If you would rather watch a video about it:
Nowadays if I spend a day without exercising, it just makes me think about the benefits that I am missing, things like the boosts in my creativity, the release of stress or the Increase of my energy levels, and don’t even get me started in how it has transformed my body, but honestly 7 years ago I would have never imagined that I would be here today talking to you about fitness.
Maybe because most of my life working out or having a healthy life, was not even a thing for me.
I’ve always been a chubby guy, so obviously, the first thing I tried when I started to think about fitness was to lose my belly fat and especially my chest fat. I remember I tried to go for a run from time to time, play basketball to make it fun, and of course do some abs workout. It didn’t last long.
Then I tried (many times) to lift some weights, since doing that I would be able to get a toner body and hopefully in the process also lose my chest and belly fat. I even did a 3 months program called “Operación cuadritos”/”Operation Abs” in preparation for the summer but again soon enough I got back to not do any workout at all.
I think the reason why I wasn’t able to make it stick was because I didn’t know about the things I’ll share with you today.
But first a disclaimer, I am not a fitness coach nor a professional athlete. I’m just a regular guy, doing regular stuff. Here, I am just sharing my experience about how working really hard, day in and day out, I am and have been able to reach my goals. Let’s continue.
Today I’ll share with you 4 steps I followed to finally make fitness part of my daily routine and the first one was to “discover the why”. As I told you before, at first my reason was specifically to look better. I found out the hard way that for me that was not enough. Looking better won’t make me run that extra mile, looking better won’t give me the motivation I need for the 2 extra repetitions and it wouldn’t either keep me from quitting when it is just super hard.
I remember when I first tried to do a push-up and I couldn’t do even one, but when l looked to my side, I saw my little sister doing several push-ups like it was just a natural thing to do and the feeling of being powerless to do what I wanted, stuck in the back of my head for many years.
In 2014, I decided to not feel powerless anymore and to take control of life in every sense including my body.
Nowadays, working out is just part of my routine just like eating, working, or spending time with family and friends, and it is just because now I don’t do it to get a toner body, I do it because I know it is super important to be able to live happier and hopefully longer and do all the things I love and plan to do.
The second step was to “Make it simple”. What I mean by this is that I needed to create a process that helps me come with the fewer excuses possible.
Something you may do to make it simple, is to choose something that you really like, it being basketball, football, volleyball, tennis, running, bicycle, cross country ski, dancing, chess boxing (yes, that is a sport, do not ask me) whatever it may be but something that you even do just for fun. For me, it was weight lifting.
Another thing is that I needed to plan ahead my workout. I started to decide before coming to the gym what exercises, sets, and repetitions I would do each day. I also started to get my workout clothes ready the night before and picked the nearest gym possible. Again, not giving me a chance to create excuses.
And lastly, start small. In the book The power of less, Leo Babauta says that 5-10 minutes a day is enough to start creating a habit, this way there’s a much lower possibility of making up excuses to not do it and I can assure you that after you create the habit you will feel the need of increasing this time.
The third step was “Set a time”. I’ve tried going to the gym early in the morning and this somewhat works but I am not always a morning person which means that I have skipped it many times just because I wanted to continue sleeping. I’ve tried it during my lunch breaks and also somewhat works but I always felt a bit stressed because I had to hurry back to work and sometimes I wasn’t able to do my workout as planned. I’ve also tried late in the evening and it does not work at all for me, at this time I am completely exhausted from the day and I am not able to do my best at the gym.
What has absolutely worked for me was something that I learned from the book Atomic Habits. There James Clear talks about habit stacking (he also has a blog post about it, that I will leave in the description). There a hire a lot of habits that we take for granted and do not think about them as habits. Let’s take me as an example, after I wake up the first thing I do is to brush my teeth, then I make coffee and then read a book. The way these habits are stacked makes it harder for me to forget to brush my teeth after waking up, for example.
I used this technique and started going to the gym right after work since getting out of the office gives me the perfect trigger to just automatically go to the gym, no excuses.
After you find the time that works best for you, you need to make sure to make it a priority and do not let anything come first. For me, it has been that my chosen time collides with social gatherings and my solution has always been to say “see you after the gym”.
And finally, the fourth step was “the two days rule”. I learned this a year ago from one of my favorite YouTubers Matt D’Avella and it was a game-changer, I’ll leave his video in the description. The two days rule basically says that I cannot skip my workout two days in a row, so if I miss working out today, that means that I must workout tomorrow.
Spending longer times without working out makes it more probable that we lose the habit, so sticking to the rule is crucial. I used to workout weekdays and get weekends off but sometimes I wasn’t able to work out on a Friday meaning that my next workout would be 3 days later and because of this I would lose my habit. With the two days rule is simple, I just need to remember “did I work out yesterday?” If no then I must work out tomorrow, no excuse.
These are the 4 steps that helped me stick to my fitness routine for more than 7 years and counting. Discover the why, make it easy, set a time, and follow the two days rule. Of course, this is not as easy as it sounds, very often life just happens (I get sick, I travel, coronavirus) but the best we can do is to just get back on track as soon as possible, at the end of the day this is a marathon, not a sprint so the important thing is to maintain the habit in the long run.