How to Accomplish Fitness Goals: Consistency Is King

Monday’s are my favorite day of the week. As you recover from your recoil of horror, let me explain.

I am a “routine” person. I find comfort and stability in the routines. As a kid, I didn’t really like summer vacation all that much because there wasn’t structure to my day like there was during the school year. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed time away from homework and the annoying kids at school, but I usually missed the schedule that school provided. I went to school, I went to practice (various sports, depending on the season), and I attended Girl Scouts (lifetime member!). I carried this into college; I went to class, I worked out (a lot), I studied, and I slept.

I had a pretty regimented 4 years- I kept to my schedule. I woke up and went to bed at the same time every day, I went to the same coffee shop to study, I (almost) always sat at the same table, I worked out at the same times, and even took the same route to each class. Though the details of my schedule shifted a bit every semester as my classes changed, I maintained a fairly rigid structure throughout the week.

Kelsey circa 2008.

Kelsey circa 2008.

At first, weekends were hard for me, because the structure was gone. I compensated for it by working at one of the campus dining halls on the weekends. I clung to my routines as I would a kettlebell during swings.

I know, I was a barrel of fun in college.

I was a competitive body builder in college, as I think most readers of the blog know, and the routine and structure I had helped me accomplish my goals of successfully competing in each show.

I learned through those four years that long-term goals necessitate long-term strategies.

I’ve loosened my tight, death-grip on my schedule over the years- mostly thanks to my loving, patient husband who helps me step outside those routines and relax on the weekends- though I still maintain a fairly structured work week. I have goals I want to accomplish, both short- and long-term, and I know that no matter how weird and wily the week may be, I can fall back onto my routines that allow me to work on each one regularly.

While I’m not advocating that you should NEVER deviate from your schedule, I am saying that structure is a boon when you’re on the path to achieve a goal. It allows for consistency and adherence to processes that propel you forward to that goal.

Do you want to deadlift your bodyweight? Drop 1 minute off your mile time or 5 seconds off your 60 yard dash? Leaner? Improve your performance on the field, court, or in the pool?

All those things take time and consistency.

Question: How are you going to consistently strength train? How are you going to ensure you’re consistently running? How are you going to consistently adhere to your eating plan?

Answer: By planning times in your day/week to do so. The best way to do that is to make it part of your normal routine. Everyone has their own daily and weekly rituals. Simply add training and/or meal prep or both to them!

When I get in the car, I check my mirrors, put on my seatbelt, turn the car on, check my mirrors again, put the car in reverse, and back out. This is my routine, and it’s so ingrained that I do most of it automatically without thinking about it. If I get distracted (say a large bird hits my windshield- true story) and I don’t perform all the checks in order, I usually forget something and I wind up lost on the process.

The same can be said, on a larger scale, about training. If it’s not part of your routine, you’ll forget to do it (or worse, find excuses not to do it). If it's automatically included in your daily life, it takes less mental bandwidth to remember and pretty soon, that seemingly far-off goal is accomplished!

This is my number one piece of advice for anyone looking to improve in the physical fitness realm- be it for athletics, aesthetics, or life-  make it a part of your life routine.