12-Week Guide to Gym

Your workouts can become a habit

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WEEK 4
Before you know it your training sessions will be a part of your life…

Habits are formed by doing the same thing over and over again. The habits you may have formed of working too many hours, getting out of shape, and eating takeaways, didn’t happen because you woke up one day and decided they would be a good idea. They probably became habits because you were tired and pressed for time, so you kept doing these things again and again until you stopped thinking about them anymore.

But the good news is that it is just as easy to form good habits as well. It’s simply a matter of starting to do something you want to do and to keep doing it. You are already well on the road with exercising because you have got this far. It’s now just a matter of keeping it going. The time it takes to form a habit varies from person to person, but one day you will look back and realize you’ve cracked it because you’ll have got out of bed, pulled on your gym kit and headed off for your workout without even thinking about it.
There are a number of things you can to do to ensure you get to that day. Firstly you need to continue to schedule your exercise sessions into your diary or your phone so each one is marked down in the same way as an important appointment.

Don’t be tempted to cancel the session just because someone rings up for a chat or it’s raining and you might get wet on the way to the gym. If this is important to you – and we assume it is or you wouldn’t have got this far – then continue to guard the time you have set aside for your workout as your own (although obviously there will be work and family emergencies that will take priority sometimes).

You can help with this process by looking ahead in the programme and scheduling in sessions for more than one week at a time. Many people who are training for something specific will mark all their sessions into their diary at the start of the programme to help with their planning. In that way if someone e-mails you and asks to meet up a couple of weeks down the line you don’t double book at the expense of your training session.

However, if you do find yourself missing the occasional session don’t let it worry you too much because you have to accept that daily life takes over sometimes. Try to avoid missing too many sessions, though, or the process of creating a habit will be broken.
One of the best things you can do is slot in your session to a time of the day you know you are least likely to be disrupted. Do you have a boss who loves to pile up your desk with paperwork just before noon and wants it sorted out as soon as possible? Then lunchtime sessions probably aren’t the best for you. Three young boys that need getting ready for school? Mornings are no good then. But maybe you always have a couple of hours free after dropping the children off at school? Or you finish work early and have some time to yourself then? Some people like working out early in the morning, others after work and some when the family is tucked up in bed. Find the time that works best for you.

Remember to have some flexibility around changes in your life. If you prefer early-morning sessions but suddenly the boss calls a crack-of-dawn meeting for Wednesdays, then be prepared to shift your session to lunchtime or after work on that day.

One of the best ways to keep going is to find a training buddy. It’s easy enough to wake up, decide you feel tired and go back to sleep instead of the gym when you are training solo. That’s not so easy to do when you have a friend waiting outside to meet you. Training buddies are also great at motivating each other. There will always be days when one of you will be feeling a bit flat – and that’s when a smile and a word of encouragement can come to the rescue.

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