If you set fitness goals for the summer, don’t let them fall to the wayside as warm weather is replaced with the fall chill. Instead, make them a regular part of your life, so you can stay healthy all year long. To do so, and make a true lifestyle change, there are a few things you need to, including feeding the “habit loop.” Keep reading to make this fall your best one yet.
Feed the Habit Loop
The Habit Loop is a psychological pattern we can use to turn actions, or in this case goals, into habits. Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit, explains this 3-step process:
- Create a cue or trigger that that tells your brain to do the action.
- Do the behavior itself.
- Reward yourself for doing it.
The cue can be an actual trigger, like your alarm going off. Or it could be a time of day—creating a fitness routine, where you run every single day at noon, for example. When determining a reward, remember it doesn’t have to be food or drink. The reward could be a relaxing cool down with your favorite song of the moment or posting a workout photo on Instagram. Get creative to have fun while building the habit that turns into a lifestyle change.
Invest in Tech
Technology is a great way to turn goals into lifestyle changes, using apps and tools to keep you motivated and accountable to health and fitness. Here are a few simple ideas to try:
- Use an app like MyFitnessPal (or one of my other favorite calorie-counting apps) to track everything that goes into your body. Those who logged their food, in a 1,700-person study lost two times as much weight as those who didn’t, making it a great way to get your healthy eating goals to stick.
- Purchase a fitness tracker to use as your trigger or cue. “You can set your tracker to vibrate on your wrist to remind you that you’ve been sitting too long and it is time to get up and move,” says Mandy McClellan, of Fit2Run. Use it as the cue to do your workout, move more during the day—whatever lifestyle change you’re trying to make, your tracker can help you do it.
- When motivation starts to fade, use a personal trainer app to get you moving like you did during the summer. There are tons of fitness apps out there and the fitness app market is one of the fastest growing app segments out there – meaning more new apps are popping up every day. Some apps worth a try are Workout Trainer or Fitstar App, both of which mimic what a personal trainer would do: design workouts and help you stay on track. Fitplan App fits into that same category of personal training apps but what sets it apart is that it gives you the exact training routines of your favorite athletes and fitness influencers. Plus new plans from new trainers are being added each month meaning you will never get bored and can always find that next plan to challenge you!
Build Them Into Your Life
Lifestyle changes that don’t fit into your life will never be reached. We’re busy and overbooked and already try to squeeze more into the day than is often possible—and trying to do a morning workout when you know you hate waking up earlier than you already have to, is never going to work.
Instead, take a look at your life and schedule to turn goals into healthy habits:
When do you already have time to workout? Do you sit in traffic for 45 minutes after work every day? That’s the perfect time to go to the gym. Instead of sitting in traffic, you’ll enjoy a workout and then get home even faster when you’re done.
What foods do you love? Don’t try to make yourself love kale if you don’t. Instead, turn your favorite unhealthy meals into healthy ones. Check out 10 Cooking Tips to Make Your Favorite Foods Healthier, from Eating Well, to make healthy eating an easier lifestyle change.
Your goals are likely specific, I.E. run a 5K or lose 10 pounds. Once you hit your goals, “deconstruct” each one to turn them into habits that you can build into your life. If your summer goal was to compete in your first 5K, your new healthy habit might be, “Run 5K distance three times each week for the month of October.”
Get Your Friends Involved
A workout buddy is the best way to turn summer fitness goals into lifestyle changes. When someone’s counting on you to get to the gym or you have to report your daily calories to a friend, you’re more likely to stick with it. It’s easy for us to make excuses, but friends won’t make excuses for you. “Researchers found that finding a new exercise companion increased the amount of exercise people took. This increased, even more, when the new partner was emotionally supportive,” according to a 2016 study.
Working out or creating healthy habits with a friend also makes staying fit more fun. You can reward one another at big milestones and laugh your way through a crazy workout class.
Fall Into Health and Fitness
Don’t let your summer goals fade away with the sunshine. Instead, use them to make healthy lifestyle changes that help you stay healthy and fit all year long. Remember the habit loop, get your phone setup with the right apps and find someone who wants to make lifestyle changes this fall too.