How to build better systems for the gym.. and life.
Oh man, working an 8 hour shift then heading out to the gym, or waking up at 5 am to get my pump on!! Seems like a lot.
Why do we suffer through the gruelling grind of it all then? There must be some reason. Someone said it was good for me, Right?
Jokes aside, the gym and movement are an integral part of life and should be a part of any regular routine. But how can I make it easier on myself to motivate and encourage my lazy butt to get off that couch and get into the gym?
We have to make going to the gym a habit. A habit is a set of tendencies or practices that are especially hard to give up. By making a practice a habit, we find motivation, understanding, and benefit from that practice. Of course, there are bad and good habits and bad habits can make the process off going to the gym that much more difficult.
First, the habit and breaking it down. A habit consists of 4 phases. The first is the cue - the moment, place, time, sound, smell, thing, you name it, that triggers the habit. The second is the craving - this is the motivation, the reason you even act on a habit. The third is the response - your habit in action. The fourth is the reward - the end product you get out of the habit.
Let's use watching tv as an example. The cue could be walking in the front door after work. You know you're done the day, you can relax and there happens to be a tv nearby. The craving would be your want to relax; To kick your feet up, not think about anything. The response would be turning the tv on and watching tv and the reward would be endless entertainment that can keep your head occupied until the late hours of the night.
To make the gym more exciting and accessible in times when you feel depleted you have to make the cue visible, the craving attractive, the response easier, and the reward satisfying.
Lets break down different examples of how to make each part it's better self!
Cue - visible:
Have a reoccurring alarm on your work out days
A pre-workout drink in the car
A gym membership toggle on your keys
Your gym on the same route as your place of work
Craving - attractive:
Find a gym crush
Use it to spend time w/ a loved one (gym buddy)
Have a list of benefits you want from the gym
Say reaffirming statements such as "I get to go to the gym" instead of "I have to go to the gym"
Response - easier:
Establish a schedule with times dedicated to the gym
Have your gym bag pre-packed and ready to go
Plan for times in the day when you have the most energy
Have a workout plan for several months in advance
Have a warm-up routine down pat
Reward - satisfying:
Allow yourself a special treat everyday you workout - i.e. treats, time to relax, spending money for items you want
Take progress pictures and see the difference over the months
Note differences in your mood, energy levels, physical strength, and productive output.
Establish small attainable goals bi-monthly, monthly or every 3 months
Now these might not be the factors that increase your own habitual steps, so take time to individualize your own unique steps. Find factors that make you notice, excite, simplify and satisfy your needs. Sometimes it is a game of just getting to the gym and doing the workout, creating a routine through doing.
Knowing exercise and fitness isn't always enough. Be meticulous in your habit and develop . So start building your habits now with these steps.