Exercise: Set Yourself Up for Success
Our current patterns and behaviors were established through repetition until they became “habits” that we do on auto pilot. As we practiced and repeated those behaviors, we created and changed our environment to help us make them easy to do, creating path of least resistance (like having our toothbrush and toothpaste close and handy!).
If we rely only on willpower or motivation, those “muscles” will get fatigued and worn out! However, if we set our environment up to trigger our desired behaviors, we will be able to repeat them easily and practice until we get it hard wired. To make good habits stick or to eliminate bad habits we need to start with our environment. Here’s how:
Make a Plan
Establishing an exercise habit means planning days and times in your week that can be as consistent as possible (like we do with eating, meetings church, etc.). Once you establish these times, create a way to be reminded of them, such as setting an alarm on your phone or putting a meeting on your calendar.
Create a Path of Least Resistance
Create a path of least resistance by setting up your environment for success. Have your gym shoes and clothes laid out and in a visible spot. If going to the gym, place your gear in your car - on the seat next to you instead of in your trunk. If exercising at home, keep your exercise gear in a spot that is visible to make it easy to get on that treadmill, exercise bike, or out for that walk. Also, if you can, set up your equipment in an inviting atmosphere where you will want to be. Integrate these cues into the flow of your day like your morning habits as you get ready for work or your day.
Surround Yourself with Like-minded - or Supportive People
Part of our environment includes our “culture,” so surrounding yourself with a partner or with people who have similar behaviors will lead to success. This is why a lot of people find success going to a fitness facility and being around other people who are exercising. Having a mentor or personal trainer to get you started and hold you accountable is another very beneficial tactic. Joining a group that has in common your values for health and exercise is very effective for success.
To sum up, as you commit to making exercise a regular part of your life, prepare your environment accordingly. Adapt it to trigger and nudge you to your new behavior, surround yourself with people who follow this lifestyle, and success will be yours!
“Environment is the invisible hand that shapes human behavior.” – James Clear (Author Atomic Habits)