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By: Nutrition Coach, Olivia Barone

We all know consistency is key when it comes to reaching your health & wellness goals, but why is it so hard to achieve? It’s so easy to feel that intoxicating hit of motivation in the beginning, but staying consistent sometimes feels impossible, especially for those of us with inconsistent work schedules and busy social lives. I think the reason consistency is so difficult is because life in and of itself is inconsistent and ever changing. This begs the question, is it possible to find consistency with an inconsistent, busy or otherwise difficult schedule?

My belief is that you absolutely can, and my goal is to help you create habits that are so ingrained, even the never-ending curveballs of life can’t get in your way. In this blog post, we’ll explore practical tips to help you stay consistent with your health and wellness routine so that it becomes as easy and habitual as brushing your teeth each morning.

1. Set Small Goals. In the beginning, it’s tempting to want to go all in: sign up for 75 hard, get rid of all the sugary snacks in your pantry, buy a new workout wardrobe, commit to 5 HIIT classes per week… Trust me, I’ve been there. When you feel inspired and motivated to change, it’s exciting to take big steps towards your goal. Unfortunately though, drastic changes do not create consistency and almost always lead to burning out with your health & wellness routine. This is the root cause of the classic “on the wagon, off the wagon” problem that so many women face, so instead of going from 0 to 100 with your wellness goals, start small (like, smaller than you think). Instead of committing to a crazy intense challenge, aim for a 5% improvement from what you’re currently doing – an extra serving of vegetables or protein to your meals, a 20-minute daily walk, 1 workout class a week, etc. Setting small, realistic goals will help you play the long game and build momentum.

2. Drop the “all or nothing” mindset. Most people have the mindset that if you don’t do something 100%, it’s not worth doing at all. It sounds like a good quality, but it’s actually not helpful in the world of  consistency. Habits are the foundation for results, but habits need repetition, not perfection. In other words, completing a workout at 50% effort is so much better than doing nothing at all, because even if you didn’t perform as well as you could have, you didn’t break the chain. You kept the habit alive and added another brick to the foundation. Consistency is what creates results, but perfectionism is the killer of consistency, so do yourself a favor and let go of the “all or nothing” mindset. It’s not important that you do everything perfectly, it’s just important that you show up and do something.

3. Create a strong “why.” There will inevitably come a time when the sparkle of motivation fades, and you really don’t feel like taking action on your goals. These moments are pivotal, and though it may not seem like much to skip your workout that day, it will put a crack in the very fragile foundation of your habits. Having a strong “why” can help motivate you in times when you’re not feeling it (remember, doing a little bit is so much better than doing nothing!). To create your “why,” ask yourself: What is it that you want from living a healthy lifestyle? How do you want to feel? How will it feel when you reach your goals? How will it feel not to? Create a vision board and/or a mantra that will help you remember your “why” when life gets hard.

4. Find joy in your wellness routine. You, and me, and every human being on the planet are motivated by pleasure. If you’re eating bland, boring food and doing workouts you hate because it burns the most calories, consistency is going to be pretty much impossible. You have to find joy in your wellness routine if you want your healthy habits to last, because we are hardwired to repeat things that bring us joy! So whether it’s yoga, hiking, dancing, or pilates, choose the style of movement that makes you feel good, even if it may not be the most “effective.” When you enjoy what you’re doing, you’re more likely to stick with it in the long run.

5. Schedule it, but stay flexible.  While it’s helpful to plan out your week and schedule in your workouts/meals, it’s also important to stay flexible and adaptable. Life is unpredictable, and there will inevitably be times when you won’t be able to stick to your planned routine. Instead of getting down on yourself, try to adapt to the situation. Have to stay late at work? Take 10 minute walk breaks each hour. Happy hour plans came up with the girls? Suggest walking there together instead of cabbing. Set yourself up for plan B; keep extra workout clothes in the car so you can easily adapt your workout schedule when things get busy. Keep filling snacks in your purse for days when you’re on the go and need to stay fueled or avoid fatigue. Remember, progress > perfection.

6. Build a Support System. Having a strong support system can make a world of difference when it comes to staying consistent with your health and wellness routine. Share your goals with friends and family so they can support you on your wellness journey. Buddy up with a friend who enjoys the same workout classes so you can encourage and motivate each other. Join a running club or use apps like Strava to hype up your friends and share your journey with them. Make your wellness routine into a day with the girls: your fav workout class followed by a walk in the park with iced coffee or a mani pedi is the perfect way to spend quality time together.

7. Track Your Progress. Monitoring your progress can help you stay motivated and focused on your health and wellness goals, especially because you don’t always feel the changes right away. Use a habit tracker like this one so you can see the visual manifestation of your progress. Celebrate your achievements, no matter how small, and use setbacks as learning opportunities rather than a place to judge yourself.

8. Schedule in Rest. The biggest mistake I see when women are getting into their health and wellness routine is ignoring time for adequate rest and recovery. When you’re starting to get the hang of it and feel the changes, it can be really tempting to ignore rest and push yourself too hard, but remember that rest is an essential part of a consistent health and wellness routine. Without it, you will actually do more harm to your body & mind than good. Make time for activities that help you relax, reduce stress, and recharge. Meditation, reading, or taking a bath are just as important as fitness class and meal prep.

9. Play the longevity game. Building healthy habits takes time, patience, and persistence. There are no quick fixes here – you have to play the long game if you want to see real results. It’s easy to fall into the trap of popular dieting and weight loss trends that promote quick results in a short amount of time, but ask yourself, what happens when the diet is over? 99% of the time, you end up back where you started (or worse) with no real tools to create long lasting results. Remember, there will be days when you feel unmotivated or face challenges, but that’s normal. Stay focused on your goals, remind yourself of your ‘why,’ and keep pushing forward, one step at a time.

As you can hopefully see, consistency is everything when it comes to reaching your wellness goals. Unfortunately though, the modern approach to wellness seems to be creating more burnout than consistency. However, with the right mindset shifts consistency truly can become second nature, even in the most inconsistent of schedules. Exercise can become something you do as easily as brushing your teeth. Eating a healthy meal can become easy, joyful and stress-free. By dropping the all or nothing mindset, finding joy in your routine, staying flexible, and playing the long game with your health, you will create lasting habits that contribute to a healthier, happier you.