was is a nail biter and I remember my mom telling my brother he needed to “stop that habit”.
was am a hang nail picker. I was told that this was my little habit. This “little” habit keeps me from getting manicures because I am embarrassed at the condition my fingers are in… but it’s a nervous habit that has stuck around for 25+ years.
Between my finger picking and these weights, a manicure doesn’t stand a chance! An hour later and my nails look like crap with or without my habit.
Between the two of us, I was under the impression that habits were a bad thing, like a nervous twitch. As I got older, I learned that not all habits are bad.
Case and point: No one would argue that brushing your teeth is bad. Or drinking a glass of water when you first wake up in the morning is bad. Or drinking a protein shake right after a workout… These are all great habits.
Yum… Pina Colada Shake!
Our lives run on habits. How we get ready each day, what we do when we get home from work, etc. Seriously, one ginormous habit.
I’ll tell you another giant habit… a keystone habit!
What the heck is a keystone habit?
It’s a habit that has a trickle down effect.
Keystone habits say that success doesn’t depend on getting every single thing right, but instead relies on identifying a few key priorities and fashioning them into powerful levers. -The Power of Habit
Wow, deep stuff huh?
One habit effects another and then another and then another. There are lots of keystone habits out there but:
The biggest keystone habit that I can think of is exercise.
When you first start to workout, it can take some work to make it fit into your life effortlessly. To be specific, it can take 21 days for it to become a habit. I remember 10 years ago when I started to make exercise a part of my life… I would make every excuse under the sun to avoid doing another workout. And then one day it was as if something changed and I started to make every excuse I could to exercise!
But once it’s implanted into your daily life it’s powers go beyond just sweating in the gym to burn off calories.
Research shows that people who exercise habitually:
- Are more conscious about the foods that they eat
- Are more likely to sleep longer at night
- Start smoking less
- Use credit cards less frequently
- Are more happy in life
- Are harder workers at their job
- Are better in bed and more confident
- And believe it or not this list can go on.
Here’s another fun fact: Dr. Diane Klein researched what motivated exercisers. Those that were new to exercise said common answers like losing weight and improving appearance. But the subjects who had been long term exercisers were more motivated by feeling good and being healthy in general. If they didn’t workout they felt sluggish and like they were “missing something”.
So how can you make exercise your keystone habit to improve not just your body but your life in so many other departments?
Learning to Make Exercise A Habit
- Stop focusing on the other areas.Just focus on making exercise a priority and you might see that the other areas of your life that you know you need to improve on will naturally change.Just check this awesome letter I received today in the mail:
“Taylor, I just wanted to thank you for my first week of training. As hard as working out can be, I have enjoyed every minute of it. I don’t want to eat anything unhealthy after working so hard. Thank you for the motivation and encouragement to have a healthy lifestyle.”
This made my day and I have been smiling from ear to ear like a silly school girl that just found out her crush liked her back. But forget about most of that card, and focus in on the part that talks about not wanting to eat anything bad after a workout!
It’s part of the fitness keystone habit!
- Find something you like to do. If you hate running, then it’s only a matter of days before you give up on it, same goes with all other forms of exercise. If you’re not sure what kind of workouts you like, try a bit of everything. Talk with a personal trainer at the gym to go over what they have to offer.
- Tell someone about your commitment. If you are finally fed up and you’ve told yourself that you’re ready to make a real change in your fitness live, then share it. When others know what you’re aiming for, they will help keep you accountable. If you tell your husband that you are going to exercise 3 days a week, he can ask if you’re sticking to that plan. And no one wants to admit defeat so you will get those days in!
- Make it a priority. Just like you have a work meeting on your calendar or you have to take the kids to soccer practice. On that schedule should also have your workout. If you have to fit it in before work, make it happen. If it is during lunch, make a bagged lunch so you can fit it all in. But no excuses.
- Start slowly. If you haven’t worked out in a bazilion years then it’s not the best idea to jump right into an intense 90 minute spin class or weight training workout. start small and build up. Starting with too much too soon can lower your confidence and be unmotivating. Starting slow means leaving room to quickly progress which makes you feel awesome.
- Celebrate accomplishments. Did you make it to every workout last week? Hell yea! Celebrate, give yourself a pat on the back and simply acknowledge that you did it and are on the track to exercise greatness.
Questions of the Day:
- Would you consider yourself a habitual exerciser?
- What’s the hardest part about keeping to a regular workout schedule?
- What’s your personal habit(s)?