Posted on 25 January, 2017

The Secret Hack for Making Exercise a Habit

By Jacob Andreae in Mindset, Mix104.9, Radio Show, Change, How-to, Exercise The Secret Hack for Making Exercise a Habit

[Image source: servingjoy.com]

This week on Balls 'n' All, I spoke about a secret hack you can use to make exercise a habit. I brought up the idea of "swapping instead of stopping", and then went on to talk through a way of changing your morning habits to make room for exercise.

The Secret Hack for Making Exercise a Habit

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Transcribed Text: 

Jackson - A lot of people start the New Year with New Year’s resolutions and all that sort of stuff, but habits aren’t as simple as just going out and doing it. Sometimes it is but a lot of times it isn’t. I read a book called “The Power of Habit” or “The Power of The Habit” something like that, it was a really interesting read. And they seem to elude to that it is very hard just to create a habit *snaps fingers* like that. But you almost have to replace old habits with these new habits. Does that sound about right?

Jacob - Yeah I really like the idea of replacing and I talked about this just recently with my partner at home and we were discussing the fact that you do… Rather than stopping something you need to swap something. So I like the saying ‘swapping instead of stopping’. Because when you do eliminate something it really… it’s almost like saying “Don’t think of a blue tree.” The first thing you do is think of a blue tree. So when you say “I’m not going to do this.” - for example if you’re trying to change a habit in the way you eat, and you drink a lot of coke say for example. When you say “Okay well I’m not going to drink coke anymore.” That’s super hard, all you do is start thinking about coke, “I want coke coke coke.” And um, you know so, when you swap something for something else it just makes it so much easier. And you know, for me coffee is an example of that. Like I can’t drink too much coffee because I’m quite sensitive to caffeine and I get a headache if I don’t have it. So for me if I’m going to have a day off coffee every, what I try and do every 2 weeks now, I have to swap it with something else. So a tea or - which does have some caffeine in it, but not as much, or like a smoothie or something.

Jackson - So Jacob what’s the best way to go about creating new healthy habits? And a lot of people have good intentions but as I said before; with most New Year’s resolutions I think being someone that goes to the gym - you might look at me and think ‘He doesn’t go to the gym’ but I actually go to the gym and -

Jacob - Well I was thinking you do go to the gym because in our Facebook Live broadcast on NT Football Scores and News I was looking at our arm difference and wow, I’ve got some work to do.

Jackson - Awh thanks Jacob but point I was trying to get at here was there’s a massive, massive increase on people at the gym in those early days of January and then it always drops off without fail. And that’s not just people that go to the gym it’s probably people you see going for an evening run or something like that. But how do you get a habit to stick?

Jacob - Well look I’ve been running bootcamps for 5 years, 5 and a half years. I don’t do them anymore I’ve stopped this year for the first time in that 5 and a half years, just because I’m doing other things now. But I saw patterns emerge over that time. And so what I found was people started to be interested in New Year’s resolutions, obviously at the very start of the year, and exercise and fitness is a huge one of them. And so people start to pay attention and start asking the question in the first 2 weeks of January on you know, where to go to exercise and getting help and advice on exercise. In the second 2 weeks of January, so starting now, that really ramps up and then enquiries start to really, really come in. Stuff generally starts around mid January, but what I have found is that the first week in February is when most people want to start. So those enquiries start trickling in for the first 2 weeks of January, really ramp up in the second 2 weeks of January, and people then want to start in the first week of February. And so what we’re going to talk about and actually just a side note to that is: the second most common time to start exercising in Darwin in my experience with those 5 years in the fitness industry was in the build-up. So it was through October, which you would think and this is even outdoor stuff, which you would think would be a time people didn’t want to be outdoors. But it’s the whole: we’ve had a very busy dry season. People have been out and active you know, eating what they want and probably not doing too much exercise, going out to festivals and things like that. There’s so much to do in Darwin at that time of year.

Jackson - Most NTFL Clubs start their preseason in October as well, just a week or 2 before the season starts, true to top end fashion.

Jacob - And they also, it’s a time when people start thinking about wanting to get into good shape for Christmas and you know Casuarina Shopping Centre’s got their Christmas decorations up by then already so the thought’s in the back of the head. But to go back to the habits so, when you’re starting a habit it’s really important that you progress through and you build upon it one step at a time. And so you could go with the technique of just ripping the bandaid off and going and starting a bootcamp in the morning or a gym class at the gym or some group fitness class around the place. On the Monday morning just go with your normal habits, just do what you’re doing until Sunday night, wake up on Monday morning, go and attend. But what often ends up happening is that by lunchtime on that Monday you’re super tired, you’re sore on the Tuesday because you’ve done something different, your body’s sort of responding to that. And then on the Wednesday you’ve then - if you haven’t gone and done something on the Tuesday, which I suggest you do something light, just walk and stretch. But then on the Wednesday when you then back up for your second session because most things are often a Monday, Wednesday, Friday. Then it’s really difficult because now you’ve got that tiredness from - that psychological tiredness from waking up early on Monday but also the physical tiredness from all of a sudden starting exercise and that soreness. So what I like to say is spend a week preparing and creating that habit. So a week before you start on the Monday morning wake up - before you go to bed it’s really important that you create a very good routine for the morning so make it as simple as possible. So have your clothes set out, laid out beside your bed ready to just roll over out of bed and put straight on straight away. And so on Sunday night get those clothes out and anything else you have to do, maybe prepare your lunch for the day or whatever it might be. But then on Monday morning set your alarm to get up at the time you’re going to get up to exercise. So we’re going to talk about exercise in the morning and not exercise in the afternoon in this example. Then on the Monday morning when you do wake up at that time new time, just say it’s at 5:30 AM. And you’re usually getting up at 7 AM which again we talked about last week with sleep that’s another issue.

Jackson - I didn’t know that time existed Jacob.

Jacob - But get up, set your alarm, get up, and then go back to bed. Don’t even do nothing else, just get up at that time. Then on the Tuesday morning do the same thing. So go through your nighttime routine, to prepare yourself well for your morning routine. And then on the Tuesday morning set your alarm to get up at 5:30. Roll over out of bed, put your clothes on and then stand up. Like just actually get out of bed. Then do the same thing on the Wednesday so you build upon that. Wake up at that new time, put your clothes on, go outside into your lounge room or whatever. Leave your bedroom, make sure you physically leave your bedroom but you don’t even need to leave your house or apartment. Then on the Thursday morning do the same thing. Wake up at 5:30, put your clothes on, go outside and actually go outside this time. Go out to your car or if you’re going to go for a run just go outside. And then on the Friday morning drive to your destination. So wake up in the morning at 5:30, put your clothes on, go outside, get in your car and go to wherever it is you’re going to be training. And so then once you’ve done that you’ve then created this new mindset. You’ve created a very good strong morning routine and you’ve sort of subconsciously told your body, and your mind, what is going to happen. So then when you rock up for your first class on the Monday morning that routine is already started to be set.

Jackson - Very, very good stuff, and very practical advice there Jacob.

What tricks do you use to support your early morning exercise habits?

About Jacob Andreae

About Jacob Andreae

I write and speak about Fitness, Nutrition and Mindset. 

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The Secret Hack for Making Exercise a HabitA quick start guide to losing weight and staying on track. Learn the strategies I use to eat and move for optimal health. Includes worksheets to enhance your motivation, commitment and discipline, along with a sample eating plan and exercise program.