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Motivation Articles  ›  Staying Motivated

3 Simple Ways to Build Consistency

Because Consistency is the Key to Success!

-- By Dean Anderson, Fitness & Behavior Expert
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In the long run you’ll do better if you acknowledge that the choice is yours to make. You can choose either option, without making excuses or inventing a theory like “lack of motivation” to justify it. Then, pay attention to how you feel about the choice you made, and decide whether that is how you want to feel most of the time.

Being consistent does not mean being perfect. (There are going to be days when you decide to do something other than stick to your exercise and diet routine, and that’s fine.) But becoming consistent does mean giving yourself the power to choose.

Rule #2: Build momentum one step at a time.
It’s never easy to change old habits or start new routines. Studies show that it takes anywhere from 21 to 40 days to really turn a new behavior into a persistent habit. And during that time, you’re going to have to work at it pretty diligently—even when you don’t feel like it.

The key to long term consistency is building momentum. The hardest part is always getting things started. But once you’re moving, staying in motion and picking up speed becomes a lot easier. There are a lot of ways you can gradually build momentum during those first few weeks. Here are some examples:
  • Start with something that’s pretty easy to manage and build up from there. Set a goal of one 10-minute exercise session per week. Then increase it to two 10-minute sessions. Gradually add minutes to each workout (and eventually add one or more additional workouts to your week), until you're exercising as long and as frequently as you should in order to reach your goals. The simple act of setting aside some time for exercise every day, no matter how little, and sticking to it is enough to start building the habit.
  • Find an accountability buddy—someone who knows about your plan and is willing to give you a push when you feel like slacking off.
  • Join a Team or Challenge here at SparkPeople. It’s always harder to let someone else down than it is to let yourself off the hook.
  • Employ an excuse buster. Find a friend, family member, or SparkPeople member whose judgment and opinion you respect. Each time you find yourself thinking about skipping an exercise session or blowing your meal plan, write down the reason for your choice. Share this reason with your excuse buster and get her honest opinion about whether the reason for your choice is reasonable or just an excuse. You’ll probably find that this makes it a lot harder for you to believe your own rationalizations.
Rule #3: Always have a plan B.
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About The Author

Dean Anderson Dean Anderson
Dean Anderson has master's degrees in human services (behavioral psychology/stress management) and liberal studies. His interest in healthy living began at the age of 50 when he confronted his own morbid obesity and health issues. He joined SparkPeople and lost 150 pounds and regained his health. Dean has earned a personal training certification from ACE and received training as a lifestyle and weight management consultant. See all of Dean's articles.

Member Comments

  • I've heard it takes 21 days to form a habit, but I didn't realize it could take up to 40! That's a good fact to keep in mind. Thanks! - 2/16/2014 9:44:54 AM
  • PLIDC1
    A little way into reading this article, I said to myself, "Who wrote this? Coach Dean?" Thank you so very much for saying this in a way I can understand it and believe it and put it into practice! Are you that little fly on the wall? - 1/27/2014 10:39:24 AM
  • JAZZ4200
    This article hit home with me. Consistency is the # 1 reason we win and lose. If you are not consistant you will lose and if you are consistent you will win. When I speak of winning I am talking about with us, not against others. Let say you make a decision to live a healthier life style. This is about you and for you, therefore only you can do it and the way to get it done is being CONSISTANT. - 9/18/2013 8:59:07 AM
  • great article thank you spark people
    - 8/7/2013 10:05:28 AM
  • Great article. I like the plan b. - 7/18/2013 7:38:22 AM
  • Thank you. I always find your articles the best for application and really understanding where my blocks are. - 5/2/2013 11:44:26 PM
  • "You start off the day with the best intentions—to exercise, track all your food, and make healthy choices. But then life happens" This jumped right out at me, so true! - 4/16/2013 9:46:30 PM
  • Great ideas in this article. Very reality based!!! - 1/23/2013 8:57:23 AM
  • I wrote these down and put them inside my kindall, which I take everywhere. They are all good reminders. No matter what ails me I always feel better after a workout. The buddy Idea is one that will really help me because I always do better when I have to be accountable to some one else:O) - 12/4/2012 2:43:00 PM
  • i find the more i do the more i want to do and vice versa. - 10/17/2012 7:52:22 AM
  • that was helpful, Am working on plan B now - 10/10/2012 8:26:57 AM
  • I liked this. The other day I wasn't going to go walking, because my legs were bothering me, so I decided if I could come up with 5 reasons not to go , I wouldn't.I went for my walk and my legs didn't hurt any more by walking, then they did sitting.I actually felt better. - 9/4/2012 7:44:20 PM
  • I think this article could be read and re-read to keep motivated. Everything here is common sense. We sometimes fell like our situation is so unique that no one else has these situations come up. Another suggestion might be to get up half an hour earlier each morning and put on you exercise clothes and start moving. Then, if life gets in the way, you've exercised and started your day feeling more motivated. - 9/4/2012 1:37:42 PM
  • This message really struck a note with me tonight. Thank you for posting it. - 8/6/2012 11:15:42 PM
  • MZASHLEY150
    THIS ARTICLE MAKES THE PERFECT SENSE. - 7/18/2012 11:22:03 PM