70 Days to Transformation: Ditch the “New Year, New Me” Myth and Craft Sustainable Habits for Life

Happy New Year to all of the readers out there! Thank you for taking the time to open this blog and hopefully read through it in its entirety. I wanted to start the year off by discussing habit-building and staying consistent. While I do believe it is important to have goals or resolutions for the year for oneself, I almost think it is equally as important to recognize how you are going to maintain good habits and stay consistent throughout the year. For instance, one of my goals is to write one blog per month for our gym, Momentum Fitness Inc. In order to do so, I will need to consistently block off time in my schedule to work on the blog little by little each month. It is not realistic to tell myself that I am going to write the monthly blog all at once or in the span of one day, so I will utilize my calendar and planner and set a deadline for myself in order to stay consistent. Will obstacles occasionally prevent me from sitting and writing on the blog? The answer is always yes. Life happens, and distractions occur. However, the main takeaway from this blog is that even with those distractions or obstacles, you can still persevere and stay consistent when you are thrown off track.

In the first week of January, I attended a coach’s conference to keep up with my CEUs. I love starting out the year with new knowledge and fresh ideas related to my field. As an added bonus, everyone was able to purchase discounted Disney tickets for attending the conference! I am a Disney fanatic and have loved going ever since I was little. I will touch base on how Disney World relates to staying consistent and creating habits later. Since it is very common to begin new habits in January, I decided to do a little experiment while at my conference. While networking, I asked several colleagues about strategies they implemented to stay consistent with their habits. Listed below are the answers that I took note of from each individual that I spoke with:

– Using a calendar app on the phone & color coding meetings, lift times, etc., and using built-in reminders.

⁃ Make it manageable by not doing too much so that you don’t overdo it. This will prevent you from feeling overwhelmed.

⁃ Have a good morning routine, commit to it, and promise yourself. It’s not easy, but just start somewhere, and then mentally, you have to want it.

⁃ Schedule everything and do it so you don’t think about the logistics.

⁃ Journal at the end of the day: the good, bad, and everything in between. This makes the bigger problems seem smaller.

⁃ Be consistent versus doing too much at once. Complete smaller chunks/tasks instead of always having the perfect routine.

⁃ Use a planner for day-to-day. Remember to set small reminders throughout the day to complete tasks because, by the end of the day, you will be too tired to do what you wanted to do

⁃ When lacking consistency and wanting to give up, think or relate back to where you started to find that motivation to keep going.

Most people told me they used a planner, app, or calendar to help keep track of their tasks at hand. Others scheduled out in advance, and some adjusted their schedule based on how busy they are on a day-to-day basis. The moral of this experiment is that there is no right or wrong way to stay consistent, nor only one way. Everyone handles balancing their life, work, and health differently. Try different techniques until you can find one that works best for you and aligns with your needs. Remember, it is not the end of the world if you forget to do something or miss a day; it is how you handle staying consistent after the fact. Many people will give up after not completing something they have planned or set out to do. The key is to power through and focus on the end goal or your why.

One of the speakers at the conference also mentioned and argued about how SMART goals are not actually smart. This contradicts what I have always heard and learned previously, but nonetheless, I was intrigued. WOOP(1) and GROW(2) were his two alternative suggestions for creating goals. You can find links to explore these more at the end of this blog. These were his preferred and recommended choices for setting goals because they included a spot for discussing action steps for when obstacles occur. With any goal, there is no such thing as linear progression. “Progress, not perfection,” has been quoted by several people throughout time, and it is directly related to staying consistent with any new habits you would like to incorporate into your lifestyle. In one research article, the National Library of Medicine states,

“Therefore, it may be helpful to tell patients to expect habit formation (based on daily repetition) to take around ten weeks. Our experience is that people are reassured to learn that doing the behavior gets progressively easier, so they only have to maintain their motivation until the habit forms.” (3)

Seventy days is what it takes to formulate a habit or behavior change! Think about that for a few minutes and give yourself some grace if you have ever started something and then stopped. It is no easy task. Otherwise, everyone would be perfect, and there is no such thing. As a certified caring trainer and fitness professional, it is my duty to inform people of this as they embark on their fitness journey. I tell all of my clients upfront that I will offer the tools and assistance, but they will have to do the work and have to want it. If you are a health professional reading this blog, you should also make it a point to explain to your clients, patients, or athletes the process of what it takes to stay consistent with a new habit. There is no real end goal when it comes to health and fitness. At our gym, we describe and encourage consistently exercising as more of a lifestyle shift that should be continued throughout life to sustain health and optimal overall body function. Once you do it long enough, it should no longer feel like a chore or forced. 

Finally, let’s get back to the magic of Disney World, or what I noticed anyway on a deeper level while enjoying my time at Hollywood Studios. Picture this. You’ve never ridden on the Tower of Terror or the Rockin Rollercoaster; now is your chance. The wait time is going to be 90 minutes, and it is raining. If riding that ride is something you really want to do, aka a habit or goal you want to achieve, are you going to wait in line for it or just give up and walk away and choose something different? Well, your answer depends on the situation. If riding that ride is the task at large and there are no other immediate needs for other things to be done, you wait. You stay in that line until you reach the ride, and then you ride it and experience joy and fulfillment. What do you do next? Find the next most important task, i.e., ride, and once again wait in line, no matter the time it takes, in order to accomplish it. Is the line worth the wait? At Disney, as frustrating as it is, yes, it is. If you stay consistent and patient with yourself at any task in life, eventually, it, too, will be worth the wait!

Remember, consistency is key, not perfection. Building new habits takes time and effort, so celebrate progress, be patient with yourself, and don’t give up. Just like waiting in line for a thrilling Disney ride, staying true to your goals, even when faced with obstacles, will lead to joy and fulfillment in the long run. Find your own system for tracking tasks, scheduling, and staying motivated, and remember, Momentum Fit is here to support you on your journey to a healthier, happier you.

Cortney Welch BS, CSCS
Momentum Fit Inc., Strength and Conditioning Coach/Community Outreach Coordinator

NSCA CSCS Logo to highlight cortney welch's credentials

References:

  1. https://woopmylife.org/en/practice
  1. https://www.performanceconsultants.com/document/The-GROW-Model-infographic-sir-john-whitmore-performance-consultants.pdf
  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3505409/#:~:text=Therefore%2C%20it%20may%20be%20helpful,motivation%20until%20the%20habit%20forms.

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