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Deciding to start exercising again after many starts and stops can be difficult.
Many of us have gotten the motivation to start working out probably after watching a motivational video or reading an inspiring story.
You get this huge burst of motivation then you tell yourself, “This time, this time around I will stick to it, I will achieve my body goals.”
At first, you start strong, you wake up first thing the next morning, you, go out for a 30-minute jog or go for a 2-hour session in the gym, it feels hard but also refreshing because you’re finally doing it!
But the next day, you’re just not feeling it, you don’t have the same energy as yesterday, but you still decide to go.
This time you jog for 15 minutes and feel exhausted.
Fast-forward a week and you’re back to doing nothing.
This is the inevitable fate of 90% of people who start exercising.
In this article, I will go through why we always end up quitting and how to incorporate the 2-minute rule to make the habit of exercising finally stick!
Let’s get into it.
This is the standard approach most of us take towards beginning to exercise that has led us to quit time and time again.
I know people want to exercise for various reasons but in this section, I’m focusing more on exercising to improve your physique.
You dive in with the ultimate goal of finally achieving your dream body, there’s a huge gap between your current body and your goal body, so you decide you need to start exercising and without much thought, you go straight into it.
This approach towards exercise is fueled by motivation and emotions− motivation is limited and does not last very long, our emotions change all the time.
It is very difficult; might I say nearly impossible to build a habit depending on these two factors.
We need a guide, a routine to follow that allows us to stick to a plan, reduce the amount of mental friction required to execute that plan regularly, enable us to make decisions quicker, and hold us accountable when we don’t.
I suggest the 2-minute rule.
Before I started my diet, I read a book titled “Atomic Habits by James Clear” that changed how I perceived change − change in habits, personal identity reasons why we do the things we do, and so on.
I stumbled upon this rule called the 2-minute rule. The idea is to make your habits as easy as possible to start.
It suggests that when we want to build a new habit, we must start it in short iterations.
Due to this new habit not being a part of our current identity, starting it at large durations or doing too much too soon, which requires a huge amount of our limited willpower will eventually lead us to quit.
The overall goal of the 2-minute rule is to build the habit of showing up and continuing, stopping just when that habit starts feeling like a hassle.
This rule applies to starting any new habit, but in this article, I’m covering its benefits in building the habit of exercising.
The first step towards making exercise a habit is to make the process of showing up easy and begin with as little as possible so it’s easy to show up the next day.
Repeat this process over and over and before you know it, this seemingly difficult task that could just never stick in your previous attempts starts becoming more of a habit.
Using this rule comes with various benefits that outweigh the common approach towards building the habit of exercise, some of which include.
Before getting into the habit of exercising, we first need to understand what habit means itself and how it is incorporated.
Habit is an acquired behavior pattern that we perform subconsciously, to put it simply, they are behaviors, actions, or tasks that we’ve performed so many times that we now do them on autopilot.
The kind of person you are now, is a result of all the repeated patterns from your past, for example, if you consider yourself an honest person, it is because you have a track record of being honest for a substantial amount of time.
For a habit to stick, the particular action has to be performed over and over again, for some time before it can then be performed on autopilot.
Habits are difficult to stick to because it takes time for them to align with your identity.
Creating the habit of exercising goes with the same principle.
Most of us did not grow up exercising regularly, we haven’t performed enough exercises consecutively to make it an established habit.
People greatly underestimate how long it takes to make exercising stick, we start and stop after some weeks and wonder why it didn’t stick.
You have to exercise over and over again to create a track record in your mind before you can start to believe that you’re the type of person who performs exercises, this is when exercising starts becoming a part of your identity.
It is difficult to make the habit of exercising stick because we aren’t willing to do it long enough, this is usually caused by using the wrong approach, which includes – doing way too much too soon, starting without creating a metric to ensure we show up for our exercise sessions, having a metric to measure progress and improvements.
The major principle of the 2-minute rule is to ensure that we make it as easy as possible to begin. It is simply an aid to help us engage in the process of taking the first steps toward initiating an exercise.
To explain the process of using this rule, I will use an example of how I used it to start jogging when I endeavored to lose weight.
I have never liked jogging, it just seemed like such a boring and exhausting method of burning calories, but when I started my diet, I wanted to integrate some LISS (Low-intensity steady-state cardio).
For this, I chose walking and jogging, there are various alternatives, but this was the easily available option for me.
I have tried to jog in the past, but I could just never really stick to it for more than 2 weeks, of course, because I used the traditional method.
On my first day, I jogged for 2 minutes, and although I wanted to do more, I decided to end it there, I repeated this 3 times that week, and then the next week I bumped it up to 5 minutes, 3 times that week and it didn’t feel like a hassle, the next week I still ran 5 minutes but added a 15-minute walk.
Fast forward 2 months I was able to jog for 30 minutes, at 2 sets of 15 minutes in between walks, without getting that feeling to quit.
The key takeaway here isn’t the duration increase of my jogs, but the fact that I was able to stay consistent and show up for more than 2 months! Which is a drastic increase from my previous attempts.
What is also important here is fighting the urge to want to start much, you must abstain from this temptation.
The goal for your first sessions is only to build the habit of showing up.
My example above can be integrated into any exercise routine, let’s take a look at some examples.
|Step outside your house.||Walk for 5-minutes.||Walk for 30 minutes on weekends.||Walk for 2 hours daily.|
|Put on your running shoes.||Jog for 2 minutes.||Jog for 10 minutes twice a week.||Jog for 40 minutes daily.|
|Drive to the gym.||Work out for 5 minutes.||Work out for 30 minutes 3 times a week.||Work out for 2 hours 5 times a week.|
|Lay your yoga mat.||Stretch for 2 minutes.||Do a 30-minute yoga session 3 times a week.||Do a 90-minute yoga session daily.|
As you can see, the 2-minute rule can apply even before the main exercise, it begins at the first action that propels you towards initiating the exercise.
We are most likely to go through with action when we’ve taken that first initial step. So next time you don’t feel like going for a run before you decide to quit for the day, try putting on your shoes first.
The idea of the 2-minute rule is to make it as easy as possible to begin a habit.
Before the habit of exercising can stick, you have to exercise over and over again to create a mental log that proves to your mind that you’re the type of person who exercises, this habit then becomes a part of your identity.
The 2-minute rule for exercise is a ritual that ensures that you show up for your sessions consistently.
It has various benefits over the traditional approach, including making the process easy, creating room for progress, and giving you a proper structure.
This rule isn’t perfect like anything else, you have to acquire the desire first for a change and the desire to achieve your fitness goals before using this rule to aid in success.
There will be times when you won’t want to exercise when you don’t even want to do the 2 minutes, this is when your desire for change has to outweigh the desire for instant gratification.
And if that fails, do not beat yourself up, it happens to the best of us, just make sure not to miss more than twice in a row!