Three Steps To Make Exercise A Habit


Published: August 26, 2014


S tarting and sticking to a workout program doesn’t have to be rocket science or require herculean discipline. What it takes is making your quest to workout more personal to you by understanding why you are doing it; picking a workout plan that you actually like; and charting the course to do it. The rest of this post will show you how to execute these three steps.

Step One: Understand Why You are Doing It 

The reason why you haven’t been able to stick to a workout program might be because you do not give this step the attention it deserves. Think about the process that you go through each time you don’t succeed at another workout program:

  • First you are super excited about starting,
  • Then you dive in headfirst and start doing the workout
  • Then you miss a day, and one day turns into two, and two days turn into two weeks
  • Then you find yourself looking for the next program.

Knowing why you are embarking on your workout program can help short-circuit this cycle. Here is what this could look like:

  • You are super excited
  • You dive in
  • You miss a day, a day turns into two
  • Before you hit day three you take some time to reflect on why you started this in the first place.
  • You ask yourself, do I still want to achieve this goal? Has my motivation changed?

Knowing why and regularly reflecting on it can keep two missed days from turning into the end of your quest.


Your why doesn’t have to be anything specific, it just has to be meaningful to you. Examples of some of the whys are:

  • I want to fit into my favorite little black dress for my 40th birthday
  • I want to be healthy for when I get pregnant so that it won’t be so hard to lose the baby weight
  • I want to put myself first and making the time to workout will help me feel like I’m putting myself on my priority list

Missing too many workouts will be difficult when you are honest with your motivation.

Step Two: Identify the Types of Activities You Like to Do

Choosing activities that you like will increase the likelihood that you will actually show up and do the workout. You can take different paths to identifying your favorite activities and here are some ideas:

Where you like to workout?

  • Are you an indoor or outdoor type of woman?
  • Do you like to have a place to go to like a gym or a group workout class in the park or would you rather work in the comfort of your own home?

Answering these questions can clue you into the types of workout programs that would work:

  • If you like outdoor, then picking up walking or jogging is a good place to start.
  • If you like indoor and like being around other people a group workout class is worth looking into.
  • And if you would rather workout at home, then you can start hunting for DVDs; you can use the two questions below to evaluate the types of DVDs to look for.
    • Do you want to feel your muscles extending?
    • Do you want to feel your muscles shaking?
    • Do you want to sweat?

How would you like to feel during the workout?

Your answers to these questions can help you determine the best type of workout to choose:

  • If you want to feel your muscles extending, yoga might be your best friend.
  • If you want to feel them shaking, weight training with heavy loads is definitely something to look into and you can start by finding a trainer to teach you how to do it safely and help you stay accountable for the first few sessions.
  • Finally, if all you want is a good old fashioned sweat, then you would want to look into circuit-based resistance training, cardio, or HIIT.

How you would like to feel afterwards?

Some words that come to mind are:

  • Accomplished
  • Relaxed
  • Spent

Think of this feeling as the reward that will keep you coming back to your workout. Here are some examples of how words like these can translate into a workout that you might like:

  • if you want to feel accomplished, setting up weekly challenges to beat your personal best time for running a mile can keep you hitting the treadmill or the trail; this is effective even if all you are trying to do is shave off a second each week
  • If you want to feel relaxed, workouts like yoga or tai chi will be a good fit. They might not be huge calorie burners, but the important thing about working out is staying consistent.
  • Finally if you want to feel spent, then workouts like Crossfit and High Intensity Intervals with your cardio or circuit resistance training are worth looking into.

Step Three: Set a SMART Goal to Add at Least One Activity to Your Schedule

There are many variants of SMART Goals, but I subscribe to the one that stands for Specific, Measurable, Adjustable, Realistic, and Time-Specific when it comes to working out. Your SMART goal allows you to know what you are trying to achieve and also helps you know when you have achieved it.

  • Specific: Be as specific as possible with the type of activity that you choose.
  • Measurable: What you measure depends on why you are doing it in the first place i.e. Step One
  • Adjustable: Making your goal adjustable is critical because you are human and you might have a busy day, knowing your alternative in advance can help you adjust without starting the cycle that we discussed in Step One
  • Realistic: Being realistic is just as crucial as making your goal adjustable. Set your goal in a way that you are stretching yourself to do something that is just beyond your current comfort zone and stretch it even further after you have achieved your first one.
  • Time-Specific: Making your goal time-specific gives you a deadline that you can use to evaluate your performance, and at this point you can choose to set another SMART goal based on how you performed.

Use these three steps to set a SMART goal to help you make working out a habit. You can choose to start with a simple activity such as walking, and as far as you stay consistent you will see results that are in line with why you chose to start working out in the first place.

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About Ejiro Ogenyi

EJ (Ejiroghene) is a Lifestyle Coach and owner of the Team by EJ Ogenyi LLC. She helps busy women lose weight without taking their eyes off their other priorities - their families, their careers, their wallets, and their lives. She is a Certified Personal Trainer and Nutrition Coach and she enjoys bringing her skills and her experience losing weight herself to the awesome task of helping her clients create healthy lives and bodies that they absolutely love. She is also a wife and mama to a beautiful little boy.

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