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Pick up a habit

Getting into a routine can help you attain your wellness goals

  • 19 March 2019
  • Author: Margaretpf
  • Number of views: 1793
Pick up a habit
Want to be more productive, successful and organized? Want less chaos in your life and more Zen? Establishing a routine after you wake up – whether it’s 5 a.m. or 5 p.m. – sets the tone for the rest of your day and can help you feel calm, in control, powerful and more productive.

Successful people like Oprah Winfrey and Bill Gates establish routines so they don’t have to worry about the minutia of daily life. With routines, they can focus their energy on their projects. This explains why Steve Jobs wore the same outfit every day. You may not want to go to that extreme, but you can pare down your choices by sticking to a few key colors.

In her article, “What You Can Learn from The Morning Routines of Super Productive People,” Melody Wilding says when you’re doing things you really want to do, you’re starting your morning with intention. And when you do that, “You can bring your morning ‘wins’ with you into the rest of the day.”

But establishing a healthy routine is something you will only accomplish if you are truly ready and determined to make a change.

Only a fraction of people in the U.S. who make New Year’s resolutions each year manage to keep them. By mid-February, many people whose resolve wasn’t as strong as they thought have been discouraged by the effort it takes to make meaningful changes, subsequently losing their motivation and giving up.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Whether it is a New Year’s resolution you want to keep or are deciding at any other time of the year to head down a better path of wellness, there are actions you can take to turn those changes into habits.

Starting Down a Path
According to Benjamin Gardner, an author and senior lecturer in psychology at King’s College London, habit formation begins when we decide on a new behavior and choose the specific context in which it will occur. In other words: Don’t be vague. Instead of telling yourself you’re going to exercise twice a week, plan to exercise at 5 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Jennifer Muscato
 Jennifer Muscato

Jennifer Muscato, a wellness coordinator with Thompson Health and a personal trainer, likes to keep things specific and simple for herself and her clients. Muscato first began distance running in 2010 as a means to stay inspired and challenge herself.

“Physically, it’s great cardiovascular exercise. Mentally, it clears my mind of clutter,” she says. “There’s something about running outside in nature that’s so therapeutic.”

To keep her joints healthy and stretch more, Muscato wants to incorporate yoga and Pilates into her routine. The key word there is “routine.”

“I researched what types of yoga workouts would work best for me ahead of time, and planned exactly when I’ll do these workouts each week, down to the hour,” she says.

When she first began running, Muscato put her workout clothes near her bed so she’d see them first thing in the morning. That idea developed into a habit, and she has incorporated that habit into all her workouts.

“I try to work out first thing in the morning,” she says. “I find that when I put my workout clothes on right away, even if it’s under my regular clothes, I’m more likely to stick to my workout time because I’ve already eliminated a step.”

Entrepreneur and author James Clear writes about habits and human potential, using science-based ideas as a platform to show how we can live better. Clear claims that creating a visual trigger can help motivate us to perform a habit with more consistency, and consistency is a key to making long-term changes.
Julie Snyder
 Julie Snyder

Julie Snyder knows how powerful that can be. Snyder, an Associate Health nurse at Thompson Health, keeps two jars on her desk. One is labeled “Lost” and contains 50 small glass beads. The other holds 25 beads. Every time she lost a pound through the “Weight Loss at Work” program, she moved a bead to the “Lost” jar.

“It’s exciting because I can see the difference,” she says. “I liked hearing the noise as they moved from one jar to the other.”

To further improve your odds of success, Gardner advocates a “small changes” approach. That’s how Snyder tackled exercise.

“Exercise was my biggest challenge and I decided not to start until I’d lost 25 pounds,” she says.

With access to the cardiac rehab gym at Thompson Hospital, Snyder started by working out on one machine for 20 minutes. She gradually added more time and machines, and now works out for one hour about three times a week.

If you are having trouble finding the intrinsic motivation to get yourself on the right track and create healthy habits, try finding inspiration in external sources.
“My daughter got married last summer,” Snyder says. “I’m hoping to have grandkids one day and want to be able to chase after them.”