Five Mental Habits that Make Working Out a Routine

"To be successful at anything, you simply have to be what others aren't: consistent." - Anonymous

The most difficult part of working out is arguably not the workout itself, but actually making it routine in your life. The key to consistency is turning something into a habit. A habit is defined as a behavior that is performed repeatedly and automatically with ease.

1. It's Not All Or Nothing - Start Small and Simple

Do not overwhelm yourself with unrealistic expectations or big goals at first. All big goals start small, and get bigger from small but consistent action. A step in the right direction does not have to be big to make a big difference. The key to success is to simply take action. And the best way to get yourself to take action, is to simplify it in order to avoid it being so overwhelming that it's hard to even start. The workout does not have to be too long or intense, you just have to do it. Consistent small workouts are better than working out intensely once, and having that one time drain you so much you don't feel like working out again for several weeks later.

2. Make the Goal the First Step of Your Real Goal

A mind trick you can play on yourself is to tell yourself that you are just going to do one part of the overall action. What that means is that to get yourself in the mood for a workout, simply tell yourself that the goal is to put on your workout clothes or whatever else is the first step of your workout routine. That should be simple enough right? It's much harder to get going if you tell yourself you are going to do a two hour long workout from the get-go, especially if you've had a long day at work or are quite tired. The actual process of changing into your fitness clothes, however, can really put you in the mood for a workout. It is all about mood setting and finding motivation even if you don't think you have it.

3. Focus on the High and Seek that Endorphin Rush

The human mind always likes to chase after and do what stimulates the brain's reward pathway. There's a reason why certain things can become addictive, especially if they bring you pleasure. Turn working out into something that brings happiness and excitement, and you will notice yourself naturally seeking it out. Focus on the feeling you get right after a workout, the endorphin high that really energizes you for the rest of your day. Exercise is one of the best coping tools for stress and we all know it has many healthy benefits. You'll get to see more and more of these benefits over time if you stay consistent.

4. Reward Yourself and Show Yourself Some Love

Set realistic goals and have self compassion. Avoid negative self talk, especially when you are first starting out at something and not very good at it. Always believe in yourself. Be kind to yourself and know that it is all worth it, even if you do not see immediate results. Don't be discouraged if you find that working out is too hard. Just change your mindset, and reward yourself for every little improvement you do make. This brings about positive associations with working out and goes back to the previous mental tricks of taking small steps and finding enjoyment.

5. Create Cues and Develop a Ritual

The hardest part of doing anything is actually turning it into a habit. Once something becomes a habit, it is no longer as difficult but rather something that you do consistently without much resistance or thought. The key is to create a whole ritual surrounding your workout. Add cues to get yourself to start. For example, place your pre-workout in the kitchen beside your breakfast, to give yourself the cue to workout in the morning. If you need to, start by journaling each step you take to remind yourself of what to do. Once you have a routine, it becomes as natural as brushing your teeth. Another trick is to add working out to an existing routine, such as your overall morning routine. Keep track of your progress and you will eventually see a big difference in your life!