New Year, New Me -- Now What?
The holidays are officially over which means that those New Year's Resolutions are real now. We're a week into 2021, and you may be experiencing success with your new goals or you may be finding it hard to keep up with the plan you set for yourself. At Weighting For Warriors, we believe it's important to keep our community pushing themselves forward and we want to help in any way we can.
You probably know that routines are extremely important for children, but studies have shown that routines are beneficial to adults as well. Setting a schedule for yourself will help you achieve your goals while also lowering stress, increasing productivity, and increasing focus. Especially with so many of us working at home due to COVID, having some kind of routine can propel us to a healthier lifestyle.
But I Like to Be Spontaneous!
We get it, routine isn't for everyone. But hear us out.
Rachel Goldman, a psychologist and clinical assistant professor at the NYU School of Medicine, states "when people don't have a routine or structure to their day it can cause increased stress and anxiety, as well as overwhelming feelings, [and] lack of concentration."
You don't need to have every second of your day planned out to have a "routine." Some people find it more beneficial to create daily/weekly to-do lists instead of planning their day hour by hour. A little bit of structure goes a long way, according to Goldman who says “If people don't have structure and are sitting around with less to focus on, then they also probably will find themselves thinking about the stressful situation more, which can also lead to additional stress and anxiety."
You can also block off a certain amount of time for a hobby or for creativity each day. Creating a list of activities you enjoy doing can help you decide what to do with that time on any given day. This can either be done on a page of your journal or in the notes app on your phone, but should be something you can easily reference.
Your routine may vary day to day, but having certain activities you do each day will help you feel more confident in yourself. Additionally, if you stray from your routine for vacation or another reason, it will be that much easier to resume the routine when you are ready.
Habit vs. Routine
"Implementation of a lifestyle change implies that a routine is followed and habits are formed." - Katherine R. Arlinghaus, MS, RD and Craig A. Johnston, PhD.
Let's quickly clarify the difference between a habit and a routine.
Habits are a response to a cue, such as washing your hands (habit) after going to the bathroom (cue). Routines are not in response to a cue and can take a long time to form. Routines can be comprised of habits or habits can inform a routine.
Many behavioralists estimate that it takes approximately 66 days before habits become automatic. On top of that, physical activity habits take 1.5 times longer to form than other habits. Pulling a bunch of habits into a routine can take even longer. Don't get discouraged if you struggle sticking to your schedule--revamping your lifestyle takes time and effort but is worth it in the end.
It's also important to remember that you don't have to go crazy with the lifestyle changes. Pick goals and habits that are attainable and realistic. If you start small and create new goals as you go, you'll see more progress along the way and the change will feel less daunting. Too much change too quickly can lead to falling back in to old behaviors.
Here's an example of where you can start:
Goal: Get in better physical shape
Exercise at least three days a week
Drink at least 32 ounces of water each day
Cook dinner at least 5 days a week
Attend Weighting For Warriors' Foxtrot Bravo online Zoom Class before work on Mondays and Wednesdays at 7:30AM; train with Samantha privately on Fridays at 7:30 AM
Keep a large water bottle at your work desk
Plan out your meals for the week on Sunday afternoons and buy groceries accordingly
Crafting Your Routine
Whether you want to use an online calendar (like iCloud or Google) or a paper planner, writing out your schedule or to-do list can help you stick to your routine. Pick the method that works best for you. (Samantha lives for Google Calendar, and Ashlyn only functions with a paper planner. She highly recommends Papier if you want a custom planner or TJ Maxx/Michael's/etc. for a basic planner. You can also print off planner pages you can stick in a binder.)
You can make your routine as structured as you want it to be. Keep in mind that objects in motion tend to stay in motion, so if you have multiple goals that involve being outside of your house try to tackle all of them at once in order to resist the temptation of sitting down on the couch and calling it a day.
If you have a smartphone, you can try a habit tracker to help you stay on track while you begin forming your routine.
If you have friends or a partner with similar goals, you can recruit them to be an accountability buddy and schedule times for you to work out together. Instead of going out to eat together, you can cook a meal together or have a grocery shopping date.
It's most important that your routine feels personal to YOU. If you try to follow someone else's routine, you'll most likely find it hard to stick to it. And remember that your routine isn't set in stone--you can adapt it for what you need at any given time.
If you have any questions, please reach out to us and we can help you set goals, form habits, and stick to a routine that will give you results.
If you have any tactics for keeping a routine or any planner suggestions, let us know in the comments below!
(Also if you've read this article and have wondered if a Virgo wrote it, yes she did.)