How to Make Working Out a Lifelong Habit
All my life, I’ve been one of those guys who could never stick to his workout plan.
I’d always start off with plenty of enthusiasm. I’d research the hell out of my workouts, set strict meal plans, have a specific goals of X pounds of muscles within X weeks…
But by week 3, I’d already get bored. Start slacking. And once I miss a workout or cheat on my meal, it was all downhill from there. And yes, this happened many, many times.
Was I just lazy? Did I just not have any self-discipline? At the time, I thought the answer was most definitely “Yes…you just suck at life.”
But let’s fast forward to now. I’ve been working out consistently for the past 2 years. I’ve been eating a healthy paleo/primal diet for the past 8 months. I feel better and look better than I ever have before.
I finally f#%*ng did it! But how? Did I miraculously become a self-disciplined, non-lazy, ass-kicking machine? Hell no.
The only difference is that I changed my reason for working out.
See, back then, the only reason I was working out was so I could look better. So I could finally have a beach body that I wasn’t ashamed of. So I could finally turn some girls’ heads.
But this was a shitty reason for me to stick to my gym schedule day in and day out. Progress was slow (especially after the first few months) so I wouldn’t see the harm in skipping a workout. Or two. Or three…
And “looking better” just wasn’t important enough to me. Let’s face it: working out and eating right is hard work. It takes dedication. Yeah sure, I wanted chiseled abs, but I didn’t want it so badly that I’d sacrifice everything else in my life for it.
But as of 2 years ago, here’s my new reason for working out: to feel better. To have more natural energy throughout my day. To start off my days with a bang and a rush of endorphins. To feel great all the time.
This new reason for working out has changed everything for me.
Now when I hit the gym, I know I’m getting a ton of instant benefits:
- My energy levels shoot up for the rest of the day.
- Higher energy leads directly to me being more productive, creative, and even social.
- Immediately after my workouts I feel an amazing sense of accomplishment and even happiness (thanks endorphins!)
With all that to look forward to, why would I ever want to skip a workout? I actually look forward to them now. Crazy, huh? I never thought I’d be one of those people who say that.
A few other tips that’ve helped me:
- Workout first thing in the morning. Holy shit…this factor alone is changing my life! Working out in the evening when you’re all tired and drained just sucks.
But in the morning? It’s the perfect way to wake you up, boost your energy (better then a cup of coffee), and to start your day off feeling accomplished, energetic, and happy. I honestly can’t recommend it enough.
- Keep your workouts short and intense. No one wants to spend all day at the gym. Make your workouts short, but make them count. If you’re yawning at the gym, you’re doing it wrong. You should be either busting your ass or breathing hard as you recover – nothing in-between.
- Use music to get into the zone, not as a distraction. I recommend listening to high energy house/electro music when working out so you can just get in the zone and really focus on your burn. Music with a lot of lyrics can be distracting and can keep pulling you out of it.
- Workout more frequently. If you only workout 2-3 times a week, it really begins to feel like something you have to go out of your way to do. But if you make exercise a part of your daily routine (at least from Mon. to Fri.), it just becomes something you do without thinking about – like brushing your teeth. Turn it into a habit.
- Pick a routine, any routine, and stick with it. Change it up after 3 months (before you get bored). I honestly don’t think it matters which routine you decide to go with. Just pick a routine and stick to it for a few months. Then switch it up before it bores the shit out of you.
Now I can finally be one of those people who say, “I feel weird when I miss a workout”. Wow. I never thought that’d be me.
Ever since I changed my goal from “looking better” to “feeling better”, not only do I feel on top of the world, but ironically, I also look better then I ever have before.
And I now know that working out and health will be a top priority for the rest of my life.
It feels good to say that. It feels even better to live it.
If you couldn’t tell by the post, I’m definitely on a health kick right now and I’m loving it.
After having a few weeks of booze-fueled, sleep-deprived, New York craziness, my body is screaming at me to start treating it better. And I listened.
So for the month of July, I’m about to attempt the impossible: live a completely healthy lifestyle in New York. I know I can pull it off too.
I’m not doing this for any noble reasons either. Like I said in this post, I just want to have more energy, feel better, and above all…be happier.
So I’m ramping the workouts up to 5 days a week, doing them first thing in the morning, eating all paleo/primal (except for one cheat meal a week), and cutting down on the alcohol.
I’m a week and a half in so far and I feel fucking great. Will keep you updated on how this healthy lifestyle co-exists with the NYC lifestyle, but so far so good.