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Transforming an Exercise Routine into a Healthy Habit

Janna Seliger
A plan for beginning to exercise with the hopes of making it a permanent habit rather than a temporary fix.
We've all been there: we'll go to the gym for a few days, maybe a week tops, and the next week rolls around and we give in to laziness or exhaustion. We find ourselves disappointed for not going.
Despite all that determination you had in the beginning, you find it difficult to make daily exercise a habit and a priority. What is wrong with these people who are able to run everyday? Why can't I do that too?
The problem isn't motivation or determination. You've probably got plenty of both. The problem is that you didn't keep at it long enough for it to become ingrained in your schedule. It wasn't a habit, but rather a temporary fix. So, how do you make exercise a priority in your life rather than something you do on a whim of inspiration?

Let's break it down into five easy steps, shall we?

Schedule The Time

Take your day and break it into hours on a piece of paper. Now, pencil in your workout time. It's recommended by many experts that you exercise in the morning.
Not only do you burn more calories at that time, but it will energize you for the day. Plus, a bad day at work or an exhausting day at school won't keep you from getting your exercise in if you do it beforehand.

Choose Your Workout

What do you like to do? Whether it's swimming, running, cycling, or lifting weights, find something you enjoy. If doing the same thing daily bores you, do something different every day. Switch it up. Make it fun!

Set Your Goals

What do you want to get out of this? Do you want flat abs, skinnier waist, more muscle and bulk? Whatever it is, write it down. Post a note by your bed with that goal written on it to motivate you to get up in the morning and actually get out the door.

Stick to Your Plan

You wake up one morning and you're feeling a little sleepy. Ooooh, an extra hour of sleep would feel really good right now... That's probably what you're thinking, but you know what else would feel good? Exercise!
Once you decide you're going to do something, stick to it. This will be difficult and don't think that it ever will be easy. If you can make it through the first few weeks then you're fast on your way to making exercise a habit.

Reward Yourself for Good Behavior

Is there a new pair of shoes you've been eying? How about treating yourself to a small piece of your favorite dessert?
It's okay to reward yourself for being good. If it keeps you on track to creating a habit out of exercise, then go for it (as long as it's safe, healthy, and legal!).
What exactly does building a habit do for you? Most importantly, it makes exercise a priority in your life. Just like someone who makes a habit out of drinking coffee, someone who has a habit of exercising won't feel right if they don't get in their daily exercise time.
And think of it this way: what a great thing to become addicted to! Most importantly, try your best. If you fall off track, don't get discouraged. Get right back on track and don't give up!