The Power of Daily Habits

For years one of my New Years’ resolutions was to take fitness seriously. I was a volleyball player for many years and though I considered myself an athlete I fit was not an acronym would describe myself with. Over the years I always had practices and tournaments that kept me playing which helped to maintain my physique but this changed after I retired my sweaty knee pads to go focus on professional development extracurricular activities in college.

There were no more volleyball practices, no more tournaments, and no more accountability. I would motivate myself to go to the gym for a couple of months, then get disappointed when I didn’t reach my goals in the amount of time I set for myself, and then proceeded to give up. This endless cycle continued for about 5 years.

Mr. DMD met while we were in college about 2 years into these 5 years. Even though he also liked to go to the gym and stay healthy we still failed to establish a sustainable routine around exercise. We would motivate each other for a bit, try a new diet or a new workout style until we hit our weight goal for the next vacation but then the all you can eat buffets and pool open bars and would destroy our progress.

The funny part is that we always brought workout clothes to our vacations. We looked forward to waking up early and getting a workout in and we did go to the gym the first morning, we just failed to show up for the following 6 mornings. We then avoided the scale when we returned from vacations afraid to realize the extent of the damage made. Fortunately, the begging of the end of this cycle came in the summer of 2019.

Turning the ship around

I don’t remember an exact thing or moment that motivated me to take action but I remember being tired of feeling uncomfortable in my own body. I had to do something about this soon. Around that time I decided to join a gym about 2 minutes away from my office which offered 45-minute functional training sessions. For this new gym to work for me I could not spend more than 1.5hrs with my commute and training session combined. My previous gym membership failed largely in part to the distance between the gym and my work and how long the full maneuver took-about 2hrs a day.

The membership was a bit expensive (approx. $150/month) but I saw that as a benefit because it would make it more difficult for me to come up with excuses to not show up. I would’ve been way more likely to “skip” a week or two if the membership was $25/month. Now every time I considered skipping a workout session the thought of how much money I would be wasting got me in the mood for a workout.

Another detail about this membership is that I was locked in for a full year. I made this very intentional choice because I wanted to develop a long term daily habit rather than knowing I could cancel anytime. I had to build in accountability from as many aspects as possible.

All of these details combined proved to help me to start showing up and continue to show up. For a full year, I worked out consistently 4 to 5 days a week and made healthier eating choices which resulted in me losing about 40lbs. It took me a year to get there but the consistent sustainable progress is what made the difference for me this time around.

Photo by Kristin Hardwick from StockSnap

Removing the Guard Rails

Over that year I created the habit of exercising almost every day. Over time I started to get excited about the upcoming workout session. That excitement wasn’t necessarily there from day one, which is why being locked in for a full year was a crucial factor for me to stay accountable. Once my contract ended, I stuck around for about 2 months and then decided it was time to remove the guard rails. I needed to see for myself if I could do it alone.

The pandemic allowed me to test my discipline for the last couple of months of the contract. We had transitioned to ZOOM workouts at the time, so deciding between working out or watching TV was a daily struggle for most. But I stuck with it and was more motivated than ever before. I always looked forward to shutting off my laptop and going into my workout at the end of the day. Those 45minutes of butt-kicking took away the stress of the day. I knew I was ready to try this on my own.

You Become Your Habits

It was never my long term play to pay for such an expensive gym forever. I just needed a year-long daily nudge to get me back on track. For me to stay in shape and healthy through the rest of my life I needed to ensure I could do this on my own without relying on a gym or a coach. I wanted fitness to become a habit rather than a hobby.

This last summer our daily routine always included many fitness-related aspects. We’d stretch and do mobility exercises in the morning, then we’d practice our handstands for a couple of minutes to try and have a challenging new thing to learn. Then on the afternoons, we’d have our 45mins workout followed by a 30-minute walk outside. And I looked forward to every one of does activities. Fitness became fun and something to look forward to rather than another item on the to-do list.

Showing Up for Yourself

During that year the narrative of the story I told myself about myself changed. By showing up and getting it done I had convinced myself of being a healthy person rather than considering fitness just a hobby. The power of daily habits should not be underestimated. Daily habits will help you become the best version of yourself. I now consider fitness part of the fabric of who I am and we plan our life around it. Our vacations now contain elements of fitness as the highlight, like going on a bike trail or hiking dunes (coming up!).

Photo by Burst from StockSnap

It doesn’t matter if your goals are related to cutting expenses, reading more, or saving money for travel, the actions you take every day to get you closer to those goals will determine your chance of success. Your daily habits are incredibly powerful when aggregated over long periods of time. The habits you put in place today will determine if you become the best version of yourself during 2021 or if you will carry over your New Year Resolutions for another year. Make 2021 your year!

What are your New Year’s Resolutions? Do you have any tips on how to build long term habits? Which habits can you introduce into your daily routine that will help you achieve your goals? Let us know in the comments below!

*The content posted on this website does not constitute professional financial advice. Please consult a certified financial planner or investment advisor for professional financial advice*

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