up for failure. Try a tiny habit at first. Self-discipline is like a muscle that has to be exercised.
Give yourself an easy load to start with – say 10 minutes of exercise a day rather than an all out gym routine 5 times a week. If you have the discipline to manage 10 minutes a day you will probably find that you feel so good you will want to do more. But if you fail at the much harder goal it makes it so much more difficult to try again in the future and your self-esteem will take a bashing it can do without.
Do what you know you will succeed with and build on that.