The hardest part of making exercise a habit is to actually start exercising. Relying on willpower and motivation is a tactic that is doomed to fail. Habits are actions we carry out regardless of whether we feel motivated or not. Too many times, people look to motivation boards and exercise quotes in order to get themselves into exercising. Here are 6 habits to help you stop depending on people and get you to start exercising while living a life you’ll love.

Habit #1: Make your goals super easy

As you initially start out on this exercise journey, make it a priority to set S.M.A.R.T. goals. These goals are smart, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. Make sure these goals are insanely easy, it’s important to get off to a great start. Treat these initial goals as building blocks. Make these goals as specific as possible, the more definitive the goal, the more likely you are to succeed. So if you want to run in a marathon, but haven’t ran in 3 months, make it a goal to first consistently run a mile a couple times a week.

Habit #2: Start small and build from there

Exercise and lifestyle changes are easier to implement when you take it one step at a time. There’s no shame in starting small, as long as you are moving closer to your goals. People fall into the trap far too often of being overly ambitious with their habits. It’s better to be a master of a couple habits than a jack of all trades who hasn’t fully mastered anything. If you are totally new to exercising, make it a fail proof activity by committing to only 15 minutes three times a week. Fifteen minutes doesn’t seem too daunting and the level of commitment is low, leading to a higher likelihood of success since you have an easy task to start with. Completing this goal of 15 minutes will lead to increased confidence and before you know it, it’s been 30 minutes.

Habit #3: Log and track your habits

You aren’t serious about reaching your goals until you start tracking progress. Logging your workouts is essential because you need to know if you are heading in the right direction or if you need to make some adjustments. How can you know if you’re eating enough or not enough unless you keep a food journal? Tracking your food helps you manage and adjust your portions as needed along with the added benefit of becoming more mindful of what you put in your body. Lastly, take some pictures and measurements monthly for added accountability to stay on track. By taking measurements and tracking your workouts and nutrition, you’re creating a strong system of accountability which further increases your chances for victory.

Habit #4: Find a diet that is easy, sustainable and pleasing to the palate

There’s no need to have a restrictive diet in which all your food is bland and boring. Chicken breasts that taste like rubber while eating a cup of steamed broccoli sounds like torture. For guaranteed nutrition success, choose a way of eating that blends with your lifestyle flawlessly. Fat loss should be easy and not some life-altering event. Include your favorite foods into your diet, no one deserves to go without ice cream.

Habit #5: Pick an exercise plan that fits with your lifestyle

How many days should you workout? How should you be working out? The answers to both of these depend on your individual lifestyle. There’s no need to spend six to seven days at the gym. Fantastic results can happen in as little as three days committing to as little as 30 minutes. If you choose to only lift 3 days a week, full-body workouts are tailor-made for that kind of situation. Remember, exercise fits in with your life, not the other way around.

Habit #6: Find fun ways to stay active

Who says you have to go to a gym in order to exercise? Whether it’s going for a run, going hiking, biking up the countryside, or skipping the elevator and walking up a flight of stairs, there are plenty of ways to stay active and burn calories.   Comment below: What’s the number one way you maintain your exercise habit?

Featured photo credit: david_a_l via flickr.com

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