As we roll past days and months and years, we tend to fall into a rut. I have often thought there is something true about Newton’s first law of motion in our behavioural pattern. A body in a state of motion or rest will continue in its state of motion or rest unless acted upon by an external force.

In fitness, curiously enough, this external force is an internal force, which comes from our own awareness. It is neither willpower nor motivation. All it requires is waking up.

When we are in a state of motion, be aware we are moving well, smoothly, happily. When we are physically sluggish, feel the bounce going off our feet as we walk. Be aware of that also.

I have seen several of my trainees, in time, changing their automated habits by just getting to know how to listen to themselves. They become their own coaches, watching what they eat, their physical and mental activity.

Stop relaying on motivation quotes and books to build willpower. Build skills instead. Skills to be alert about yourself, enjoying the process that is involved in getting fit – skills to enjoy exercise and physical activity and skills to plan your day. It all boils down to falling into a healthy daily routine in which exercise is an integral part.

Given the access to the information we have today, I am sure most of us already know what needs to be done to get in shape and stay healthy. There is no lack of motivational videos or books either. Yet, many of us are not able to improve our fitness levels. We all know obese doctors and bankrupt financial advisors. We have to transform knowledge into action, obviously.

Willpower and motivation can get you to go to a gym and do workout for a day or a week, but you need to build skills to develop healthy lifestyle changes to sustain it.

When you try to make a big change in your habits, you are surely tinkering with a behavioural pattern that has become automatic. For example, sitting around at home the whole day on your laptop or watching TV may be a behavioural pattern that has become automatic for you. Simply get up and go for a walk every day for a change. Break it, without making a big deal of it, effortlessly. The bigger the change you’re trying to bring about at one go, the more conflict and strain there will be.

Start Small

Instead of deciding to get on a diet overnight, probably start with adding a salad to your dinner. Stick to this behaviour long enough till it becomes an easy habit. Then add another change. Track

Tracking the changes you are making is the most underrated tool in making long-term lifestyle changes. Track you steps, use a calendar to mark out days you have hit the goals you have set for yourself. Reflect on your compliance. In short, listen and meditate on how you enjoy the progress you are making. Savour it. The Domino-Effect

Small changes when added one over the other will have a domino effect and this will lead to bigger changes. Small changes should not be overlooked- they often have a domino effect. A domino by itself is very small, smaller than a matchbox. But when it comes to forcing, a domino can knock down another piece 1.5X its size. Imagine a long line of dominos placed one after the other, with each one progressively 1.5x larger than the last. If you were to knock down the first two-inch domino, you would set off a chain reaction that would, by the 23rd iteration, produce enough force to knock over a domino as high as the Eiffel Tower. This applies well in terms of behavioural changes as well.

Give Time – Patience is the key

You did not gain weight or lose your fitness overnight. It had taken time. Likewise, you are not going to build habits to stay fit overnight either. Have patience.

Originally published by The Tribune.

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