For about a year I struggled to make my exercise habits stick. I found it a chore to wake up early and was tired after work so I never got around to it. I always had an excuse for not working out: “I’m tired today”, “I have too many things on”, “It’s Friday, give me a break”
That was until I came across a book called The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. The book made it perfectly clear to me why I couldn’t stick to my exercise habit. This is how it broke down the components of any habit:
- Reminder (cue) – the trigger that initiates the behavior
- Routine – the behavior itself; the action you take
- Reward – the benefit you gain from doing the behavior
All I had so far was the exercise routine, not the reminder or reward.
I started with setting a reminder. I found phone reminders naggy and annoying. That didn’t work. Instead I looked at my day and wrote down actions I took without fail that I could use as reminders: waking up, brushing teeth, eating, getting dressed and so on…
The reminder that was the most powerful for me was hunger. I found if I got really hungry I would be motivated to work out (or do anything) just so I can eat. I liked food too much. More than the pain of an intense workout.
And thanks to this new discovery my new habit started to stick. I started consistently exercising every other day. I had all the components of a habit: reminder (hunger), routine (workout) and reward (food).