We are a month into 2018 and my guess is that if you were to be honest...some of you are falling off your fitness journey with those resolutions. But, you know what? That is OKAY!
Instead of feeling guilt or disappointment, let's shift that energy and begin to cultivate healthy habits that will actually last and feel rewarding.
So how do you begin implementing a habit that lasts? Let’s do a short lesson. It’s all about three steps. These three steps have been named and studied by many psychologists, researchers and professors, but I think my favorite framework I’ve come across is James Clear’s "3 R’s for Habit Change,” because it’s easy to remember.
1. Reminder (the trigger that initiates the behavior) – Triggers give you the impulse to do something and act as little reminders. When you are starting something new, it’s only logical that you have to be more deliberate about taking action.
But, the trick is to build in your reminder into something you are already doing daily.
2. Routine (the behavior itself; the action you take) – When you are determining what new action you are going to take, always start small. If the task seems like a no-brainer and easy, you are starting in the right spot. If it still seems like it’s hard, go smaller.
3. Reward (the benefit you gain from doing the behavior) – The reason we all start new habits is to feel better, right? Well, to keep up your consistency with a habit we need to feel that our actions are rewarded. We know that in the long run we’ll get the health benefits, but you also need to applaud yourself along the way.
Each time you take action tell yourself, “Good job!” or “You rock!” or give yourself a star or checkmark on a calendar to keep yourself accountable and celebrate your progress. You can give yourself a larger reward or treat when you achieve a bigger level of action or have stuck with it for a certain time period. These rewards will enforce that you keep up with the habit for the long-term.
So, let’s put these steps to work and see how we can make some magic happen with a habit that can truly improve your health if done consistently – Meditation.
Meditation is a major game-changer. When I announced to my family that meditation was a new habit I was trying in 2018, they instantly asked if I was going to turn into a “tree-hugger yogi”. Such comedians! But, it’s also a little ironic, as I may have always secretly wanted to be this type of chilled-out, flexible person all my life. Maybe it also explains my love for Bob Marley and reggae music… No problem Mon. (And I’ve never even smoked a puff of Mary Jane in my life. LOL!) Okay, I digress…
The thing is, is that meditation is actually being done these days across the masses and many times by the most successful and influential people in our country, including CEO’s, business leaders, entrepreneurs, musicians, actors, etc. So, I'm thinking they are on to something…
Imagine eliminating your key stressors of the day. Imagine regaining focus and concentration. Imagine finding a calmer and happier you. Allowing time to check in with your inner-self can bring about feelings and confidence you never thought possible!
Now if you are like me and you can barely sit still (except while working endless hours on your laptop) or always feel the need to multi-task, this can be a challenging habit to begin. But, using the three steps above, I’m making it work.
One thing I’ve learned is that meditation can be done anywhere, and it does not have to be a formal, sitting on a pillow on the floor kind of moment. I’ve even found guided meditations that can be done while on a walk or driving when I get stuck in a bind and my schedule doesn’t go as planned.
Following the 3 R’s of Habit Change, this is how I’m implementing my meditation habit:
REMINDER – I determined that eating breakfast was going to be my trigger for this new action. After I finish my breakfast while sitting at the table each day, this is my cue to start my meditation. I’ve now connected the two and it reminds me to take action. You could also use an app reminder or maybe when you sit down at your desk each morning, or after you finish lunch, etc. Just make it something that you already do daily.
ROUTINE – Here’s where the action takes place. I knew I couldn’t force myself to do a 10 or 15-minute session right off the bat, so I started at 1 minute. Yes, ONE! I know it seems silly, but the more comfortable I got with it, the more minutes I’ve added on. I’m now at a cool 5 minutes consistently and sometimes even longer, so YEAH for me!
REWARD – Built into my iphone is the Health app that tracks your activity and mindfulness minutes. I’ve connected all the meditation apps I’m using to this. I tell myself “You did it!” each day I complete my minutes and it is rewarding for me to see a “streak” of progress. The individual apps I use also have their own little rewards built in, as well.
To help myself get more educated and succeed with meditation, I’ve experimented with some YouTubes and all sorts of apps. The first app I started with was Headspace, doing 1 minute breathing. Then I decided I wanted to really learn “how” to meditate and learned about 10% Happier, from the author Dan Harris. I completed the “Basics” sessions as an informative intro as well as the majority of their other free, guided sessions.
Since I am not ready to commit to one app’s annual subscription (that can range from $60-$95/year), I’ve been jumping around a bit, testing several out. I also like Stop, Breathe & Think and Calm as two other options. They both have several free sessions to try with varying time frames. Stop, Breathe & Think will even help you pick out sessions based upon your current feelings/mood. Calm is kind of unique as it has videos of relaxing places like the beach or a mountain lake, as well as calming music and sleep stories.
Lastly, if you are the owner of an Alexa device like us, you can actually enable several guided meditations in her skills, which is also cool. I did one from the Easy Meditation skill just this morning. Just play around and test things out until you find what is most comfortable for you.
Big changes in your life don’t have to come from big actions. Aren’t the little guys always worth rooting for? The simple additions you choose will bring monumental results and rewards along this life-long journey of health and fitness, I promise.
Let’s get Fired Upp!
P.S. If you need help implementing healthy habits, I have the perfect 14-week online program for you! Fit, Fueled and Fired Upp will not only get you on the right track with nutrition and exercise, but it will also simplify the process for you! Let me know if you have any questions.