Studies have shown that it takes 21 days to officially break a habit. Smoking, chewing gum, biting your nails. Just quit for three weeks and you’ll be all set. The same studies have shown that it takes the same amount of time, 21 days, to make a habit. Waking up early, drinking more tea, or maybe even going to the gym…?
Yes folks, that’s right. Today I joined a gym for the very first time in my life. Day one, with twenty more to go. Except, after Going Beyond Google, I discovered that the foundation to those 21 day studies are kind of a hoax. More specifically, they are based on empirical research (aka it worked for a very small select number of people with one habit), but it has never been tested as clinical research (aka not enough evidence to say any habit can be made or broken within 21 days).
Regardless, I am on Day One of my Planet Fitness membership, and this time, I’m really going to commit. Now I know what you’re all thinking. But Michael! You say that every summer. You’re going to get buff etc etc but you never even make it through the first month! Okay. First of all, RUDE. Second, maybe I was the one who was thinking that…
But really, this time is going to be different, mainly for one reason: I paid for this gym membership. With my own hard-earned money! There is no way that I can let this cost go to waste, and for anyone that knows me, they can back me up here. But Michael! What about school and work and social life and time for yourself? Yup, I know. Don’t worry, I’ve got it covered. And no, I can’t add more hours to the day. But one way or another, I’m going to do this.
In case anyone else is looking for some twentysomething workout inspiration, here are a few tips:
1. Make Time
There are a limited number of hours in the day. 24, to be exact. Ideally, you will be spending 6 to 8 hours of that sleeping, and chances are, another 8 hours of that will be spent working. That means there are only 8 hours left in the day to be active and awake outside of work…and if you’re a grad student (like me) you can probably just forget it because the rest of that time is taken up by class and homework. BUT I REFUSE. The remaining 8 hours are so precious. Only one third of your day is truly meant for you, whatever you want to do, so make the most of it. And if you don’t have the time, then make it.
2. Compromise with Yourself
If you’ve continued reading this far because you actually believe you might be able to make the time, great job! This is actually part 1a, because part of making the time is compromising with yourself and creating a realistic workout schedule. I know I would LOVE to go to the gym every single day for at least an hour. But that’s just silly. Factor in travel time, warm-up/cool-down, a shower when you get back…that’s basically an hour in itself. Tell yourself it’s okay to compromise with yourself. If you can only work out for twenty minutes one day, great! That’s twenty minutes you would have spent on your couch. No time to hit the gym? Take a ten minute walk in between meetings. It may not feel like much, but it’s better than getting discouraged because you don’t have the time to meet your original goals.
3. Set Goals
Realistic ones. And stick to them. SMART Goals, which all my Student Affairs friends know about, but not everyone who reads this is in Student Affairs. So for everyone else, SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-sensitive. So rather than say, “Yeah, I really want to join a gym and get fit!” …which is something I’ve been saying for the past three years…try something along the lines of “I’m going to go to the gym three days a week for at least 30 minutes.” It’s Specific (three times a week), Measurable (I either did it or I didn’t), Attainable (yup), Realistic (I’d like to this so), and finally, Time-sensitive (thirty minutes). Let’s hope it works!
Regardless of your workout regimen, whether or not you go to the gym, your body is a temple, and you should treat it like one. And I have to admit, I hate myself a little for saying that. But it’s so true! Being a twentysomething is the perfect time to focus on your physical well-being, and I mean PERFECT. In college, you’re drowning yourself in pizza and beer. And once you hit thirty, your body starts to slow down, your knees crack, your back hurts…so being in that twentysomething age range, I fully intend to take advantage of it!
Does anyone else have any other tips for staying fit and healthy as a twentysomething? Feel free to comment or share!