We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle.

Looking to form new healthy habits for CrossFit in the New Year? Want to keep your resolutions past February 1st?

Of the 60% of those who make a New Year’s resolution, only 8% accomplish their goals. What can help you join the 8% in 2020? Good, healthy habits.

According to Wendy Wood, the author of Good Habits, Bad Habits, “Forty percent of the time we’re not thinking about what we’re doing […] Habits allow us to focus on other things…Willpower is a limited resource, and when it runs out you fall back on habits.”

Thus, willpower alone—the suck-it-up-and-do-it approach—is not sustainable. Habits will help you reach your goals.

What Is a Habit?

Wood defines habits as “patterns of behavior that allow us to reach goals. We repeat what works, and when actions are repeated in a stable context, we form associations between cues and responses.”

In other words, finding cues that trigger desired actions help form healthy habits.

Furthermore, it is advisable to take a desired action or goal and to break it into SMART goals—ones that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.

For example, a person might choose to lose 50 pounds (specific and measurable) in 18 months (specific, achievable, and time-bound) before a high school reunion (relevance).

By breaking goals into these smaller pieces, you can begin to build targeted healthy habits to help you achieve the bigger picture.

Also remember: the most effective way to solidify habits is to work on just one at a time.

How Do We Create Good Habits?

  1. Commit to a single habit to adopt. Make it small at first and build upon it as the behavior becomes more and more automated. Though experts disagree with the exact time it takes to build a habit, a month is a manageable amount of time to commit to a change or develop a new routine.
  2. Create a cue/trigger and anchor it to an established habit or routine. If your goal is to work out more, you could establish a trigger to do sit-ups. For example, every time you go to the restroom, you do ten sit-ups. Thus, the act of already being up—having gone to the restroom—leads to the next act: exercise.
  3. Stick to your cues/triggers. Don’t overextend yourself by adding too many cues/triggers or by performing the activity outside of the framework you are establishing. If you do sit-ups whenever you feel like—along with doing them every time you go to the restroom—you will begin to feel out of control of your new habit. Do what you’ve agreed to do and be done.
  4. Become accountable. For each person, accountability looks different, but it often involves including others in your journey towards your goals. Whether you join a group of friends to workout every other day or keep track of your progress online with your followers, letting others know what your up will increase the likelihood that you will stick to your new habits and meet your goals.
  5. Plan for challenges. If, for instance, you leave work too late to go to the gym, you can do a workout DVD at home instead. Flexibility is key to maintaining the habit-building process because perfectionism is one of the biggest enemies of change.
  6. Establish milestone rewards. Often the most fun part of the process: rewards. If your goal is to lose weight through exercise, then breaking down the total pounds you want to lose turns a potentially looming number into more digestible chunks. The rewards for completing these increments should be something you desire and can be as elaborate or simple as you like. The key is to hold out on buying or experiencing these rewards until you’ve accomplished the milestone. If you reward yourself before you complete the mini-goal, you shrink your willpower to hold out on rewards. Reward yourself for what you’ve actually earned, not just when you feel like you’ve earned it.

Healthy Habits for CrossFit

Now that you know what a habit is and how to build one, pick one of the following that can be beneficial on your CrossFit journey.

  • Meditation: a meditation practice can help you tune into your body during your workout most often by focusing on your breathing. Your breathing can help you decide if you are working hard or being too easy on yourself. Meditation also teaches you to be kind to yourself, especially during tough workouts, where you may not get all the reps you aimed for. Additionally, it helps you pay attention to bodily feelings such as if your arms are aching from the effort of a PR clean or deadlift; your body can tell you how far you can push things if you focus on it.
  • Diet: watching what you eat can not only help you lose weight, but it can also help you fuel your workouts and increase your recovery rates.
  • Sleep: creating a sleep routine that allows for the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep a night, not only gives you energy throughout your day and workout, it also helps you heal after exercise. While you sleep, your body tends to torn muscle tissue that was damaged during workouts, building it back even stronger than before. Sleep is incredibly important to build into any healthy habits routine.
  • Self-care: taking time to do things for yourself outside of the gym is just as important as attending it regularly. Your mind is not a machine; it needs breaks too. These breaks can be as small as taking a bubble bath, reading, knitting, or painting. Something that brings you joy and relaxation should become a healthy habit in your everyday routine.
  • Plan: to implement healthy habits effectively, it is helpful to plan how you will work them into your everyday routine while keeping in mind the habit-building guidelines above. When will you find time to meditate? Can you create a cue/trigger between meditation and a self-care activity? Finding places in your day to build good habits, one at a time, is the best way to achieve any long-term goal.

Healthy habits are repeated actions, often via a cue/trigger that helps a person move closer to his or her goals. By breaking down goals into habits, one makes a huge project much more digestible so long as your focus is on one habit at a time.

So what healthy habit are you implementing for 2020? Please feel free to share it with us down below.