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To-do lists as a habit building tool

As we approach the one year anniversary of the huge shift in our existence brought about by COVID. I'm actually still happily working from home. I'm an introvert, I love being with my dogs everyday and having some extra time to work on my own goals. I'm productive at home and have built systems and routines that really allow me to thrive. The athletes I coach are scattered across the country so were all virtual anyway. I've found that I'm actually better able to communicate with them now that we're all used to Zoom as a way of life.

Strength work was an important habit I needed to build

Over the last 12 months I've been able to establish habits that have been long overdue in implementing. So I'll share what's working because it might be helpful to you but I know that one day I will need to be reminded of how I got here and how to find my way back.

What did I do?

I made a list. Well there is slightly more to it than that but if I'm going to condense what's worked into very simple terms then thats it. As a result I'm 35lbs lighter, fitter than I've ever been, feeling energized, strong and mentally in great shape. The idea behind the list is to build routines and routines that stick are established with consistency. So I wrote a list of what I thought an ideal day would look like. I imagined:

If I was the person I strive to be...what would my day look like?
Strength work using a TRX

I went into lots of detail and it included small manageable things like, I would like to drink herbal tea every day. Why? Because there are many health benefits, I enjoy it, and its a great hydrator. I need to feed the damn fish everyday, that greatly benefits the fish, when I forget I feel bad. If you own a fish, you should feed it. I'd listen to one podcast episode a day, I have 6 podcasts I love, ranging in topics, but they inspire me, I learn from them and I enjoy listening to them. These are all the sort of tasks that I would just forget to do, they're relatively easy to complete but often slip my mind. My list, which is one of the first things open every day, simply reminds me I must do these things. When I do them, I check them off the list for the day.

Yoga Practice for Cyclists
Adding daily yoga

Then there are the more complex tasks that might need to be broken down into much smaller pieces to begin with. Strength training is one such task. Strength training makes me a better cyclist, it's very important for women's bone health as we age, it's a great way to prevent injury and much much more. But I hadn't been doing it. So I started with only one exercise. That was all I had to do to check off my strength training, so each day for about 2 weeks I did a TRX Squat Lat Pull. The exercise itself is a good one but what I was doing mattered less than starting to build the habit. After two weeks I added a second exercise, a seated squat if I recall. So each day I did my TRX squat lat pull and seated squat, check, task done. Really not much more work than feeding the ever fattening fish. By week four I added a third exercise, week five I added six. By week eight I had what would be widely considered a full strength workout that I was doing consistently. I'm lucky that I have Adam to help me build effective strength workouts, he's the mastermind behind the exercises I'm doing. The more I did each task, the more my confidence grew in my ability to do it and the closer it became to being thoroughly established as a daily routine.

I have a daily task tracker that I use and would be happy to send you. Follow this link to leave me your email and I'll send it to you.

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