January 3, 2010

Stick to a Resolution by Easing Into It

Have you ever made a New Year's resolution to exercise more? Then January 3rd comes and you don't feel like going to the gym or hopping on the treadmill. Then January 4th comes and you had to stay an extra hour at work and have to go to the grocery store that night or you won't have anything to eat that week? Then next thing you know it's January 15th and you've given up on your resolution? I'm sure this sounds familiar to quite a few people out there. I know it does for me.
This year I've decided to focus on 6 habits to change or form in 2010. I talked about these habit changes in my last post here. My very first habit that I'd like to form is the ever popular habit of exercising more often. More specific I want to start to run at least 6 days a week and gradually build up to a goal of completing a marathon. This is a tough habit to form as many know.
The key to starting off on the right foot is to ease into the habit. At the beginning I am all motivated and excited to begin my new habit. For example, on the second day of the year, I was so motivated I really really wanted to run an extra couple miles. However I have made the decision to start out easy. At the start I am focusing on running 6 days a week. The time I run does not matter. I am going to run for a time that seems easy to me. Only 20 minutes. This way I have no excuse not to lace up my shoes and get a short run in.
Why is it a good idea to ease into your new habit or resolution? For one you won't become burned out. At first we are all excited to accomplish our goals. Things go good for a few days. Then our bodies begin to get sore. We begin to come up with excuses like having to run some errands. Next thing we know, we aren't on track any more. Another reason is to keep motivation high. Have you ever been excited about something and held yourself back? What happens? You tend to stay excited. Possibly becoming more excited.
Possibly the most important reason to start out easy is accomplishment. For me the greatest motivating factor is accomplishing something. If I set my goals to high I will become discouraged and fail. However by setting my sites low at the beginning I will easily reach my targets and will keep motivated to reach higher. With the ball rolling and completing my habit daily I will stay motivated.
Gradually I will begin to increase the distance of my runs. Gradually. For now though and for the next few weeks I need to make sure I keep my runs at a level that I can achieve fairly easily. After the habit is formed I can begin to increase my distance.

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