I don't like doing laundry. It's time-consuming, inconvenient, and annoying. So for a long time, I was in the habit of waiting until my laundry basket was overflowing with smelly gym clothes before I washed them. This resulted in a 4-6 hour commitment to washing, drying, folding, and putting away clothes.
So about a year ago, I decided to try a new method. When there was one load of laundry in the basket, I would do it. This change resulted in doing one load of laundry about twice a week rather than six loads of laundry once a month.
The new method was a way of keeping up with a tedious chore versus catching up on an overwhelming chore that had been ignored. And the same method can be used for diet and exercise habits!
Keep up with your healthy habits is easier and more effective than trying to catch up by making dramatic sweeping changes that are unlikely to stick.
If you're looking for a way to live healthier and establish healthy habits, consider adopting the keeping up mentality.
What does the keeping up mentality mean? Read below and find out for yourself.
What is the Keeping Up Mentality?
You've set a goal to walk 30-minutes a day, five days a week for six months. But after three weeks you're feeling less motivated about your goal. You think to yourself, "what if I only walk three days this week but then I walk six days next week?"
The keeping-up mentality would tell you that it's easier to stick with your five days a week routine than trying to use make-up days next week. Even if the walk was 10 minutes instead of 30 minutes, you're still keeping up the healthy habit.
Sticking with a habit, even a very difficult one, is easier when you don't have to catch up. The longer you delay starting your habit or put it on pause, the more daunting it becomes to restart or catch up for the missed time.
People love to procrastinate because it allows them to experience joy, pleasure, and relaxation now and put off discomfort, hard work, or pain until later. This phenomenon is responsible for a lottttt of the bad choices we make, including the catching up mentality.
Let's take a closer look at keeping up vs catching up as it relates to eating healthy and exercising.
Have you ever found yourself thinking or saying, "I can overeat this weekend and then eat really healthy during the week to make up for it"? But then taco Tuesday happens and you think, "I can eat nachos and sip on a margarita (or four) and then have a really healthy two weeks".
Delaying your good habits or trying to make up for bad behavior with good behavior is all part of the catch-up mentality. And not only does it make long-term change harder, it actually drains your willpower even more.
When we cycle through good and bad eating days, weeks, months, etc., and then try to catch up, the change is big and overwhelming. But when we build small good habits and keep up with them, the change is almost imperceptible.
Consistent, moderate exercise is better than inconsistent exercise of any intensity. Whether you're exercising for weight loss, strength, or cardiovascular health, you need to stick with an exercise habit to succeed.
And in the world of fitness, there are very few ways to catch up. When you miss several workouts, your fitness level suffers. And even if you go super hard at the gym for three days after missing a week, you're likely not going to see the same results as if you had stuck to the plan.
So even if your exercise goals are small, keep up with them. There is nothing more challenging than psyching yourself up for a workout after taking an exercise hiatus of a few weeks or months.
Keep Up Don't Catch Up on Healthy Habits
The very idea of healthy habits is built on keeping up. A habit is repeated, without exception (or very few exceptions), as a result of a cue or trigger. To make a behavior a habit, you have to keep doing it. So, sporadically catching up on a behavior is not, by definition, a habit.
Consider examples in your own life where you delay a small activity and it turns into a big activity. Do you find yourself wishing that you had taken smaller steps earlier? You're not alone - many of us struggle with this same pattern.
But you have the power to change. How? By adopting a keeping up mentality in your own life and by building healthy habits.
Still not sure you can make this change on your own? Consider hiring a health coach to help you!