Day 23 – Making Your Health a Habit

How do you make fitness a habit in your life? Do you connect a new habit to something that you know you’re going to do, like brushing your teeth, so the new habit becomes an automatic part of your day? For example, do you decide to always take your vitamins right before you brush your teeth in the morning? Or, do you make it a point to always have a workout partner because you know that you will honor your commitment to be there for your friend – even when you might not honor the same commitment if you “only” made it to yourself?

Either way can work, or maybe you have other strategies that have worked well for you. The point is to create habits that keep you moving in the direction of your goals – whether that is to lose weight, gain weight, get stronger, get faster, keep your immune system strong, or to feel ageless, timeless, vibrant, and fit forever. Feeling “motivated” comes and goes. Some days you may be motivated, other days not at all. Creating habits lets you take motivation out of the equation.

Besides, sometimes my best motivator has been pure terror. Here’s how it works:  Step 1 – sign up for an event that I’m not in good enough shape to run. Step 2 – know when I should start getting serious about training, and then wait another month before starting. Step 3 – panic! Start training, over-do it, and stress out about the likelihood of getting injured.

See how this is not a great approach? Now that there is ice in the birdbath every morning and I do not have a big, scary event coming up soon, it is very tempting to skip workouts. Running in the cold is, well, cold. Our weights live in the garage, along with the elliptical machine and a stationary bike. Even in mid-afternoon, it’s cold enough to hang meat in the garage. Those metal hand-weights have morphed into semi-portable hand-freezers. My “get up and go” has got up and went, as a very old saying goes. My motivation levels dropped with the mercury in the outdoor thermometer.

Ah, here is where habit comes to the rescue. My body has become accustomed to being exercised regularly. When I don’t work out, I don’t feel right. There is something missing, like I’m forgetting something. Little aches and pains start to nag me. The body is pushing me to get moving. Yes, I will be getting my workout done today. ChaLEAN Extreme, here I come!

One more note:  Did you know that you can get aches and pains from NOT exercising? True story, if you’re not using your muscles enough, they will start to ache. Boom! One more reason to find time in your day to exercise – to get rid of the aches and pains! Here’s some more info, including references:  http://getfit.jillianmichaels.com/body-aches-not-exercising-1661.html

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