Create healthy living habits from the ground floor up | 21-Day ‘Re’-Bootcamp reprise

Changing our habits around eating and exercise is hard. (If it wasn’t, we’d all be elite athletes with fabulous blood pressure and cholesterol counts…).

So hard, in fact, that there’s an entire sub-discipline of psychology devoted to studying how best to develop new habits (as well as eventually ridding ourselves of the old).

What those studies tell us, in a nutshell, is that we’re doing it all wrong. Making grandiose resolutions, setting unattainable goals and generally, adopting an ‘all or nothing’ mindset. A mindset that ultimately leads to yo-yo dieting, dust-gathering dumbbells, feelings of defeat and often, abandoning those new habits before they’ve had time to become routine.

If you’re looking to increase the chances of making those new health and fitness habits ‘stick’ try the following:

 

1. Choose a single, small habit to adopt.

Practice it daily until it’s no longer a chore. This might take a week. It might take a month. Commit 100% to it’s practice. Remind yourself that you can do anything for a week or two.

Once you’ve mastered it, choose another single, small habit to adopt. The trick is to retain the first habit while cultivating the second. And so on.

Think of each tiny habit as a step on your path to improved health and fitness.

 

2. Associate that habit with contextual cues.

Do it at the same time of day (morning workouts set the stage of healthy decision-making the rest of the day). Or in the same place (create a ‘workout corner’ in your spare bedroom or basement).

Use something to trigger the habit’s occurrence.

For example, set your workout clothes out the night before. Put them on as soon as you get up. The clothes are your contextual reminder to head to the gym.

Leave the blender and the ingredients for your morning green smoothie out, on the counter, where you’ll see them before you’re tempted by the left-over pizza or scones your hubby brought home from the bakery.

 

3. Reward yourself immediately.

Humans are driven by positive rewards. The more immediate the reward, the stronger its effect on the likelihood that you’ll repeat the behaviour. Note that this doesn’t mean you need to buy yourself a pair of Fluevogs every time you successfully hit the gym.

Try creating a ‘star’ chart. Once you’ve earned 10 stars, treat yourself to something special; a book, a manicure, movie night with a friend. Just make sure the reward doesn’t undermine the new habit; i.e. a piece of chocolate cake isn’t a great reward for successfully eating 5 servings of fruit and vegetables 😉

 

4. Regularly reflect on your progress and adjust your approach, if necessary.

For example, if eating 8 servings of fruits and vegetables a day is the habit you’re trying to create, yet after a week or two of practice you only ever manage to eat 5, change your target habit to what you’re capable of repeatedly doing. Chances are those 5 servings are significantly greater than the 1-2 you were eating before.

Scaling back on goals isn’t a sign that you’re weak, merely an indication that you understand you’re more likely to succeed if the goal is small and do-able.

Once you’ve mastered this simplified version of the habit you’ll be ready to tackle a slightly bigger bite.

 

5. Share your practice with others.

Tell people what you’re intending to do and why. Enlist their support. Find an accountability tribe (in real life or online) and check in daily.

Research shows keeping behavioural change a secret significantly reduces the likelihood of the new health and fitness habit ‘sticking’, thereby accounting for the popularity and success rates of group weight loss programs and exercise classes.

These are the exact same approaches I share with my personal training clients and the basic philosophy of my 21-Day ‘Re’-Bootcamp.

Over the past two years, this program has helped hundreds of women jump-start their journeys back to regular exercise and a healthier way of eating. In the words of the participants themselves;

“The 21-Day ‘Re’-Bootcamp was a great kickstart to strength training”

“…it helped me get out of my funk and off the couch”

“My fitness goal was to reduce the pain/weakness I felt getting up and down from the floor with my toddler/baby and have more energy. After only 2 weeks, I was feeling better!”

“I loved how the exercise chunks were small enough to feel doable, even though they were still quite a 15-minute challenge for me at first!”

The 21-Day ‘Re’-Bootcamp has been on hiatus for the summer. In part, because I was out of town on holidays and I like to be around to support my participants.

But also, because the program was ‘stand alone’.

Participants signed up for and executed the program on their own, whenever it suited their schedule.

While this worked well for some individuals, others mentioned that they would clearly have benefited from going through the program with a group of like-minded others. They wanted an accountability group, as described by my point #5 above!

Because September is often a time of ‘starting over’ (all those years of sending kids off to school after summer vacation kind of makes ‘September the new January’…), it seems like the perfect time to update the program and offer a synchronized AND fully supported session of the 21-Day ‘Re’-Bootcamp.

In addition to the 3-weeks worth of habit-building workout and nutrition exercises in the original program, you’ll also have access to a private Facebook accountability and support group. A safe place to ask questions, share challenges and brainstorm solutions with all the other women in the program.

Registration opens later this week. I’ll be sending out invitations with enrolment instructions to my email list first, then sharing on my social channels. Questions? Send me an email and I’m happy to answer!

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