How to Form a Habit

in All Posts

1.  Tell everyone you know you’re going to form a new habit (like the Intro to Iron Pumping Challenge).

2. Set an attainable, realistic goal (like lift weights three times a week following a clearly organized plan).

3. Don’t set yourself up to fail (like by promising you’ll lift five days a week!).  Oh, and don’t beat yourself up when you actually fail.  It’s OK. 🙂

4. Make yourself do the new habit for at least two months.  Just do it!  Two months of lifting, running, yoga, walking, whatever – it won’t kill you.  It’s just two months.

5. After that, you likely have a new habit.  Congrats!  🙂


Clearly, I had to talk myself into doing the Intro to Iron Pumping Challenge Workout tonight, but I am so glad I did.  Around 7 PM, I looked up from my work and realized if I didn’t leave for the gym RIGHT NOW, it was never going to happen.  So, I stood up and left.  I didn’t really want to go – but I’m trying to form a new habit!


Day 6: Back and Biceps

  • Warm Up: 5 minutes of cardio
  • Seated Row: 3 x 12 with 45 pound weights
  • Lat pulldown: 3 x 12 with 45 pound weights
  • Stability Ball Ys and Ts (alternate between “Y” and “T”): 2 x12 for “Y” and 2 x 12 for “T”
  • 21s: 1 set of 21’s with 30 pounds; 1 set of 21’s with 20 pounds
  • Stability Ball Back extension: Skipped this move
  • Frog crunches: 10 crunches
  • Hammer curls: 3 X 12 with 5 pounds
  • Oblique V-up: 30 crunches for each side with 5 pound weight


I felt a little awkward in the weights area today.  I haven’t really gone to the gym so late at night on a weekday and was surrounded by super muscley men.  I consoled myself by wearing my marathon tech tee.  :)  It made me feel a wee bit more badass as I did the seated row.


Came home and made dinner:


Kind of an odd dinner:  1.5 serving of baked beans, roasted mushrooms with soy sauce, roasted potatoes with ketchup, and a mini whole wheat bagel with cheese.


Roasted mushrooms are GOOD!


My pre-workout snack was a bunch of almonds:


My mid-afternoon snacks included PB toast:


And an orange:


It’s time for… AMERICAN IDOL!


What are the keys to forming a new good habit?



  • Tyler Ramey January 26, 2010, 9:20 pm

    YUM on the mushrooms. Gotta try that. I told my bloggies I was going to make overnight oats tonight…any suggestions for a particularly yummy version??? Have a good one!

    -Blog Boy 😉

  • katie January 26, 2010, 9:22 pm

    ooo girlfrand howd u roast those shroooms?! those sound GREAT!

    • caitlin January 26, 2010, 9:40 pm

      25 minutes at 400 coated in a little evoo. thats it!

      • Jennifer January 26, 2010, 10:57 pm

        I’m glad I saw this as I was going to ask how you cooked them. Always on the lookout for new veggies to roast….I’ve yet to find a veggies that doesn’t pair well with EVOO & a little S&P! Thanks!

  • Jenna January 26, 2010, 9:25 pm

    Random dinner looks great!

  • Kelly January 26, 2010, 9:28 pm

    How long did you roast the mushrooms for? They look delicious!

  • Meghan@traveleatlove January 26, 2010, 9:28 pm

    It always helps me to write my progress down. Nom, I looooove roasted potatoes, def one of my favorite foods.

  • Molly @vegandorm January 26, 2010, 9:29 pm

    I hate raw mushrooms, but roasted mushrooms are sooooo good!

    Girl, do you think any of those muscley guys could have run a marathon?
    I think not. Way to go on wearing the tshirt to pump you up 😉

  • Daryl January 26, 2010, 9:30 pm

    I love that you feel more ‘badass’ by wearing a marathon t-shirt at the gym and should! I used to lift weights more, but now as a distance runner when I’m in the gym I am sure those weightlifters think I’m nuts training for a marathon.

  • Katy ( The Balanced Foodie ) January 26, 2010, 9:31 pm

    Mmmmmm, roasted mushrooms. I love roasted veggies, next up is mushrooms! Good job working to form that habit, how you can type at this point I don’t’re definitely bad ass, those muscle men have nothing on you.

