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SGCC Lesson #7: Streaks (10+ Fitness Minutes and More)

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Sunday, July 09, 2017

This lesson is from the Fire Cornerstone. As a reminder:

Fire Cornerstone – Live with Passion, Energy & A sense of Adventure
Most people set goals and then forget them. This cornerstone is designed to keep you motivated with passion and fire as you reach goals.

I recommend that you try to make your 10+ fitness minutes program into a daily streak to see if this strategy works for you (there are other variations below if it doesn’t). This simply means that you do it each day and then keep track of the number of days in a row you have exercised for at least 10 minutes. Here are some top points about streaks:

• A 10+ Fitness Minutes streak is like brushing your teeth – some people comment that it’s “too extreme” to exercise every day. This goes back to the magic of using only 10 minutes of exercise at home as a low hurdle – even if it’s just walking around the block. I often ask this question: “is brushing your teeth every day an extreme activity?”

• Each day becomes multiple types of coaching – every day your number increases, the increase serves as:
o A reward – it becomes a fun reward seeing your numbers add up. Once the days really start adding up, you might be surprised at just how much confidence you build in all areas of life
o An accountability tool – your streak keeps you accountable
o A coach – each increase is like getting a pat on the back from your coach
• Results -- people often wonder when they’ll start to see results from a streak. Here are different levels of success I see (with the caveat that everyone is different, so results may vary):
o Even on Day 1 you might feel the hope and joy of the accomplishment of setting a goal, reaching that goal, and then tracking it. You are starting an exciting journey!
o Days 2-14 can be a fun, honeymoon-type stage. As crazy as it sounds, 10 minutes per day for 14 days really could build the foundation that changes the course of the rest of your life.
o Days 15-30 are often when you start to really turn this into a habit. This can also be a time of high risk since you really haven’t “invested” that much into your streak yet, so you could get distracted and fall off.
o Days 31-89 are a huge test in my experience. This is when you are probably still putting in more effort compared to the results you get back physically (although there can still be very strong physical benefits and mental benefits from setting, reaching, and tracking goals). Keep in mind that this is the period when true magic is happening even if the results feel less than your effort.
o Days 90-180 have been the period where I have hit the exercise tipping point – where you start seeing glimpses of the amazing benefits and then actually hit that tipping point. I remember when this first happened to me, I was the happiest I had ever been in my life and had more energy than I’d ever had.
o Days 181 plus – once you hit the tipping point, this really becomes fun. Depending on your life at the time, you can choose to just maintain your program if you are busy, or you might ramp up your efforts in fun ways. By this point, you’ll also most likely be getting amazing results in all areas of your life.

• Failure before success -- there is a good chance that you will fail at some point in your streak, especially in the early stages. This happens all the time for me. I recently “failed” more than 5 times before my current streak “stuck”. Every time this happens, just reflect on why you missed and what you could do better next time. Failure and mistakes can be great if you learn from them. But then at some point if you persist, the odds are good that this will stick. This leads to the next point…

• You just won’t miss – when your streak is based on a simple program and the streak is meaningful to you because it connects to your big goals in life, you will hit a point in your streak where it would take a real calamity to end your streak. We have members on SparkPeople who have more than 1,000-day streaks. I remember doing pushups by my bed near midnight sometimes as part of keeping my original streak alive. This will become so important to you that you’ll re-arrange your schedule if necessary to make sure you get at least 10 minutes. This does a few important things:
1. First, you start building incredibly strong determination to reach your goals – this determination will then lead to breakthroughs for other goals
2. Second, your fitness consistency will give you more energy than you’ve ever had to reach your goals
3. These two points then become a virtuous cycle that feeds on itself and could truly change the trajectory of your life.

• Self-improvement program – doing a 10+ fitness minutes streak becomes a simple and exciting framework for a self-improvement program that can touch every area of your life. This way, you can keep notes along the way about your successes and challenges.

• Vacation and Visualizations – I still have vivid memories of keeping my original streak alive while on vacation, like doing sprints on the beach on Jekyll Island, Georgia on a trip with college friends. Then, in another win/win, during the cold and dark mornings of the following winter, I remember visualizing those sprints while doing pushups at 6am before work. Right now I visualize getting back to the famous Kalalua Trail on Kauai, Hawaii with my family while doing workouts. What will you choose to visualize?

• Streak variations – if you like this concept in general, but really don’t want to do a daily streak, there are many possible variations to streaks:
o Percentage streak – you can set a goal to exercise a certain percentage of days. This is something you can track on SparkPeople as part of a 10+ fitness minutes streak. Seeing a high percentage even if you miss a day to end your daily streak is one way to get right back on board
o Weeks streak – you could set a goal to exercise 3-5 times per week and then keep a streak of the number of weeks in a row you can do this
o Free pass – you could give yourself a free pass after every X days to use in case you miss a day (from sickness, health condition, etc.)
o Beyond fitness – you can choose to do a streak on just about anything (food, water, sleep, playing the guitar, etc.). This could intentionally be a short-term 14-21 day streak to build a habit, or an ongoing streak.
o Streaks within streaks – you could challenge yourself with a small streak during your main streak (doing a new exercise routine, etc.)
o Advanced variations include challenging yourself to average a certain number of minutes per week and continue growing that number
o There can be other variations – the best type of streak is the one that will motivate you. I guarantee you that some type of streak can be designed to fit the most basic level all the way up to professional athletes. We will also have fun challenges on the site and app for people participating in streaks.

One of the biggest risks of streaks is that sinking feeling when you break a streak for some reason. Recently I broke a streak of days in a row blogging for this challenge that was over 80 days. I was bummed about this a bit because that streak represented my goal to consistently try to help other people reach their goals. In this case, the goal to consistently help people is the most meaningful part, not the streak itself. I realized that I still had blogged 98.8% of the days. So now I keep track of the percentage of days since I started this plus started a new streak (so I write that down as 89 of 90 days and 5 in a row).

Also, breaking a streak is good practice for real disappointment in life. These streaks are simply a game to help you stay motivated. If you break a streak, be bummed for a bit and then figure the best way to handle it and MOVE FORWARD. I will admit that breaking a long fitness minutes streak IS A REAL BUMMER for me too.

Seeing that I wasn’t too upset at breaking my streak, here’s what one member said:

Gamechanger! Paradiam shift whatever you call it, you changed my mindset! Missing a day is a bit crushing for me. It's like missing perfect attendance or never being late, you can't get it back. You stated missing your streak did not bother you much, then went on to say you were at 98 percent. Ok, 98.8.
You pointed out, it's still awesome! You’re still a winner! I still rock if I miss a day!

One more tech note about streaks: SparkPeople currently only has streaks on our desktop site and not on our mobile web browser or in the app. We hope to change that at some point. But this isn’t much of an issue. I actually track part of my streaks using Microsoft Excel so than I can also track my average fitness minutes per day over time and some other custom metrics I look at with my fitness program.

Happy streaking!

Return to SparkPeople System Overview:

Here is the SparkTeam for this challenge:

Here is the button to press. Each time you press the button, the number of total presses will increase by one as a way to show that we're all part of something bigger -- a community of people reaching goals together!


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