STARTING A NEW WORKOUT PLAN?
Perhaps your company started offering a wellness program and you decided, “Ah, what the heck, might as well try it.” Or maybe you took it upon yourself to buy the Groupon for your local gym… How ever it took shape, congrats on your decision to actually take action! You’ve already succeeded by taking this important step.
Now you’re thinking, everyone seems to be talking about new fitness apps and tracking devices–nike something, fitbit something else…maybe I should buy one?? To that, we’d say, “Sure, go for it.” However, like anything else, it helps to be informed of how these tools work the most effectively to your advantage. Unfortunately, just buying the tools doesn’t ensure usage or results (Case in point: Is that treadmill down in your basement collecting dust??)
So, you ask, what WILL help me to actually USE these tools. Let’s take a step back and look at behavior mechanics. Don’t worry, this won’t feel like Psych class 101 with the Charlie Brown professor.
So, what causes you to behave in a certain way? Consider the Fogg Behavior Model, founded by internationally acclaimed researcher, Dr. B.J. Fogg of the Stanford Persuasive Tech Lab. More info at: www.behaviormodel.org and www.behaviorgrid.org
(See a previous FitBehavior blog post about this model relating to creating a habit of skinny dipping: http://fitafterfifty.com/skinny-dipping-for-31-days/)
B = MAT
Behavior (B) = Motivation (M) Ability (A) Trigger (T)
“You must Trigger the behavior when the person is both Motivated and Able to perform it.”
The specific steps:
1. Boost motivation (if needed).
2. Enhance ability by making the commitment act simple.
3. Issue the trigger when #1 and #2 are in optimal states.
How this relates to you and your quest to get in better shape? It takes more than simply giving yourself the tools: the gym membership, the workout gear, the activity tracking device. You must sustain Motivation and Trigger action.
Let’s start with ‘M’, assuming you already have the Ability. Ideas for boosting your Motivation:
- Introspective time to determine your own ‘why’. WHY do you want to get in better shape? Then, find a visual that represents this ‘WHY’ factor. Perhaps you want to lose weight for an upcoming beach vacation or you want to have more energy to keep up with your kids and/or grandkids. Maybe you just simply want to feel better. Whatever it is, find something visual that represents your ‘why’ and place it where you’ll see it often (at least in the beginning when motivation is less established).
- Journal: This may sound silly, but it’s been proven to work! Document that “feel good” post-workout feeling, or maybe even how you feel the day after a great workout. It’s too easy to rationalize your way out of a workout. Keep that “Feel Good” journal close by to remind yourself of how awesome you will feel. Who doesn’t like feeling good?!
- More documenting: There’s research to show that documenting your results can be a great motivator. For instance, if one day you were able to step up on an 18in. box, and after a few weeks you’re jumping on to the 18in. box, that’s great progress…document it! It feels good to see improvement, and documentation won’t let you forget. (Fit After Fifty would like to caution that “obsessive” documentation of weight can become counter productive if you don’t focus on the TRENDS. Weightloss is rarely a linear process. However, after a few months, you should be able to see a positive trend, which can be highly motivating to continue what you’re doing!).
- FitB Books and Other Motivational Products: There’s something so powerful about seeing other people like you succeed. It provides the hope and confidence, which naturally boosts motivation for you to take action. Check ‘em out!
- Morning workout: Strategically place running shorts and shoes by your bed (or even try sleeping in your workout gear). Place your tracking device or pedometer by your toothbrush so this habit of brushing your teeth is connected to your workout habit.
- After-work workout: Strategically place gym shoes under your desk. Set up a calendar appointment and reminder so that it feels more official, just like any other appointment in your calendar. Maybe even tie in a sound effect to chime when the reminder pops up….over time, you might subconsciously start to connect that noise to “time to sweat!”. (Yes, a bit of Pavlov in action here.)
Trigger: So now that we have boosted the ‘M’ and have the ‘A’, now’s the perfect time to trigger the desired behavior. Examples of triggers:
.For all those Algebra fans in the house, how can you not love this approach to ensuring your workout behavior comes into fruition. Don’t worry, if you despised Alegbra, this is still a great model for you too. When in doubt, keep it simple and accessible. Be honest with yourself and your efforts toward changing your lifestyle. Now is the best time to start!