While I love the fresh start that comes with the New Year it can also be stressful. If you made a resolution maybe you already broke it or maybe you are thinking “&%$#, we are already well into 2020 and I haven’t even started?!” No worries, I am sharing my top tips for creating a new habit and helping it stick, no matter the habit or the month.  

For the sake of clarity, I am going to use starting or restarting an exercise program as the habit but you could honestly replace exercise with any habit you are trying to create (healthy eating, drinking more water, etc) and this system works.   

A habit is defined as a routine of behavior that is repeated regularly and tends to occur subconsciously. I am a firm believer that it takes two solid weeks to create a habit. Depending on the habit, this might be a long two weeks and then considerable work over the following weeks and months to make it subconscious. 

So let’s make that happen….

Dress for Success: This doesn’t mean going out and spending a ton of $$ on workout clothes. If, like me, you need to work out in the morning, set out your clothes the night before so you can roll out of bed and drag them on easily. If you work out after work, make sure your workout bag is packed the night before so it is ready to go.

Make a commitment to get up in the morning and just put on your workout clothes or change into your clothes before leaving the office. It may seem like an insignificant step, but don’t underestimate its power. Maybe you don’t work, out or maybe you do, but at least you took a small step in the right direction.

Ok now that you are dressed……

Just Show Up: Commit to either going to the studio or gym, stepping outside your front door or rolling out your mat. Sometimes just getting into the environment makes taking the next step that much easier.

Ok, you are dressed and at the studio, gym, sidewalk, mat, etc….this is half the battle when it comes to creating a new habit. Now you just have to do the work.

Make the Time: When I first moved to Northern Virginia and was working long hours I realized that after a hard day of work, the last thing I wanted to do was go to the gym.  I feel the same way now that I have kids. Once my kids are up and around my chances of exercising seriously decrease. So, I started getting up early to workout.  By getting up early I know that no matter what happens the rest of the day at least I got in a workout.

On the other hand, I have friends (who perhaps value their sleep more than me) who love booking in an evening Reformer class as a way to unwind after a long day. Whatever works! Different strokes for different folks my friends!

Ask for Help: I find that when I am trying to start something new, or get into a new habit, accountability is key. I have two clients who have been taking a Pilates duet together every week for years. Not only are they committed to their Pilates practice but they are also committed to each other. They don’t want to miss and let the other one down. Plus they have time before and after their session to catch-up each week. Their sessions are some of my favorites because they are constantly encouraging and pushing each other to better.

Help can be in the form of a workout buddy or buddies (like my clients above) or an instructor. Someone who is going to hold you accountable and also shares your similar goals. If you know someone is waiting for you, you are more likely to make it happen so you don’t let them down (or yourself).

Finally, If you don’t know how to get started Ask an Expert. As a Pilates Instructor, I love empowering my clients to reach their goals and stick with them! Let me know how I can help!

Now can you commit to doing this regularly for two weeks? This doesn’t mean doing it every day (unless that is your goal).  If you are committed to working out 1, 2 or 3 days a week, can you do that for two solid weeks?  Your two-week commitment will go a long way towards the formation of your desired habit, and trust me, each time it gets a little easier until it becomes a priority to the point when you will be sorry to miss it.  Lastly, don’t get discouraged if there are setbacks along the way.  Trust me, there will be challenges, so just commit to yourself to keep moving forward, and that will make all the difference.