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Healthy Living, Transformation

Habit vs Routine.

Habit. “A recurrent, often unconscious pattern of behavior that is acquired through frequent repetition.”

Routine. “A prescribed, detailed course of action to be followed regularly; a standard procedure.”

I’m a stickler for the details in life – drives me crazy (I would imagine others as well .. sorry gang), but I cannot fathom existing in any other way. So, when I began this process of transitioning to morning workouts, I flip flopped between using the term habit and routine in my discussions and writing. I landed on whichever sounded better rolling off the tip of my tongue, or felt better under my fingertips on the keyboard. Now, two weeks later, I find myself taking a closer look at these two words, mostly because I believe they have important implications for other aspects of my life. And I am sharing with you, because I believe they could many of the same implications for you as well.

The psychology behind a ‘habit’ tells us that for something to truly become a habitual behavior, it must go relatively unnoticed by the person exhibiting the behavior. For something to be a habitual behavior, a person should not need to engage in self-analysis when undertaking routine tasks. Psychology is awesome, is it not? I can tell you right now, morning workouts for me are NOT habitual, not yet. So if it is not yet a habit, it is pretty obvious that what I have started forming is my morning workout routine, and I am good with that.

Reach Goal!

Step 2 Evaluate the Changes (Did you read my previous blog entry? If not, this may not make all that much sense to you so you probably better check it out.)

Recount:  I moved (successfully and permanently) the alarm clock out of the bedroom and into the adjoining room. Now, when the alarm goes off I have to climb out of bed, over my loyal dog at the side of my bed, and out into the living room. Let me tell you, the mini obstacle course is enough to wake you up in the morning. Not only is having to go across the room to hit the alarm helping me in the morning, but I find that I sleep better at night without the alien lights glowing next to my face. Who knew. Most mornings now, I am up even before the alarm sounds (not that I actually get up mind you, I haven’t gone crazy, but it is still nice to beat it). Every night before my morning workout days, I put my running shoes in the same place, lay out my workout clothes, locate my gym key, and ensure my iPod is charged. So all that is left when that alarm sounds is to get up, stumble to the clock to silence the noise (which is actually far more bearable far away than it is next to your ear), throw on my clothes, and head out the door. That, is my routine. I know. Insightful. Sorry, but not everything can contain and “ah-ha” moment. All-in-all, I would say that the reading I did about how to successfully transition into morning workouts helped me. I mean, if for no other reason than to read about how much others dreaded making good on tips like moving the alarm across the room, which I could always SEE the clear benefits of, but just could not bring myself to do. I knew I was not alone in my dread to start this process of defining my routine, and it helped.

Challenges:  My own brain. Just this morning I almost did not get out of bed after a four day hiatus from working out (not ENTIRELY my fault, but I feel as if I really do not have room to be making excuses right now, so I’ll just leave that alone). There was most definitely a bit of self-analysis going on, and as we have learned, a person should not need to engage in self-analysis when undertaking routine tasks of a habitual behavior. My self-analysis actually sounded a bit like this:  ‘You’re sick, and this workout will help you to sweat it out. You haven’t worked out in four days, and you KNOW you are going to feel horrible about yourself if you do not get up and go do this. Plus, you always feel so much better after it’s over. This is NOT helping you to form a healthy habit, and you know you’re not giving up on it, so why make it more difficult on yourself?’ No joke, that was a legit conversation this morning.

Solution(s):  This is super easy. Get up, engage and trust in your routine, and go work out. This really is the only solution that will help me to reach my goal of creating a habit for myself of completing morning workouts.

Reflection:  It should be noted that for me, this series of posts is very clearly about me trying to make a change in my workout routine, but as all of you know, things are not always just as they appear to be. I have multiple large scale goals in my life at this moment, all of which will take (and are taking) a lot of hard work, dedication and perseverance. If I can wrap my head around the feelings related to successfully forming a morning workout habit, I will be more inclined to form other positive habits (and routines) as they relate to other aspects of my life. Transference.

Life is a series of goals waiting to be accomplished, some of which need more help than others in attaining. I have them, you have them, everyone has them. For example. Goal: finish my graduate project. I have a nagging ‘minor’ detail related to my Master’s Degree work – my graduate project. One graduate project (two final chapters really) is all that stands between me and receiving my Dual Master’s Degree from Indiana University. If I had set a series of goals, created a routine, and stuck to it, this project would be well over with and I would have a shiny diploma frame up on my wall in the office. Again, it takes hard work, dedication and perseverance. Things I have allowed myself too much slack in for reaching this goal.

Goal: create and maintain, on a more consistent basis, a personal blog. The result of that goal was a new idea about how to personally benefit from my own blog (and hopefully allow others to benefit as well). I maintain two blogs. One blog is for professional related posts, it can be found on IROC’s page, and contains content relevant to the field of accessible recreation. The intent is to maintain the IROC blog as I travel for work to the various recreation entities we assess and conduct training’s for, and to post general content as it relates to accessibility that may be of interest to professionals in the recreation field. The second blog, this one, nikkimontembeault.com, is intended to be an outlet used to reveal moments of inspiration, struggles, mental breakthroughs, and growth encountered while setting out to accomplish my goals. Goals such as FINALLY graduating, landing my first IROC contract, establishing healthy living habits, becoming a better partner, friend, family member and pet owner. If I can transfer what I learn from establishing a morning workout routine (something I NEVER thought I would do in a million years), to accomplishing something such as finishing a graduate project, I know that I can do it with anything. I can knock these goals off the list one at a time. Feeling a sense of accomplishment in life is essential to wanting to continue to truck through the rest of what life has to offer, and to doing it with a sense of growth. There are too many negative habits out there at our fingertips to form, and it is crazy to think they take just as much time and repetition to form as those good habits. Set a goal, plan your attack (aka your routine), and keep at it – pretty soon, you will find (without recognizing it) that you have formed a habit, and most likely, accomplished a goal.

What habits have you formed that you are proud of and that were maybe not so easy for you to form? What goals have you accomplished by setting routines and creating habits? I would love to hear from you.

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  1. Pingback: an ode to coffee. « nikki.montembeault - May 18, 2012

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