The Power of 5: Stick To Your Habits Long-Term

We've all felt that excitement and initial motivation to start a new fitness routine, get up earlier, eat less sugar, increase our consumption of veggies, drink more water or {insert your desired habit here}. We set our alarms, buy new athletic wear, grocery shop for the week, or get a new water bottle we love, hoping our ability to prepare and our best intentions will finally be enough for us to stick to our new habit!

Is it safe to say though that far too often we get about 3 days in and something throws our routine off, we're invited to dinner with friends, or the kids kept you up late last night and the thought of a workout seems impossible because you're already ready for a nap and it's only 11 o'clock in the morning? I've been there. If you haven't, I commend you and would love to ask what your secret is for being able to stick to your routine no matter what life throws your way!

If you're like me though, you've probably tried so many strategies, tips, and tricks that you've either found scouring the internet, shared in reputable blog posts, or offered by your friends, family, or fitness coach, hoping it will be the ONE that sticks. Finally!

I don't know what strategies you've been offered in the past, but up until now none of them have proven to work for me, so I thought I would share what I have found to finally work for me in hopes it will work for you too!

Instead of tackling my habit with the approach that many of us take with our New Year's Resolutions, I switched my mindset to what I call "The Power of 5". It's the term I use to refer to approaching your new habit 5 days at a time. Don't think about 6 months from now, don't think about even 6 days from now - focus on 5 days at a time.

Why 5 days? Why not 3, why not 7? It's a psychological thing for many people that maintaining a habit for 3 days seems "too easy", but maintaining a habit for a full week feels overwhelming. I don't know why, but 5 days just became the sweet spot for me to be able to focus on my new habits and actually implement them into my daily routine.

My new habit that I wanted to build was taking my Greens Supplement every single morning. As a nutritionist, I would LOVE to tell you that I get in adequate vegetables every day and that I'm a fanatic for roasted broccoli, but that would be a lie. I do thoroughly enjoy roasted vegetables and sometimes I make an entire sheet pan and eat 1/2 of it as my lunch, but MOST days, I'm lacking in my vegetable intake, so I wanted to include a greens powdered supplement I could take daily to ensure I'm meeting my daily veggie intake!

I started on a Wednesday (super random, I know, but why wait to start on a Monday when you can start NOW!) and all I did were these 3 things:

  1. I purchased a greens supplement I was actually excited about! If your trying to build a habit, you need to find ways to make it enjoyable - if it's not enjoyable in the first 3 days, how do you expect it to be enjoyable for the rest of your life?

  2. I wrote down the habit I wanted to carry out in my planner so every morning when I look to see what my day entails, I'm reminded! (If you don't use a planner, I would recommend posting a sticky note somewhere you look every day so you will be reminded.)

  3. I set out my greens supplement on the counter next to where I make my morning coffee, so it's not an "out of sight, out of mind" situation.

What I noticed (as I anticipated) is on day 3 I felt like the new habit was "easy", which made me feel empowered that I was already crushing my goals (and with ease!). When I thought about how many more days I had to go (remember we're thinking in terms of 5), I felt extremely motivated and actually excited because 2 more days seemed like a piece of cake! It's just 2 more days, I can totally make it 2 more days!

You might be thinking, 'this sounds like something I want to try, but taking a supplement once a day is a lot easier than working out every day or cutting back on sugar or (insert your habit here)'. That's totally fair! Some habits are naturally going to be easier to adopt than others, but it's the concept I'm trying to help you with in how you frame your goal so you can stick to it long-term. Also! I just want to take a quick moment and share that life happens and we will never be able to 100% be in our routines and our habits, BUT we can work on disciplining ourselves to adopt and maintain habits that we will adhere to 90% of the time. And a lot of that does come from how we view habits and their effect on our life.

For example: If you're trying to cut back on sugar starting in August and you're already worried about what you're gonna do when pumpkin pie is being served at Thanksgiving, your mind is going to trick you into thinking this goal is too difficult before you even get started! When Thanksgiving comes around that will most likely become a day that fits into the 10% of when you aren't able (or rather don't want to) maintain your habit, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't get started now while you have three months to implement it so that after Thanksgiving day you can get back on track!

Okay, I'll get off the soap-box now, but in all honesty, I hope that you will find success in this trick the same way that I have because I know how frustrating it is to try and stick to a goal and over and over again you feel like you've failed.

The last thing I will say is that if your goal is not as "easy" as taking a new supplement every morning - let's say instead it's getting in a 30 minute workout every day, here's how those 3 tips could look for you:

  1. Purchase a pre-workout or a protein powder that really excites you! (I recently purchased a bottle of Pumpkin Pie protein powder and as soon as it arrived, I wanted to do a workout so I could make a post-workout shake and give it a try!)

  2. Carve out 30 minutes in your day (ideally at the same time) to do your workout and write it in your planner, put it on your Google calendar, set an alarm, or put a sticky note somewhere where you're guaranteed to see it. (I once put a sticky note on my pantry door so after work, when I went to make dinner, I was reminded to do my workout beforehand so dinner could be my post-workout meal)

  3. Dress the part - it will instantly motivate you because you're already ready to go. Many days I don't have the energy to do a workout, as soon as I change into my favorite leggings I already feel more committed to making it happen

I encourage you to try this trick and see if it works for you as well as it worked for me! It's always discouraging when you have so much motivation and it quickly falls away from your mind convincing you it's too hard. This 5 day trick has given me a lot of empowerment and I hope you'll feel the same!