We’ve all been there – that time when we find every excuse in the book to skip a workout: “I’m tired, I’m sore, I don’t have time“. Missing one workout a week eventually turns into two and then three, and before you know it, you’re off the wagon completely. The problem though has nothing to do with time or energy. The problem has to do with habits.
The Habit Loop
According to Charles Dughigg, Pulitzer prize-winning reporter and author of The Power of Habit: Why We do What We Do in Life and Business, habits form the basis of how we’re wired. From how you brush your teeth to which shoe you put on first to how you drive a car, almost everything we do is based on habits, including getting your butt to the gym on a consistent basis.
All habits, according to Dughigg, are a loop of three traits: a cue, routine and reward. For example, a cue could be the sight of your gym bag in your car as you leave work, that in turn triggers the routine (e.g. showing up to TruFusion for class), which leads to a reward (like treating yourself to a post-workout drink). Understand, the reward is something kicks in a flood of endorphins after the routine and could be anything from a sense of accomplishment to a piece of chocolate. More about rewards in our next blog.
The (Not So) Simple Answer
So, the simple answer to never missing a workout is to make sure your habit loop is intact. And yes, that’s easier said than done.
The good news is that belonging to TruFusion already sets you up well for success. There’s more research than it’s possible to list in this blog on how participating in group fitness classes helps keep you motivated.
It’s also important to note that repetition is crucial to creating a habit. The more times we complete the loop, the more the habit is ingrained…within reason of course. If you’re new to fitness or coming off a long layoff, it might not be a good idea to work out six days a week, twice a day. Start slow and give your body time to adapt, and try to follow the 2-for-1 format – take one yoga class for every two fitness classes. Getting hurt so that you have no choice but to miss workouts is a surefire way to break the habit loop.
Define Your Goals
These loops (especially in the beginning) are easy to break. The key is to be aware of your loop and ensure you take the right steps to complete it. And that brings us to our next topic. Before we supply you with some tips to strengthen the TruFusion habit so you’ll never miss a workout again, it’s important you define your goals.
You must know where you want this journey to go – visualize the results and come up with a 10-second answer to what you hope to achieve. Be specific. Your goals will serve as a crucial reminder why you’re doing this. Now we can focus on the loop, so working out becomes a strong enough habit it turns into a lifelong pursuit. In our next blog, we’ll provide the steps to make this happen.
Making sure exercise is a strong-enough habit is the way you ensure you never miss a workout again. Let’s get into the nitty-gritty. Follow the seven steps below to toughen up your habit loop.
Make a Plan
When do you plan on making it to class: morning, afternoon, lunchtime? Realistically, how many days a week can you work out? Remember, you don’t have to overdo it – just committing to a few days a week can make all the difference.
Now let’s get more specific. Write out those days and times. Mark them in your calendar. Let everyone know that’s your time and as important as any other part of your day.
Also, build in some flexibility. Life gets in the way sometimes. Come up with a Plan B to make up for that unplanned meeting or unexpected guest in town. Can’t make it to class because of the unexpected? Carve out 15-30 minutes to work out on your own. We mentioned the importance of repetition, but that doesn’t mean you have to go all out seven days a week. Schedule a Yin class, a weekend hike or even a 30-minute walk. The important thing is to make the plan and commit to sticking with it.
Pack a Bag or Lay it Out the Night Before
There’s no better cue than one that’s right in front of your face. Write Post-It notes and place them on the fridge or steering wheel, pack your gym back the night before or lay out your workout clothes so it’s the first thing you see when you wake up. If you take classes after work, place your gym bag in the car, so it stares at you like a neglected puppy as you leave the parking lot. Cues are the crucial catalysts for an effective routine.
Whether you head to class in the morning or after work, eliminate distractions and solidify the routine by heading straight there. Don’t stop and get coffee on the way there. Don’t go home first after work. Simplify the routine and make a b-line to your workout.
Answer to the TruTribe
The cool part about TruFusion is you have built-in accountability partners. Chances are you’ll see the same friendly faces in class on a regular basis. Use this to your advantage. Say hello and exchange contact info. Text or email each other for motivation and to double-check if they’ll be there. Eventually, this will become a more important part of the loop. You’ll crave the social interaction to the point where it will become the best possible reward.
Give Yourself Permission to Half-Ass it (chances are you won’t)
Go easy on yourself and you’ll find it easier to stick to your routine. Some days, yes, you will lack motivation. Making sure the proper cues are in place will help with this problem, but so will the right self-talk. Giving yourself permission to take it easy can be an effective strategy to ensure you maintain the habit loop. Take another class if think your hamstrings can’t handle Tru Kettlebooty that day, or just tell yourself ‘I’ll take it easy’ or ‘I’ll just use a lighter kettlebell’…chances are once you step into class, you won’t.
Make Sure You’re Having Fun
Habit loops are fragile things. If you’re not enjoying what you’re doing or if the same routine is getting stale, then the reward will not have the desired effect. The good news is you belong to TruFusion, where there are more styles of classes than any one human can do at one time. Change it up and try something else if the same routine isn’t cutting it anymore.
Give Yourself a Reward
The reward is the subject that has caused the most controversy when it comes to Duhigg’s idea. His advice in the beginning is to reward yourself with something like chocolate – yes, chocolate. At first, you might wonder if that’s counter-intuitive, giving into gluttonous desires after a healthy pursuit. But he writes that the goal is to “trick your brain” into a better habit and that “studies say that the best way to start an exercise habit is to give yourself a reward that you genuinely enjoy.” He adds that the use of such a reward is only for the short-term, and after a week or so, your brain will “learn that it enjoys the intrinsic reward of exercise.” In other words, exercise– and all its benefits – will serve as the reward over time.
But in the meanwhile, it’s possible you can have your chocolate cake and eat it too.
Written by: Christopher Lewis