Inspiration is a "nice to have", but it's not critical.
Motivation is the behavioral kick-start that comes from wake-up calls like a diagnosis or a loved one speaking a truth that's hard to hear. But even motivation is optional, for it won't sustain long-term behavior change.
To reach your goals, you need to build habits.
Habits are simply behavioral patterns that are so ingrained that there's no negotiation about whether or not they're necessary to do, like eating lunch or brushing your teeth. You just do it because it's part of life.
In order for fitness or healthy eating to move from motivation to habit, you need to focus on doing small, sustainable actions on a daily basis. You want them to be so small that they aren't something you'll try to get out of, like working out for 3 mins a day, then 4 mins, then 5 (if you're currently doing nothing).
I find that when people are motivated to make a change they try to do too much at once because they want results as fast as possible (I'm totally guilty of this)! But that "all or nothing" approach rarely works, because it's too hard to sustain.
BJ Fogg at Standford University suggests that "tiny habits" are the way to go for long-term success. It's also less stressful/painful to integrate smaller behaviors rather than broad sweeping life changes.
A few ideas for developing tiny habits to build healthy behaviors:
- Going to bed 3 mins earlier every night and working your way up to an hour earlier.
- A 5-minute walk outdoors every day (no matter what) as the first step to a daily workout habit.
- Researching home workout programs for someone who wants to compete in a fitness competition but has no time to go to a gym.
- Switching out sugar with stevia for someone who wants to eventually cut out all added sugar from their diet.
It doesn't really matter what your end behavior is, the key thing is to break the ultimate goal down into the smallest possible step you think you could do without hesitation and do that daily. As this tiny behavior becomes a habit, build on it from there.
Avoid working on more than one behavior at a time.
This rarely tends to end in success. Focus on one single tiny behavior and build once it's well ingrained in your day-to-day life. I know this can seem like it will take forever to get where you want to go, but slow progress tends to get you to your goal faster than a series of fits and starts that don't amount to much in the end. Oh, and it's definitely more effective than not doing anything at all 🙂
Think of one behavior you'd like to change or a big goal you'd like to achieve, like losing 30lbs or running a half marathon. Then break that down into the tiniest habits you can commit to without any issue. If you think it might be hard to do some days of the week, break it down to an even smaller commitment. Then take action daily!!!
Want a deeper dive into mastering your habits so you can live your healthiest, fittest life? Check out my Habit Hacking Guide. It dishes the most impactful habits you can cultivate to lose fat and change your body composition from fat, to fit.
Caren is a certified yoga teacher, fitness instructor and author of The Fit Habit. Here she shares simple, low carb recipes, quick home workout ideas and practical ways to foster mind + body wellness.