One Approach to Build a Habit and Why Exercise Should Never be Self Torture

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“If you hate the monotony of running on the treadmill, but drag yourself to the cardio room daily, believing self-torture will eventually become a habit—that’s not heroic; it’s bad design.” (MacLallen, 2017)

So many people initiate health goals by putting themselves on severe diets or exercise regimens believing that in order to see change in their bodies and health they MUST SUFFER. The truth is this approach often leads to failure and long term healthy habits are built gradually. Along with a slow and steady approach one should seek habits that bring themselves pleasure. If you don’t like running, as is my case, explore different cardiovascular activities that you enjoy until you find one that is enjoyable. For me this is anything dance related and cardio kickboxing classes. Also, build your exercise routine gradually. Maybe start with blocking out 2 days of exercise per week for 1 month, then add one extra day per month over the next few months; this will give yourself time to adjust physically and mentally.

A Stanford psychologist and researchers has developed a helpful 3-step method to establish habits:

Fogg Method

  1. What is your desired outcome?
  2. Identify some easily achievable “tiny habits”.
  3. Identify and implement trigger for “tiny habit”.

Read more about Fogg and his approach here.

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