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Surviving the Routine

Even the strongest, longest running routines can be shaken by something minor. Sometimes it’s an injury, a vacation or, you just wake up one morning and no longer feel motivated. This time of year most of us are challenged with getting our kids and ourselves reacquainted with the back-to-school routine. Regardless of the routine you are trying to establish—or reestablish– here are a few tips to help get in to the groove.   

Get organized and make a plan

Routines are road maps to an end goal. That goal may be to loose weight, stay fit or, simply make it through the day without added stress. Goals are best approached by understanding what steps you will need to accomplish first, and then planning how you will accomplish each step. If you want to loose 10lbs, you know that you need to exercise and eat healthy. Plan out a weeks worth of healthy meals and schedule a weeks worth of exercising. Planning out what you need to do is the first step in committing to do it. The same goes with getting your kids from the bed to school to practice and back home to bed again. Have a calendar so both you and your kids know what the week (or daily) plan is. This limits surprises and helps to manage stress or the occasional “surprise” change in the schedule.

Crawl before you walk, and walk before you run

If you are establishing a new routine or it has been a very long time in between routines—like summer vacation—then you will need to ease back in to it. Routines take time to establish and, are best established in small steps. If your goal is to wake up an hour earlier to work out in the mornings, start with 30 minutes earlier a few days a week. When that becomes comfortable either add more days or, increase the time to 45 min and then an hour.  If your kids spent all summer going to bed at 11p and sleeping until 9a, make small adjustments first. Obviously they need to wake up and be ready before school, but try to help make that transition easier for them. If you can do things the night before that are typically done in the morning that will buy you both some time in the morning. Slowly start making them go to bed earlier and wake up earlier and, make sure you are up and ready before them. I know it means that you’ll have to wake up earlier but if you are ready, you can help them and it’ll make both of your mornings easier. If you want to loose 20lbs, start by trying to loose 5lbs, then 10lbs, and then 20lbs. This makes the process more manageable and, gives you more “wins” to keep you motivated.

Be positive and stay motivated

Motivation or negativity can permanently derail a routine. Both of those are reasons why you need to have a plan and start small. Being focused and earning small, daily wins will keep you positive and motivated as you embrace your new routine. As you develop your plan, build-in activities that will offer positive reinforcement or help keep you motivated. If you’re training, try training with a friend. You are less likely to bail on a friend than you are to bail on yourself. Afford yourself a treat or gift after so many days of staying on routine or, if you need a boost of motivation, by yourself something new that compliments your routine i.e. new fitness equipment or, for your kids, something for school or after-school activities. Positive reinforcement, even in small doses, will go a long way in helping you stay focused.

Remember, routines take time but are important to establish to help you achieve your goals. The most important step you can take in establishing any routine is to try to make it fun. Enjoying what you’re doing, either what you are training for or, by creating “fun elements” in a daily routine, will make establishing and sticking to a routine much easier.

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