Friday, June 1, 2012

Rules, Ritual and Routine

The three R's to help you stick to your fitness program - Rules, Ritual and Routine

There’s no need to struggle in keeping up a new fitness program. The biggest hurdle was starting (see one of my earlier blog posts on goal setting) so here’s some tips to help you keep going:

Give yourself a rule, something you must do no matter what.  What Bevan James Eyles calls black and white rules: no excuses. For example, I have 2 rules.
Rule 1 - Drink 2 litres of water every day
Rule 2 – I can drink alcohol only after I’ve drunk 2 litres of water

One rule is enough. The rule relates to your heatlh and fitness goals. If you’re quitting smoking then the rule would be to engage in a healthy activity (like taking 10 deep breaths or going for a 10 minute walk) every time you felt like lighting up. If your goal is to manage your weight then your rule would be to record everything you eat and drink in a food diary. If your goal is to run a marathon then your rulewould be to run every day.

Ritual is where you exercise some self discipline.  Something you do regularly and at the same time. Something that relates to your health and fitness goals.

For example, my ritual is to stretch every morning,  what Kit Laughlin taught me as the Daily Six (many years ago).  I’m quite lazy when it comes to flexibility, which I need to improve for running, swimming and power lifts, so this ritual works great for me.

Your ritual will be something that you want to become routine.

Maybe you’ve heard the saying ‘practice makes perfect’ or even of Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 Hour Rule? Repeating an action instils it in you; repeat something often enough it becomes routine.

A routine is simply something you do, like brushing your teeth or washing your hands. Again, it should relate to your health and fitness goals.

My routine is to get up every morning at 5.30am. I had to train for this: The initial RULE was to get up out of bed at 5.30am no matter what (I could always go back to bed if I was overly tired or sick) then; I made it a RITUAL to bounce (be exuberant, like Tigger in Winnie the Pooh) out of bed at 5.30am every morning; so now it’s normal to get up at 5.30am every morning (and be in bed by 9.00pm every night).

Your routine might be to eat breakfast every morning, or go for a morning walk, or to take a half hour lunch break away from your work place, you get the idea.

Next blog post:  The half way point for your New Year’s Resolution