Launch into any new health or fitness challenge and you’re bound to feel motivated. Problem is, over time the toll of these big, new behaviors can start to weigh you down - until eventually, it just feels easier to give up. Which doesn't exactly bode well for creating confidence–or change.
There has been a steady rise in holistic fitness and wellness challenges lately. Many of these popular challenges are uber-intense, requiring individuals to completely overhaul their lifestyle. But do they actually work? “In those instances, I would say it’s rare that all aspects of a challenge will lead to ongoing behavior change,” says Orangetheory research scientist Dr. Brittany Masteller, PhD.
Here are a few things you can do instead to ensure that your new healthy habits stick:
- Make it mean something. When it comes to lasting behavior change, researchers have identified a few big predictors of success. At the top of the list: a strong reason for wanting to change. “Whether it’s a history of disease in your family or becoming a parent, people should reflect frequently on their ‘why,’” says Masteller.
- Personalize your plan. New habits won’t last if they don’t fit into your life. Even if your goal is similar to someone else, your approach might need to be very different. For example, the approach for a young, single college student versus an older, married woman with four kids will be different. “And that is ok–different does not mean bad!” says Masteller. “The key is figuring out what works for you, and your life.”
- Start slowly. The ultimate goal is to integrate as many consistent healthy behaviors as you can, says Masteller. But that doesn’t mean you need to add them all at once. This is especially important if you have weight-loss goals. “Changing body composition takes time. To retain as much muscle as possible, you actually don’t want to lose a bunch of weight very fast. A slow, consistent trend of weight loss will be easier to maintain once your goal weight is achieved.”
- Be patient. “Health is for a lifetime–not for 30 days,” says Masteller. “It might take months, years, or even decades to fully realize the investment you are making. Every little decision and behavior can add up over time to improve your health across your lifetime.”
- Spot the small stuff. Keep your motivation high by taking notice of the smallest things that have improved through your new habits, says Mastellar. “Are you less stressed? Do you feel more well-rested? More energy? Clearer mind? While these changes may not feel radical, over time they will contribute positively to our health.”
- Find support. This might be the most important factor for lasting behavior change. “People inherently want to feel connected to others. If the people you interact with don’t respect your healthy lifestyle, it can be more difficult to stay on track,” says Masteller. “This doesn’t mean you can’t have people in your life who live different lifestyles, but finding a community of people who share your values–like your OTF community–is really important for lasting behavior change.”
By implementing these tips, you can increase your chances of making lasting behavior change. In line with this, Orangetheory is launching a new 30-day “mental toughness” challenge, Push 30, designed with sustainable self-improvement in mind. Here’s how it works: From June 1-30th, participants must complete at least 15 classes of their choice (Orange 45, 60, 90, Lift 45 or Orangetheory Live.) They are also encouraged to engage in 30 minutes of daily physical activity, make a dietary change (e.g., eliminating a glass of wine or adding more vegetables) and consume a minimum of 2 liters (8 cups) of water per day. “The Push 30 Challenge is different in that there is some structure involved, with the option of adding some additional challenge components,” says Orangetheory vice president of fitness Scott Brown. “This means a member can individualize their approach so they can feel successful.”
Simply taking the initiative to sign up and complete the challenge can have its own rewards. “Members can expect to feel a sense of accomplishment and build some self-efficacy or confidence in achieving their health goals,” says Brown. “When they complete the Push 30 Challenge, they can use that confidence to continue implementing health goals in their daily routines.”
But in case you need a bit more incentive than improved confidence and bonding with your community: All members who register and complete the challenge will be entered to win a Hyperice product in their local studio (valued at approximately $300). Did we mention it’s free for members? Register for the Push 30 challenge by calling or stopping in your local studio starting May 18.