When it comes to fitness, consistency is the name of the game.
Without consistent behavior in the gym, kitchen, lifestyle, or other areas of fitness, maintaining a stable base in your fitness is similar to building your house on quicksand.
No amount of athletic drills, strength training, or HIIT sprints will ever be able to replace this fundamental concept.
Yet, when it comes to seeing long-term results, scheduling or planning out your fitness habits is overlooked and ignored in pursuit of the next fitness trend.
Again: It doesn’t matter what kind of training you’re doing if you aren’t able to maintain it on a consistent basis.
While the point of this article isn’t to point out which style of training is more effective, it’s useful to note that NO progress will be seen by simply dabbling your toe in the ocean of fitness.
Which brings us back to your schedule and weekly intentions.
Just as you create time for your work, family, hobbies, and meal-times, it’s as important to create time for each fitness habit that is slowly blossoming into a full-fledged fitness lifestyle.
Do not mistake fitness for a short-term fad.
True fitness is cultivated after years of training and maintaining the concepts you’ll review below.
Rather than discourage you, the goal is to EMPOWER you to realize this is a life-long journey that takes time and patience.
Let’s look at how to apply these concepts into one structured action plan.
2. Calendar Scheduling
3. Blocking Time
4. Weekly Review
5. Habit Tracking
6. Support System
As you decide to embark on your first or next fitness adventure, identifying where you want to arrive is a good place to start.
Similar to Luke as he began his journey into the Force or Frodo who started his trek towards finding the Ring, you can choose how you want to reach your fitness goals.
While there are a multitude of paths that can help you reach your goals, it’s useful to review principles based on evidence-based science to help light your way.
By setting your intention on the outcome and end goal, the probability of you reaching your goals rises exponentially.
Define the goal, make sure your methods are based on science, and work towards it consistently.
Once your intention and goals are in place, the next step is to make it real.
If it’s not in your schedule, then it’s not real.
By creating the time each week to work on your fitness habits and sessions, you’ll begin to create the consistency that is often lacking in 9/10 of people’s fitness journeys.
Not to add, you’ll also begin to add more structure to other areas of your life.
Regardless of what time or day you choose to schedule your workouts, meal prepping, shopping, or time you choose to go to bed, the main theme is consistency (again).
Here’s an example of what a structured fitness week looks like:
Monday - Wednesday - Friday: 12-1:30pm Strength Block
Keep things simple. Blocking out time for your fitness isn’t rocket science.
However, as humans we tend to overcomplicate things. Pick the time you want to train. Then, train.
There’s also a recurring feature you can use with Google Calendar which allows you to schedule out events for months in advance or even make it never-ending.
If you’re a fan of color coding, you can also add this feature above to help you clarify each time block that you create.
This can help you remember what each time block signifies more easily.
Rather than focusing on changing all of your fitness habits at once, aim to improve 1 habit at a time.
Focus all your attention on nurturing this new habit, whether it’s training 3 times weekly, adding 2 more days of conditioning work, or improving your protein intake.
Aim to master the habit within 30 days or less. Then, add another habit to master.
Going back to the example schedule above, creating a fitness habit requires time and patience.
However there’s another useful concept you can apply towards scheduling that can make the world of difference.
Time-blocking is the act of blocking out time to work on a specific task.
Like all habits, these things take time to master.
However with time-blocking you can use an interesting concept in human psychology called the Parkinson’s Principle.
Back in the 1950’s, a Navy doctor named Parkinson discovered that human beings have a tendency to work within the allotted time available.
What he found is that if you decided to NOT put a time limit on the amount of time it took you to finish a task, then it could take you forever to finish it.
Think back on every assignment that was due months ahead of time.
Most of us wouldn’t start to work on the assignment until the last week or even the night before.
However, Parkinson also found that when human beings put a limit to their time, by blocking out time with purpose, then they were more likely to accomplish that task.
In other words, setting time blocks not only increases your consistency but also your effectiveness.
Looking at the example again below, you can see that each time block begins with a specific start and end time.
This creates a sense of urgency which propels you forward within your time block and allows you to improve your fitness without giving up your lifestyle.
As you adapt to your new schedule and the use of time blocks, you’ll also find that tasks that may have taken you much longer now get done more quickly.
Again referring Parkinson’s Principle from above, time expands within the time allotted.
Create your time blocks and move forward consistently.
Using this step will allow you to review your progress each week and take note of areas of strength and weaknesses that you encounter throughout your work.
While it can be easy to set up a schedule (or not), understanding when something is working or isn’t working is vital to maintaining a lifestyle and fitness routine that is realistic and you enjoy.
A good recommendation is to start off each week with a time block to check your fitness habits, adherence levels, and overall fitness progress.
This allows you to review your progress and make improvements.
Two key benefits from doing this:
1. You shore up any weaknesses you may encounter in your current weekly schedule and adjust them for the upcoming week.
2. You’re able to take note of areas of strength where you’re doing well and look at how you can apply these same strengths towards your weaknesses.
For example if you find that you’re consistently able to train 4 times weekly in your strength blocks yet find you’re struggling to go to bed on time, it can help to review your success in your training habit versus your sleeping habit.
Take note, review, and adjust each week.
When it comes to habits, there’s a ton of emphasis on the small repetitive things which make up our lives.
To keep it simple, a habit is defined as “a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up”.
Given that fitness habits tend to be extremely difficult to form in the beginning and then slowly become easier as time goes, this definition seems to fit in nicely here.
Getting into a settled practice that is hard to give up, requires all of the components which are being discussed in this article.
It also calls for a certain level of discipline.
This is where habit tracking comes into play.
“What you track becomes real”
For habits, this couldn’t be more true.
Habit tracking does several things which all benefit your fitness and consistency.
1. You build self-efficacy which is your belief that you’re able and capable of doing something by yourself.
2. You cultivate adherence which allows you to stick to your fitness practices even when things get tough.
3. You nurture discipline within yourself as you slowly learn to master your fitness.
4. You start to enjoy the process because hey, tracking CAN become fun after a while.
5. You’re able to see your progress consistently and notice when you’re doing great and not so great.
Habits do take time to develop and maintain.
But the process doesn’t need to be so daunting.
Remember by focusing on one habit at a time, you’ll find more consistency than focusing on 10 different habits.
Simplicity trumps everything.
The last component to help you master your schedule and habits is your support system.
While it’s common in our modern-day world to go at things by ourselves and pretend we don’t need each other, it’s not true.
We do need each other.
As the Dalai Lama kindly reminds us ‘We are all social creatures’.
Supporting each other is what we’re made to do.
Having the right support system in place can also help you nurture your newly developing habits and give you the added boost of motivation when things are a bit rough.
Take Vegan Fitness Redefined Community for example.
Every week, there are weekly check-ins with group members, accountability messages, and wins being shared within a culture of support and growth.
Insights, challenges, and fears are all shared as each person expands their mind to new levels of growth and potential.
There’s also the level of coaching and expertise that goes into a support system as well.
Eventually, as you decide to grow yourself to a new level, finding someone who’s succeeded in your goals, can help shave off years off your learning curve.
Working with a mentor or coach can be the difference-maker from reaching your goals consistently or struggling to maintain new habits for years.
Find or create a support system based on the principles listed here and you’ll find maintaining new habits becomes easier each day.
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