Two years, five months, and 3 days ago, as of this writing, I made the decision to run at least one mile every day. I have not missed a single day since that time.
Am I the best runner ever? Not even close.
Have I reached all of my fitness goals and do I love every part of my body? Nope.
Am I in the best shape of my life? Probably.
Have I improved my running tremendously during this time? Certainly not in speed, because I hate running fast. However, I have managed to train for and run a full marathon, 8 half marathons, two 25k’s, and several 5k races during this time.
Why am I so crazy? Because consistency is the absolute hardest part about being healthy.
You Don’t Need More Knowledge
For the most part, you know what you need to do to reach your physical health goals. You know what good food choices are. You know you should workout. You know you should take better care of yourself, and you know how to do these things.
I would also guess that not only do you know what you should do, but some of the time, you actually do it! You keep yourself from buying that tub of ice cream. You stop yourself from scooping up a second helping. You eat a salad for lunch for goodness sakes! And when the sun is shining and the temperatures are perfect, you lace up your shoes and take the kids for a walk after work.
You’re good at the sometimes stuff. And you feel really incredible about it when you’ve made a healthy choice.
But then you don’t, the sun is not shining, or you had a hard day at work, or the kids are on your last nerve, so you eat all the ice cream when they go to bed. And then one bad choice turns into two. One day with no exercise turns into a week. And suddenly your house is filled with junk food and your standing in a dressing room cringing at the fact that you have to go up yet another jean size.
When you want it bad enough, you just do it.
I’ve been there. I’ve done that. And this, my friends, is why I am crazy enough to run every single day.
For the longest time, I wanted to run races and actually enjoy it, but I sucked at training consistently. I’d have a really great week or two and then life would get busy and I’d fall off the wagon. By the time the race came around I knew I was going to have a rough time. I ended each race feeling miserable and wondering why on earth I kept signing myself up for such torture.
I knew there had to be a better way. So I started running every day, without any room for excuses. Rain, snow, sunny skies. Happy, sad, mad. Busy or bored. Healthy or sick. Sore or energized. None of it matters. I am a streak runner, so I run every day.
Now, I finish a race feeling elated. Exhausted, sore, and winded, but also looking at the calendar to find out when I can sign up for another.
My weight doesn’t yo-yo around. If I eat too much junk, I feel it on my runs, so I’m more motivated than ever to not eat so much junk. Junk is not good fuel for feeling great on a run.
I’m also more energized than ever. I’m more productive and focused. And in general, I feel less stress and worry, its all worked out on my runs. All those reasons the “experts” tell us we should workout on a regular basis are actually true.
So what do you think your life would look like if you committed to consistently working out every day?
Maybe you hate running. Or your life situation is one where you just can’t run, especially not every day. So don’t run. (Spoiler alert: running is not the best or most productive form of exercise.)
I can guarantee that you can do something, something very small so that at first thought, it feels almost insignificant. Your job is to find out what that something is and start doing it, every day, without excuses.
You don’t have to be quite as uber strict as I am about my run streak. If you’re sick or injured, you can give yourself a rest day. But be extremely careful and cautious about taking days off. If you want to workout on a regular basis, you can. Just make the decision and commit. It is as simple and as hard as that. Here are some reasons for how and why this works.
I am a run streaker. Everyone who knows me, knows I run every day. So every day I go out for a run.
I am not a smoker. I did not buy cigarettes today. Not because I have crazy good willpower that allows me to overcome the addictive pull of nicotine, but because I don’t identify as someone who smokes, so there is no need for me to buy cigarettes.
“I can only do what I am and I cannot do what I am not.” – Jim Fortin
What do you tell yourself that you are?
I’m overweight. I don’t make good food choices. I’m an emotional eater. I’m too busy to exercise. I hate exercising. I’ll always be fat. I have a sugar addiction, a sweet tooth. I just can’t help myself. I don’t have time to eat healthy food.
If you want to change your life, you have to change how you think about yourself. What you speak and think becomes your reality.
Maybe you could try on a new identity.
I am someone who exercises every day. I make my health a priority.
Eliminate Decision Fatigue
As you go through your day, you are constantly making decisions. Some are conscious and some are more unconscious. What psychologists have discovered is that when you make decision after decision after decision, your brain gets tired. And it starts making bad decisions.
This is why people like Mark Zuckerberg wear the exact same clothes every day. In order to avoid decision fatigue, he does everything he can to limit the number of unnecessary decisions he needs to make each day.
When you come home from a long day of work and you have a fridge full of healthy food, chopped and ready to eat, but you pick the bag of chips instead – decision fatigue. You’ve made great choices all day, but your brain is now tapped out on choosing good and goes for the easy and the comfortable.
How do we combat this? We make decisions ahead of time and call it a done deal. Mark Z. doesn’t have to worry about what he’s going to wear each day. He made the decision a long time ago that he always wears grey t-shirts. I don’t have to worry about if I’m going to run each day. I made the decision a long time ago that I run at least one mile every day. Sometimes more, but never less.
Make the decision to workout every day ahead of time. Then, just go workout.
Starting is the hardest part.
I say, “then, just go workout” like that’s the easiest thing in the world. I get it. You are busy. You are tired. You are hungry. You don’t know what to do. All the reasons you tell yourself that you can’t workout each day.
But the reality is that none of those reasons are actually valid. You could workout, but you are choosing not to, because of your list of excuses. But if you’re ready to let go of your excuses, I challenge you to make the choice to workout every day. Not just some days, not just three days a week, or five days a week, but every day.
The catch is that you make it something small. Something that is 100% achievable for you to do every day. For me, it’s a one-mile run.
For you, it might be 100 jumping jacks, or 5 pushups, or a walk around the block, or 10 minutes of yoga. Maybe you change it up every day, but you give yourself a minimum amount of time (5-10 minutes is perfect). Set your goal to something small and achievable.
Then, each day, just do it. It’s so small that your excuses will feel less valid. You’ll still need to put forth the effort and make the choice to start, but if you know you’ll be done in a few minutes, starting feels a whole lot easier.
Keep It Up
And the secret that I know is that some days, you’ll just do the bare minimum. Some weeks you’ll just do the bare minimum every single day. But then you’ll have a day where you feel pretty amazing after doing the bare minimum and you’ll think, “Well, I’m already dressed and moving. What if I keep going for five more minutes?” And then you will, and you’ll realize that it feels pretty nice. So you’ll start planning more days to go a little extra.
Some days you will do extra. Some days you will do the bare minimum. Some days you will love it. Some days you will hate it.
But, you will be working out on a consistent basis. And you’ll have no more excuses or reasons to get mad at yourself about.
You are finally a person who works out on a regular basis.
Today’s Action Step
Just try this out for one week. Pick one small workout goal, an amount of time or a specific activity. Decide to do it every day, no matter what. At the end of the week, see how you feel. It’s only 7 days, what do you have to lose? Think about how incredible it will be to be able to say that you worked out every day for a week!