Smalls Steps to Build Consistency
Written by Crystal Castellanos
It’s a new year and chances are you’ve thought about or have made resolutions for the year ahead. We ride high on the possibilities of what the new year can bring us, but few of us consider the ways to set ourselves up for success in sticking to our resolutions. So, in the event that you have a desire to improve your physical wellbeing in 2023, I offer a few simple tips that have helped me along my own physical health journey.
First, I invite you to take a moment to sit with your fitness goals. Are you doing this for yourself or are you doing this for others? There’s no right or wrong answer here - this is just information. In my opinion, our ‘Why’ for a goal we want to achieve is always valuable, as it can be a touchstone for when we lose our way.
I have had more success in sticking to my movement practice when the motivation was intrinsically driven. I stuck to my routine because I had chosen to do so for my own wellbeing. Whereas before, when I would choose to workout to gain a bigger bum to impress others, I would stick to the routine for about a couple of weeks and have huge gaps of time before feeling like I needed to get back to it. This back and forth didn’t give me the gains I wanted; instead, it made me more critical and resentful of myself. In retrospect, I would have fared better with sticking to a routine if I had joined a class or group, because it would have taken my mind off the end result and had me enjoying the high of the group atmosphere.
Finding Similar Friends
Several years ago, asking a friend to join me in yoga definitely helped me maintain consistency. I had started practicing yoga for stress relief and had a colleague that expressed wanting to do the same. I invited her to join me once a week for an evening yoga practice. I was grateful to spend more time with her outside of the office, and the side benefit was sticking to my own personal goal of hitting the yoga mat at least once a week.
On top of that, I found that in celebrating each other when we were able to do a certain pose that we couldn’t get into at the beginning of our yoga journey, it really motivated us to continue to stay consistent with our practices beyond our weekly dates.
Set small, attainable goals so you can build consistency.
When I started practicing yoga, I wanted to hit the mat three times a week, ideally. Considering the stress load of my daily life at the time, I wanted to be realistic with my goal and set myself up for success. Instead of setting the goal to pull out my mat three times a week, I set a weekly minimum of once a week. By doing so, I felt more accomplished when I did a vinyasa flow more than once per week, and the more positive I felt, the more momentum I gained to be consistent with my yoga practice.
The other benefit of setting a minimum goal was that I never got down on myself if I only got on the mat once a week. Due to the already full plate I had, I knew I needed flexibility and a bit of breathing room to set myself up on the right foot. Once I met my weekly goal, it became pretty easy to want to get on the mat again; and the more I got on the mat, the better I felt, which in turn, only motivated me more to ground on the mat more consistently.
Before I knew it, I was planting my feet on the mat at least three times a week, and more often than not, was practicing yoga 5-6 days a week. Once I was consistent for about 4-6 months, I shifted my weekly goal to three times a week, and the rest is history.
Be kind to yourself
Whatever physical practice you choose to benefit your wellness this year, I remind you to be compassionate with yourself.
One can not get to the top of a mountain without taking the individual steps needed to get there. Every once in a while, you may step on a patch of cinder that makes your foot slip. It is OK! This is life. When you do slip, I ask you to take a few deep breaths and remember why you chose to set the intention of improving your physical fitness in the first place.
Whether it is because you want fit in the jeans you could easily fit into two years ago, walk a mile without feeling a little loss of breath, or just to feel strong, think about your why and focus on the feelings that you’ll feel when you near the end of the year and have stuck to your intention. At times, focusing on the feelings - and not the end result - of achieving your goal will get your mind out of the low of the inevitable slip. We’re not machines; we’re human.
We will lose motivation and it will be easier to say no to the gym and yes to another episode of our favorite show. Acknowledge and accept that the slip will happen now, and when you find yourself at that point in time, choose to continue on because of your why. Before you know it, you’ll be looking down that metaphorical mountain, amazed at how quick the time went by and how much progress you made with one step at a time!