The Secret to a Workout Routine that Sticks: Pen and Paper
Entrepreneurs, successful professionals, and famed executives praise the benefits of journaling and physically writing down goals. A Harvard study in the 70s found that participants were 3 times more likely to hit their goals if they wrote them down. Huffington, Buffet, and Oprah Winfrey all extoll the benefits of their goal setting systems which all include putting pen to paper.
It's clear we've listened, at least to some extent. We buy planners and calendars that have goal setting systems like they are candy. I have 3 filled planners on my shelf and 2 unused planners right next to them. We carry them to work with us, plan our lives in them, and accomplish our biggest goals with them.
So, why do we not use a journal or planner to help us hit our fitness goals?
Why do we just show up to the gym without writing down our goals or plans, execute what we think is a good workout, and never really take the time to check in with our bodies or emotions to see how working out makes us feel?
Whether it's the taboo of carrying around a journal and pen in the gym or just not investing the time after a workout, we are not doing something that can really help us achieve our fitness goals.
Here are 3 reasons you should use a fitness journal:
Holding yourself accountable to doing what you told yourself you were going to do is perhaps the most important piece to achieving any goal.
Using a fitness journal and workout log is the best way to keep you accountable to yourself. It helps you realize that the ONLY thing keeping you from your goals is you! If you write down your goals in a fitness journal and it ends up collecting dust on the table because you aren't using it, it's made very evident that YOU are not putting in the time and effort necessary to hit your goals.
Gives Your Fitness Goals Life
There's something about the physical feedback of putting pen to paper that gives a goal meaning and life. The reason people who write down their goals are 3 times more likely to achieve them is because they have physically manifested their goals into the world.
Digital planners and trackers are great. If they work for you and help you hit your goals, by all means don't let me stop you. But, for me, they are a digital black box. Once I put something in there I have no idea where it goes. It doesn't seem real or tangible.
When I write a goal down, I know exactly where it lives. I can see it, touch it and feel how real the goal is.
Creates a Positive Habit Loop
I won't detail the specifics of Charles Duhigg's The Habit Loop, but essentially he proposes that nearly every habitual action we take can be broken down into 3 parts: a cue, a routine, and a reward. A cue is what triggers you to perform the routine or habit and the reward is the positive feedback you receive for performing the routine.
Take, for example, a simple act like brushing your teeth. The cue is waking up with bad breath. The routine is the act of brushing your teeth and the reward is the minty fresh tingle your mouth receives. They actually put citric acid and mint oil in toothpaste because of the positive reward it gave people after brushing their teeth. Dental health in the United States actually soared because brushers were given a proper reward for their previously mundane routine.
Here's the catch: writing down your goals and workouts becomes the cue and the reward for your routine of working out. If you want to start and maintain the healthy habit of working out, all you have to do is put pen to paper before and after your workouts with goals and wins and you can begin building the desired habit.
Your cue becomes writing down your specific workout goals for the day. Your routine is completing the workout and the reward is the satisfaction of checking off the boxes at the end of the workout and documenting the wins.
Writing down your workouts might be the simplest secret to implementing a workout routine that lasts.
Check out the fitness journal that helps you build healthy habits, set the right fitness goals, and practice the mindfulness techniques that sets you up for success.