If you decided to loose 10 pounds within the next 10 weeks, I recommend you develop an individual exercise, diet, stress management/relaxation and mental power plan that suits your preferences, personality and status quo (where you are right now).
Let’s take a new exercise routine as an example on how to establish a new habit. How do you introduce a new exercise habit for better physical fitness?
First of all the new habit has to make sense and be efficient. If it is fun, even better. If your goal is weight loss you will definitely want to do an aerobic workout such as walking, rollerblading, swimming, cycling or slow jogging. In order to get rid of stored fat, workout mostly within a heart rate range that does not exceed 65-75% of 220 minus your age (roughly). For example if you are 40 years old, you would exercise between a heart rate of 65-75% of 180, which is 117-135 beats per minute.
Heart rate ranges tell the body when to switch from carb and protein use and when to stored fat reserves, just as if a car “motor” switches from gasoline to diesel. Attempt to do rather a long moderate exercise instead of high power sprints.
Now comes the psychological part: let’s assume you need at least 200 minutes of walking with the optimal heart rate per week in order to reach your goal—adding more minutes is okay as long as you stay at the slower heart rate. From a psychological perspective, would you prefer fourty minutes 5 times a week or a good hour 3 times a week? Ask yourself what fits your schedule and personality? Do you have a hard time to keeping up with your commitments? If commitment is tough for you, then it might be better to go every day, at the same time, except on weekends, rather than on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The critical commitment moments are the moments when you ask yourself: shall I go today, or switch to tomorrow. Or, it is raining today, tomorrow might be better, etc.. It is important to listen to your psychological responses and select your program according to your personality. “Don’t think, just do it” or, the “every-day but weekends” commitment works for many people wonderfully because once they are on their way, they keep going, they feel good pretty instantly, and their habit is to go no matter what the weather is like.
Be prepared. You are human, and not a machine. Do not allow yourself to judge a “failure” and feel bad about yourself. Instead, have a plan on how you will deal with non-compliance. Follow up the very next day, or perhaps do an extra 30 minutes. Stay in a positive mindset even during a faux-pas (“failure”). This will keep you mentally strong and motivated to continue.
Your success will be determined by your ability to manage your emotional and mental patterns. The days you think: “I just don’t feel like it” or, “I have to be in the office early today” are the days you will need a strategy to stick to your original plan and continue creating your habit. Become creative and flexible. Decide to make your walk a conscious one and check in with your feelings, instead of allowing your emotions to control your decisions. Or, respectively, get up half an hour early and make sure to take pride in yourself for taking such good care of your wellbeing.
Your strategy to deal with the “low” moments, excuses, and lack of motivation, is the key to success! This is when you really start owning your power. With a loving attitude towards yourself you will soon smile at the weak moments, and do it anyway.
Further information such as Personal Coaching by Phone or Skype and inspiration for healthy habits can be found on my personal blog at http://theWalkingGuru.org.
Look for February’s column: What is a SMART goal in respect to Physical Fitness?