Aristotle once said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
When it comes to your health and fitness, what do you repeatedly do? Do your daily habits indicate that you are devoted to your health and fitness, or do they tell a different story? When you establish consistency in your workouts and make healthy choices about what you eat and drink, you will see results. Consistency is powerful and it works.
While consistency sounds easy—just make healthy choices regularly—it’s a concept that many people don’t embrace. Let’s take a look at why consistency is difficult for many people, and what steps you can take to become more consistent.
People want a quick fix.
Who doesn’t like instant gratification? It’s human nature to want instant reward—that’s why the thought of having a genie grant you three wishes with the snap of two fingers sounds so appealing—instant wishes fulfilled! Back in the real world, real results come from real work. If you are overweight, it took you some time to put on weight, and it will take you some time to take off the weight. Be okay with that. Don’t expect to get on the scale and be down 10 pounds in a week, like the show The Biggest Loser. (Although I love the show, The Biggest Loser is a controlled environment with trainers 24/7 and it’s a contest for $250,000 ... not a realistic model for what you should try to accomplish at home.) Don’t look at how much weight you have to lose or how far you have to go: Just wake up and ask yourself: What can I do today for my health? And then do it every day. Everyone, regardless of the number on the scale, can make the daily decision to get exercise on the calendar. Schedule it like you would any other appointment.
People want it to be easy.
Let’s face it, you don’t always wake up wanting to conquer the world and participate in a triathlon. Believe me, I totally get it. But the good news is, you don’t have to—you just have to commit to doing SOMETHING regularly. When you don’t want to go to the gym, take a walk or exercise—that’s when you need to do it most! Build up your consistency (mental muscle) when you are feeling weak in resolve. You will train yourself to be more consistent instead of letting your temporary mood decide your health. Commit to the healthy routine you have established for yourself. A great way to avoid skipping workouts is to ask yourself how you will feel afterward. You can feel proud of your dedication and gain the exhilaration of accomplishment, or you can be disappointed and defeated that you skipped, again.
People can justify anything.
Research indicates that people make dozens of justifications for their behavior daily. Maybe you justify not working out today by promising yourself you will start tomorrow or when the weather is nice. Or you justify eating whatever you want because you are going through a rough patch right now. Maybe your justifications are about lack of time—and you use your schedule as an excuse not to exercise or eat right. I understand busy. But what if you prioritized exercise first—before anything else shows up on your calendar? If you approach every day with the decision to get your workout on the schedule and then figure out everything else around it, you will stick to it. I personally have a two day rule, I travel every week so sometimes my schedule messes me up, but I try never to go more than two days in a row without a workout, and it’s a game for me now. I will find a time to work out—even if it means waking up before the sun comes up—because I know how important it is to my daily mood and my long-term health. That’s consistency in action. You, too can choose to be consistent despite your mood, how busy you are, or your travel schedule.
Routine can be boring.
Consistency isn’t the sexiest of concepts. It’s routine. It’s habit. It’s commitment. Working out most days and making the right choices about what you eat isn’t always glamorous—but your results will be. When you are making that daily choice to show up—think of what you will gain. You will enjoy your clothes, the mirror reflection looking back at you or that number on the scale. You will be happy when the doctor says, “Your health numbers look great.” You will get excited when friends and family ask you what you have been doing because you look great and seem to be full of energy. You will gain confidence from consistently making your health a priority—and sending yourself the repeated message that you deserve it!