Creating Habits

We all have habits, whether good or bad.  Some people are more habitual than others, but to an extent most people have a general routine, a set of activities they do every day, or will have a common reaction to different situations.  Take a minute to think about your day today.  Which things did you do just out of habit?  What did you do, but not really think about?  What came second nature to you because you just always do it?  Because here’s the thing:

Bad habits are easy to make, but hard to live with, while good habits are hard to make, but easy to live with.

That’s one of my favorite, motivational quotes, and it makes a lot of sense when you think about it.  And I feel it really applies in all areas of your life, whether it’s your faith, your health, your job, etc.

Bad habits are the habits that are easy to form.  When it comes to your health and fitness, taking the easy road leads to creating bad habits.  It’s easier to sleep in instead of get up early and workout.  It’s easier to just buy take-out instead of cook dinner.  It’s easier to skip the bonus rounds in P90X and go right to the stretch.  It’s easier to give in and have dessert with everyone else.  It’s easier to give in and have a late night snack.  You can see where I’m going with this.  Is it a problem if one of these things happens once?  No, not really.  But when it becomes a pattern, and you’ve built a habit of doing them, then it becomes the norm, and that’s when it is detrimental to your health and fitness.  So these bad habits are easy to make, but they are very hard to live with.  They’re hard to live with, because you’re going to be disappointed in yourself when you don’t see results.  You’ll feel like you’re putting in a good amount of effort, but those bad habits will really hold you back from making progress towards your goals.  And that will be frustrating.  In the moment, it’s easy, but later when you’re analyzing what you’re doing, that’s when it’s going to upset you and make you wish you hadn’t done those things.

In contrast to that, good habits are hard to make, but easy to live with.  It is harder to get up at 5:00 AM in the morning to get my workout in before work.  It is harder to come up with new recipes, make sure I have the ingredients on hand, and have time to cook them.  It is harder finish the workouts completely and not skip anything.  It is harder to resist eating dessert when everyone around you looks like they’re enjoying it.  It’s harder to resist the late night, sweet or salty snack.  But when you consistently do the “harder” thing, then over time it just becomes second nature because you’ve formed a habit.  Getting up early used to be really tough for me, but now I’m so used to it that it’s really no problem at all.  In fact, I enjoy getting up early now.

These good habits that you form are easy to live with, because you know you’ll be doing the right thing and these activities are what is going to lead you to have success.  Doing the harder thing in each moment because you know it’s the right option will give you piece of mind later when you think about your goals and when you reach those goals.  You’re going to see improvements faster and nothing will hold you back from the results you want.  You will be much happier with yourself when you know you’re taking steps to reach your fitness goals.

Creating those good habits will be tough right away, because often times it might not be that appealing to make the tougher decision and do the right thing to help you reach your goals.  But over time, when you continue to make those hard decisions, it keeps getting easier and easier.  It will be less and less appealing to give in to bad foods or be lazy with your workouts.  What I’ve read is a habit takes 21 days to form.  So if it’s something like getting up early to workout before the day starts, you need to do it for 3 straight weeks before it’s really ingrained in you as a habit.  If you can stick with it for those 3 weeks, it should get much easier and be second nature.  So whether it’s your nutrition, your workouts, or your schedule, start making the change today and start forming those good habits.  You will be much happier in the long run, because you’ll find these good habits are easy to live with and will propel you to hit and surpass your goals.

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