They say it takes 21 days to form a habit. If that’s the case, then I’m well on my way to having a running habit down at long last! I’ve been running every day for 23 days now. Some days I definitely get farther than others, but I have run every single day.
I’m sure I’m not alone when I tell you that I struggle with creating an exercise habit that actually sticks. I’ll do so well for a week, then one evening I’ll be way too tired or we’ll have a night out on the town… and all of a sudden I’ve skipped a day. Taking an unscheduled “rest day” would be okay if I jumped right back on it the next day, but I don’t. Next thing I know, it’s been three months since I dusted off my running shoes and took them for a stroll.
This time around I was determined to stick with it. I knew that I needed to exercise in order to have more energy and to keep up with baby girl. Plus nothing feels better than right AFTER you finish exercising… it’s just the deciding to exercise and getting out the door part that tripped me up.
But if you stick with the habit long enough, you get past fighting with yourself just to get out there and do it every day and it starts to become routine. When this happens, you learn a couple things about making an exercise habit.
Here’s 5 things I’ve learned from running consistently:
- Make it your goal just to lace up your shoes and run a block. Smaller is definitely better in this case. You don’t have to run a mile every day. Heck, it could be just one block around your house. Or running from your house to the end of the street. Just make it a point to get out there and run every day. The point isn’t to run a marathon, it’s to build a habit. Don’t focus on the distance or the weight. Just focus on doing that thing every day and enjoy it while you do it.
- Earlier is better. The earlier in the day you run, the more likely you are to stick with it. Everyone is tired at the end of the day. Not to mention parties or get togethers can pop up in the evenings, and then before you know it the day is over and you didn’t get a chance to run.
- You can’t outrun what you eat. It’s so tempting to grab an extra slice of cheesecake, or have a burger and fries because, hey, you exercise every day so you deserve it! But unless you’re training for the Olympics, you’re not going to burn off all those delicious extras. On the other hand, eating healthy will give you the energy you need to keep up the habit of exercising! It’s hard going for a run when you’re tank is empty and you’re out of energy.
- You will surprise yourself. I’m not gonna lie, most days I step out that door telling myself “just a block.” And some days it is just a rather slow run around the block. But most days I end up doing much more than that. The hardest part of exercising is starting. After that, you’d be surprised how much you find yourself doing!
- It gets easier… sort of. Yes, 1 lap around the block will get easier. But by then, you’ll be doing half a mile… or a mile with get easier, but then you want to do a mile and a half.
Creating an exercise habit is hard work, but it is so very, very worth it. After just a few days you start to feel better. You’re confidence levels soar, both because of the natural benefits of exercise and because you’re achieving your goals. Then after a few weeks, you start noticing differences in yourself. You feel a little more toned, a little slimmer, a little… sexier! You feel awesome!
I run because I enjoy it, but I know lots of people who don’t. You don’t have to run to make exercise a habit. Choose the form of exercise you enjoy most and go for it!
Have you ever tried to make exercise a habit? What helped you?