How to Grow a Habit: Steps 4 & 5 - Plan and Prepare
Once you have set a health or fitness goal for yourself, you must plan out the steps for reaching it. After all, a goal without a plan is simply a wish. As a busy mom, you understand that if something is important, you have to plan it into your day otherwise it will be forgotten or brushed aside for "another time."
Having a plan written out and placed where you will see it each day, will make taking the steps in that plan more likely to happen. A workout calendar, meal plan, or daily schedule are great ways to create and keep your plan at the front of your mind.
Your plan can as simple as writing "cardio workout" on a calendar day, or a more detailed outline of prescribed workouts in a fitness app or program. The important thing is to determine what the small, specific steps you need to take each day are towards your goal, and how to best display them in a way that will be meaningful and manageable for your life.
You can create your own plan using printable calendars, apps on your smartphone or even just a daily journal or you can download a free one, or sign up for a longer running challenge or program, such as a 6-week workout or meal planning class.
The key to building a new habit is to repeat it often until it begins to feel automatic and you feel strange when you miss a day. Also, it is important that you break it down into small, specific steps that you are able to accomplish at one time. If you plan to do too much all at once and then attempt it and are unable to accomplish the steps you have planned in the time you allotted, you will be discouraged and more likely to quit on your goal. If you have a weight loss goal, for instance and you attempt to workout daily for an hour and completely overhaul your eating habits, you may find that these "steps" are too big to commit to doing right away for longer than a few days.
It is better to make smaller changes and practice implementing them until they become habit before adding on additional practices. For instance, you can set a 20 minute workout goal daily for yourself, rotating between bodyweight workouts and brisk walking every other day. Once you become adapted to this being a daily practice, you can increase the intensity of your workouts, or make changes to your eating habits to help see greater results. Try not to overwhelm yourself, but create a plan with small changes that you know you can stick to for 3-6 weeks before adding new steps.
Once you have your plan in place, you will need to make sure you have all the tools, equipment, and gear that you need to implement your plan. If you are planning to begin working towards a running goal, you will need to make sure you have proper running shoes, and comfortable clothing to run in. If your goal is to make changes to how you eat, you will need to take the necessary steps to remove foods from your home that you do not want to eat, and to stock your fridge and pantry with the ingredients you need. Make sure you have your meal plan and any recipes you need for the week.
It is also highly recommended that in addition to your plan and any other items you need for reaching your goals that you also have an accountability person or support group. This may be a workout partner, a hired coach or trainer, or on online group. This should be someone or somewhere you can share your daily accomplishments, ask questions or vent frustrations you may be having and get the help and encouragement you need to keep going.