Make Exercise a Habit in 3 Simple Steps!

by kellylavieri on March 30, 2015

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One statement we hear most often from friends, family, and even ourselves too is “I need to find a way to exercise ”. Most people are looking for a simple way to build exercise in to their lives and create a habit that they can stick too. Research shows EXERCISE is the number one habit on the top of most people’s list of healthy lifestyle change.

However, wanting to make exercise a habit and actually doing it are two different things. Changing your behavior is difficult. Living a new type of lifestyle is challenging. This is especially true when we throw in the very personal feelings about our body image and self-worth.

There are some strategies that can make it easier to start exercising and stick with an exercise habit.

Below are 3 simple steps to build an exercise routine that I use with my clients and recommend to my friends.  While I don’t claim to have all the answers, I’m happy to share what I’ve learned so far when I am trying to start something new. Just a reminder, as I have said often, and is my philosophy about ALL healthy habits, CONSISTENCY OVER PERFECTION!

Most Importantly, STATE YOUR INTENTIONS! During the next week, I will exercise on [DAY] at [TIME OF DAY] at/in [PLACE].

One research study showed that people who filled out a sentence like the one above were 2 to 3 times more likely to exercise over the long run. This is a psychology concept called implementation intention and there are hundreds of studies to back it up.

Here are 3 simple ways to get you started on making exercise a habit.

1. Develop a ritual to make starting easier.

Habits are behaviors that you repeat over and over again,  (like brushing your teeth). In other words, a habit is something you consistently do from day to day without much thought. In many ways, building new habits is simply an exercise in getting started time after time.

This means that if you can find a way to make getting started easier, then you can find a way to make building a habit easier. This is why rituals and routines are so important. If you can develop a ritual that makes starting your workout mindless and automatic, then it will be much easier to follow through.

My ritual for exercise, starts with putting out my workout clothes before I go to bed. This allows me to change in the early morning without waking up my husband with opening up drawers and making noise. Quick and quiet. If your time to exercise would be after work, then develop a RITUAL  of packing your gym bag and putting in the car at night. Then you will never forget your gear that creates a simple step toward successful habit change,your exercise plan .

2. Start with an exercise that is ridiculously easy.

The best way to make exercise a habit is to start with an exercise that is so easy that you can do it even when you are running low on willpower and motivation, which is exhaustible. In the words of Leo Babauta, start with something that is so easy you can’t say no.

Here’s one strategy that you can use in the beginning, by James Clear, the 2-minute rule:

It’s very simple: focus on finding a way to get started in just 2 minutes rather than worrying about your entire workout.

Struggling to find motivation to go for a run? Then go for a walk, start breathing in the clean air and if the spirit moves you, RUN! If not, be thrilled that you are out moving your body. We think that if we don’t do exactly what is prescribed we have failed. Instead, think of the old adage “Something is Better than Nothing” when it comes to creating consistent habit change. The repetitiveness of movement, breeds more movement, because you stretch and breathe and your brain gives off feel good chemicals. Just get started by putting your shoes on!

3. Focus on the habit first and the results later.

The typical approach to diet and exercise is to focus on the end game. Most people start with some type of goal. “I want to lose 20 pounds in the next 4 months.” Or, “I want to squat 50 pounds more six months from now.”

I think this approach puts a lot of stress on achievement. It is better to focus on the process than the end result at first.

What matters most in the beginning is establishing a new normal and building a new routine that you will stick to; so that you will see results. In other words, in the first 6 months it is more important not to miss workouts as the first process. Once consistency becomes a daily habit, then it’s time to think about specifics to progress even further. The ultimate goal is to find the most effective workout that you can do in the shortest amount of time, because honestly, who wants to spend hours in the gym…!

I suggest that you build in a few rules for success, such as:

  • Put on Workout Gear first (if possible)
  • 45 minute Max (cardio and strength)
  • 2 to 3 days a week (consistently)

Once you build the habit of exercise, you can find thousands of ways to improve. Without the habit, every strategy is useless.

Results come from consistently applying the attitude and implementing the exercise to success. Take the 3 simple steps daily toward better healthy, happy habit change.


Helping you live your live better, daily!

Kelly 🙂


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