Breaking My Workout Streak

For a while, I had good success with maintaining my fitness habits for over 5-6 years. It was also a resolution that I had promised myself to keep for life as a way to keep myself physically fit and healthy, so as to be able to enjoy a good life.

However, this resolution had stopped around 4 years ago, after a few major changes in life. Firstly, I had a new job (unrelated) and secondly, I had moved into a new house (related).

At my old place, an important push factor was the easy accessibility of a gym. Having a workout area that was a 5-minute walk away, made my established habit easy to enforce. Every morning when the alarm rings at 6am, I would simply get changed, walk out into the cold air, get to the gym and exercise. Even on days when I did get unmotivated to do so, catching up after work (as a means to unwind) was still an option as it remained open until 10pm.

After moving, it became more difficult. There weren’t any gyms nearby that had the same hours, or had with the same convenience, distance-wise. Working out at home wasn’t an ideal option due to the set up - my new place had been a work-in-progress for a couple of years. Only fairly recently has it been done to a sufficient state that I’d consider setting up a home gym.

The Myth of Habit Formation

No doubt many will agree that it seemed difficult to have a life-long motivation to keep at doing something. Every single new skill/hobby that I got excited with initially, only kept me motivated intrinsically for a limited time. Some had longer shelf-life than others, but they all fizzled out over a finite duration.

The two habits that I have had kept on for the longest time were (1) my gym workout and (2) dancing. Both of them were consistent for around 4 years before they fell on the wayside.

A recent article I had come across gave me an illuminating answer to why. It also suggests that what I personally struggle with, is likely a universal struggle for everyone else too.

It seems that even with established habits, they are only ‘metastable’ - ie they remain stable only if certain external conditions are maintained. In my case, moving house broke my exercise routine, and COVID-19, broke my dancing practice routine.

Restarting Workouts

The past month, I’ve finally gotten to finish most of the major works on the house that I had intended completed. I think it’s now a good time to try to resume my workout habits at home.

The goal will have need adjustments though - I don’t have the same amount of readily available equipment as the gym had and will have to rely more on bodyweight exercises, among other things.

Thus, there will be a phase of trying to figure out a good set of exercises and routines, to reduce the decision costs and try to make it more of an automatic thing (than having to think about what to do), which I think will be the biggest hurdle.

I had growned used to relying on gym equipment, to which my workouts were typically short, but high-intensity exercises. I’m still not sure how I’d be doing that with bodyweight exercises. It will be a bit of a trial-and-error for a while, hopefully my motivation will keep me going for this period while I’m sorting it out.

We’ll have to see if I’m able to keep my habit formation going. Fingers crossed.