Building Habits the Right Way

It’s one week away from the biggest music festival of the season and the gym is more crowded than ever. I see too many people at the gym working out to “get in shape” so that they can look great by then. I’m always bombarded with questions of:

“Hey, what can I do to build up my ________ by the end of the week for (insert music festival or event)?”

“Hey! Can I work out with you for this week? I have to look good for (insert music festival or event)”

To be honest, I would love to tell them “Yes! Of course you can! You got into the gym just in time and you’ll super awesome by your event!” It would be the est thing to tell them. I’ll be happy saying that to them and they’ll be happy hearing it.

That would be the last thing that would come out of my mouth.

Instead, I’ll tell them “Dude you should have been coming to the gym consistently for the past few months. It might be a little bit too late, but keep working! Start developing a habit so that you’ll look good for the events coming up”.

And so, I’ll see them coming in to exercise for the next few days. But after their event is over, I won’t see them until a week before their next event.

So how do you start a good habit to go to the gym consistently? This can be applied to starting any other habits.

Have a definitive goal and time: Having a goal is the first step to reaching consistent habits. It will give you something to aim for instead of a generic reason such as “I want to get really big” or “I want to be fit”.

Instead tell yourself for “I want to gain 10 pounds in 3 months” or “I would like to have a mile time at 8 minutes”.

Form the habit: Make exercising a priority in your life. In school, I learned the concept of opportunity cost from my economy class. What this means is that in order for you to do something, you have to give up something else. This concept might sound extremely boring, but we could definitely apply it to anything in life, including health and fitness.

For example, I have missed out on many lunches, movie plans, etc just so I could go exercise. Although I missed out on a lot of activities, I prioritized exercising over a lot of things. So form the habit and be consistent.

In life, it is important to have consistency. People can go further running at a consistent pace rather than a quick sprint.

Start extremely small: By starting small, you make it a lot harder to quit on yourself as compared to going in guns blazing.

If your end goal is to run 5 miles per day, maybe start by just running 0.5 miles a day. This would get you into a good habit of running.

Last year, I was freaking out for a week over spring break because I didn’t exercise enough and thought I was going to get fat. The only thing I did for that period of time was jog because I had no access to any facilities. One thing that my friend told me was:

“Doing something is better than doing nothing at all”.

Plan and Prepare: What this means is to plan on exercising the day or week before, and prepare for it. For me, I would always pack my clothes and shoes the night before so that it would be easy heading out the door. I’m always that person who is frantic in the morning because I would wake up late. Packing the night before helps me save time and makes my life a lot easier. So plan ahead to exercise and prepare yourself for it so it’s harder to quit.

Exercise with a friend: When I exercise alone, I would sometimes lose motivation mid workout and end up quitting early. When I have a friend with me that has the same goals, we push each other above what we mentally think we can do. If you consistently exercise with a friend, it’ll be an extremely enjoyable experience. Not only will you achieve your goals faster, you will also have quality bonding time.

Start now: This advice is generic for a reason. As humans, we make excuses for many things that inhibit us from exercising. As a person who has been doing sports and exercising since the age of 5, I still struggle with a lot of excuses. However, I would simply just ignore my head, put on my shoes, and go out the door.

You might be thinking “Oh I’m not in shape” or “this is too hard”. But to be honest, we just have to muscle down and start. To me, starting a workout is like getting out of bed in the morning. The hardest part is just getting out of bed. The rest will figure itself out, and so is working out and exercising.

I hope these advice can motivate you to be a better version of yourself. This doesn’t just correlate to exercising. You can also apply these to any other habits that you want to start. The most important thing is to be consistent even when your mind doesn’t want you to be.

Comment below if you have any other tips or suggestions!

Originally published at on March 24, 2016.