Many of us find it difficult to maintain our regular workout schedule during the busy holiday season. So now that it’s the second week of January, hopefully you have gotten back into your old workout routine, or perhaps are starting a new workout routine.
Psychologists tell us that the initial 8 weeks of beginning any new “habit” are the most crucial, because once we have gotten through that period and have made an activity part of our daily life, we are much more likely to stick with it. Phil Campbell, author of Ready, Set, Go! Synergy Fitness for Time-Crunched Adults, talks about the stages we all go through during the first 8 weeks of a new fitness program.
The four phases of learning something new are Form, Storm, Norm and Perform.
Form. The Form phase is marked with the excitement of beginning a new program. During the first week of your new fitness plan, sticking with the plan should be easy. You may even feel you can handle more training than you are doing. Don’t do this. Not only does it risk injury, it risks your motivation and continuation of the fitness program over time.
Storm. The Storm phase follows a week later. When we learn the program is hard work (on some days) and we just don’t want to train – this is the Storm phase. It happens to everyone. In the Storm phase, we begin to create excuses (conscious and subconscious) for missing workouts. This is, by far, the toughest phase.
How should you get through the Storm phase? Mentally prepare ahead of time. The key to overcoming it is to make the commitment now and press through the bad weather of the Storm phase. And this will happen. Plan on it! Just don’t let this natural human emotion deter you from reaching your fitness goal.
Consistency is a must during the initial eight weeks of your fitness program. Following your plan will improve your appearance and produce fitness gains rapidly. The positive results will increase satisfaction and motivation to continue.
Norm. The Norm phase is adapting to your fitness training commitment by learning that you can press though the tough days when you do not feel like training and still get in a great workout. Every successful, long-term training individual knows that feeling bad at the beginning of a workout often means this will be the best workout of the week.
Perform. The Perform phase occurs when you have experienced the first three phases and begin to train consistently. It is when fitness training becomes internalized.
Repetition eventually becomes habit. Training can’t be a choice. Fitness training is something you do because you are you! Training must become a part of who you are. This is the Perform phase.
During the first eight weeks, you will not only be making positive physical changes, but you will also be having positive mental changes as well. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you will bypass the first three phases and go straight to the Perform phase. This is a mistake. When this happens, the Storm phase seems forcefully to pop up and pull the person back into this phase for a few body slams before letting go.
A better strategy is simply to be mentally prepared for all four phases in advance. Identify the phase you are experiencing and with maturity and confidence work through the mental aspects of training by sticking to the plan on the tough days. When you reach the Perform phase maintaining the fitness plan is much easier, but you can’t get there until the first eight weeks are completed!
Phil Campbell, Ready, Set, Go! Synergy Fitness for Time-Crunched Adults