In Good Habits We Trust

It’s easy to berate yourself for skipping workouts and to worry about backsliding. Diet and fitness writers always remind readers not to beat yourself up, but to get back on the wagon and keep your eyes on your goals. I want to add the idea that if you’ve been exercising regularly, exercise has probably become a habit. You can probably trust this good habit to persist in the same way that bad habits seem to do. If you’ve seen exciting rewards from exercising, it makes even more sense to think this good habit will stay with you.
I’ve had some unusual stress recently that has prevented me from sleeping well. Anxiety and lack of sleep has made me feel so depleted that I’ve skipped some of my workout classes, which are challenging even when I’m well rested.
Each time I skip a workout, I wonder if I’m going into a backslide and am about to start gaining weight again. But I can look back over many years and see clear patterns in my exercise habits. Many active routines, such as bike commuting or going to the Y, became boring after a while, or I needed a break for some other reason. Looking back, each time I took a break, I always returned to the routine (or found a new one, if I needed a change). My activity level was not always high enough to keep me fit and trim, but still, the habit of being active always persisted.
Lately, with the boxing workouts, the exercise habit has been strengthened by its rewards, which I have no intention of giving up. The rewards, increased fitness, strength, and athletic abilities, reinforce the good habit that caused them. I’m more committed than ever to staying as fit as I can through activities I enjoy.
During this tired week, when I’ve started to feel like a couch potato, I’ve asked myself what I’ve actually done each day. Almost every day that didn’t include a boxing workout included a bike ride, yard work, a long walk, or any combination of the three. I know I can trust in the active habits I’ve developed and know that I’ll go back to the gym as soon as I’m ready.