I’ve been studying behavior lately. Why do we do the things we do? We do we quit when we’re just getting started? Why is it so hard to start in the first place? I’ve discovered that humans, as complicated as we are, are simple creatures. Good and bad behavior, for the most part, seems to come back to conditioning. When you were a baby your parents would smile, laugh, and praise you for speaking simple words. As time went on they would stop praising you for simple words and start praising you for forming sentences. If you said something wrong they would not praise you. This system of reward / no reward (or even punishment) continues throughout your life.
As an adult you probably do not have a parent telling you how to act and rewarding you for working out or changing poor behaviors. This falls on your shoulders. If you would like to change bad habits then you have to be aware of them. Start by tracking the parts of your life that you want to change. Observe them and write down these behaviors in a journal. If you sit on the couch from noon to 3pm every day and want to change this habit then write it down, observe it and acknowledge that you’re doing it. Keep a food journal on a website like My Fitness Pal and find out what isn’t working with your diet.
After a week or two you’ll have enough data to see the problem areas in your life. Set up a couple of short-term goals and a reward system for when you achieve these goals. For example, I diet 6 days per week. If I am able to stick to my diet throughout the week then I reward myself with a cheat day. I try not to overeat but enjoy a couple of junk foods. If I don’t achieve this goal then I have to pass up my cheat day, which is Saturday, and go without those yummy foods.
You can set up a goal to workout 5 days per week for 3 weeks. If you do this then you can reward yourself with a new outfit. There are many ways to reward yourself and only you know what will help you achieve your goals. Tracking your progress along the way is an important tool in the process. Starting a blog, keeping a spreadsheet or simply writing your progress down in a notebook are all excellent ways to stay motivated and keep going.
This week I set my goal to do 130 reps of each exercise daily. I’ve stuck to it doing 130 squats yesterday and 130 sit ups the day before. By setting goals I feel as if I’m back on track even though I never stopped. I simply have a plan laid out and something to work toward. To me, strength and loss of inches are a sufficient reward.
I’d love to hear what your goals are in the comments section!