Motivation Articles

3 Simple Ways to Build Consistency

Because Consistency is the Key to Success!

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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

  • Great article with real and helpful actions to take. I like that it was problem solving rather than judging. I struggle with Consistency and think this will help. Thank you! - 1/14/2016 10:25:25 AM
  • Sometimes I feel stuck and so I don't do anything. The idea that this just means that I want two different and opposing things - not that I am lazy, or unmotivated, or don't know what to do - really hit home for me. - 1/13/2016 6:41:14 PM
  • FULLYKAT
    I am feeling very motivated and supported by the 30 day checkins. - 1/13/2016 11:54:33 AM
  • KLEMIE
    This article came at the right time. I'm doing this with my daughter, who lives in another state. We keep each other motivated. She keeps me going. - 1/13/2016 11:19:23 AM
  • VAGIRL4
    This makes since. Now that I have these tools I can get moving like I should be. - 1/13/2016 10:24:02 AM
  • I never thought about me saying that "I'm not motivated" was just an excuse, but it's so true! I need to remember this article for the next time I'm not wanting to do something and realize that I have a choice, either the healthy choice, or the unhealthy one! - 1/2/2016 8:05:22 PM
  • Love that this reminded me that I have a choice. It i not lack of will power or motivation it i simply wanting one thing more than another at that moment. - 10/9/2015 8:39:07 AM
  • Need to have a plan B - some mornings I am just not motivated unless I have some place to go. - 10/8/2015 6:56:24 PM
  • HAIRYPRARIE
    Great article. Thank you. - 9/20/2015 8:17:09 PM
  • NONY1951
    very interesting articles and SPOT ON! - 7/22/2015 9:20:09 AM
  • Will work on a plan b, great tip thank you. - 5/25/2015 12:41:11 AM
  • Thank you--- Thank you, Coach Dean Anderson, for all your guidance here! - 1/8/2015 4:19:14 PM
  • Great article! I have been very inconsistent over the past few months and need to re-focus on consistency. I'll definitely try all of these, especially plan B with long work hours ahead.

    Thank you! - 12/29/2014 7:01:22 AM
  • I have, during an emotionally grueling triathlon, tried to convince myself I really wanted to go back to being the fat lady who just rides her bike. Fortunately, my Inner Coach took over and wouldn't let that part of me win. - 11/4/2014 2:05:50 PM
  • What a great article! Thank you, Dean! :) I have struggled doing that 10-minute exercise a day 5 days a week challenge and I couldn't figure out why... I understand now that it might have been too much at the time. I like the "Build Momentum One Step at the Time" section of the article. I think it suits me better than starting 5 days a week "cold turkey". - 10/24/2014 12:25:24 PM

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