  • Jessica @ The Process of Healing January 26, 2010, 9:31 pm

    Your dinner actually sounds great!! And I adore roasted mushrooms! Any vegetable takes on a whole new flavor when roasted. Great way to get your veggies in, make them incredibly delicious!

    And that is precisely why i’ve always been scared of weights. I feel so out of place and silly. I should get over that.

    I think the key is to have a habit that is realistic, don’t set yourself up for failure, like you said.

  • Evan Thomas January 26, 2010, 9:32 pm

    It’s great you’re getting so into this! Results will come in no time. I’m hoping that getting in to running will be just as easy after my 5 week hiatus. I was doing 13 miles a day before break, but now 7 miles tomorrow sounds daunting.

  • Alisha January 26, 2010, 9:37 pm

    Part of the reason why I don’t like strength training is because I to feel awkward working out in an area that is mostly filled with men. To change that I’ve stopped shying away from looking in the mirrors. Now I plant myself in front of the mirrors and take a good look at my efforts. Distract yourself with your hard work.

  • Casey@SpicyandSweet January 26, 2010, 9:39 pm

    I visualize all the perceived benefits of my new habit right before I set out to do it…such as, watching myself cross the finish line in a marathon when I’m not wanting to run. It helps so much!

  • Heather @ Side of Sneakers January 26, 2010, 9:43 pm

    Key for me: not throwing in the towel just because you missed a day

  • Morgan @ Life After Bagels January 26, 2010, 9:47 pm

    see I love going to the gym when it’s all the muscley guys . . . cause it means that all the little weights are available for me . . . I hate waiting for stuff at the gym!

  • Madeline @ GreensAndJeans January 26, 2010, 9:47 pm

    For me it’s all about not giving up. If I take two days off in a row unscheduled, getting back into it is killer!

  • Jessica @ How Sweet It Is January 26, 2010, 9:49 pm

    After working in a gym for years, I STILL feel weird in the gym at 5-7pm time. All the meatheads are there.

  • Matt January 26, 2010, 9:53 pm

    I think to form a habit, you have to actually want it to become a habit, like your weight lifting thing. I think that is key 🙂

  • ashleigh January 26, 2010, 9:55 pm

    OMG today was the first day I did free weights at my gym at night. I was so uncomfortable because that area is VERY small and I go to a cheap gym in Boston so you can only imagine how crowded it was. I just kept telling myself to keep going because I wouldn’t want to do free weights when I got home! Plus there were actually a few girls in the area… last time I went during lunch and I was the only girl there!

    How I start habits is to tell myself that it’s going to get easier everyday that I actually do it.

  • Danielle (Coffee Run) January 26, 2010, 10:02 pm

    I’ve never tried roasted mushrooms…but I can’t think of why not?!
    I love the tips for forming a good habit 🙂

  • Carolyn January 26, 2010, 10:03 pm

    I’m with you. I hate how the men always act like the free weights are THEIR area!

  • Karla January 26, 2010, 10:04 pm

    Great tips! I’ll definitely be passing these along to friends and family!

    I totally understand being awkward at the gym. A lot of times I’m the only woman in the weight area but I’m starting to get used to it! We are just as strong as they are! No need to feel awkward!

  • Katie@ Two Lives, One Lifestyle January 26, 2010, 10:12 pm

    Writing it down on a calendar is helpful, and now having a blog that other people read helps me stick to goals. This lifting day of the “Iron Pump” is my least fave one, I like the triceps/shoulders day. Not sure why, but I find it hard to motivate myself for this day, too!

  • Kate January 26, 2010, 10:12 pm

    I love to write my progress down in a note book or post it somewhere where it is easy to see. It makes it become a game and extremely motivating when I see my miles pile on or my workouts add up.

  • Erin (Travel, Eat, Repeat) January 26, 2010, 10:19 pm

    It definitely helps to public announce something, whether it’s a workout plan or just a various goal. When you know people are watching to see whether or not something gets completed, that adds some NECESSARY pressure. 🙂

  • Deva (Voracious Vorilee) January 26, 2010, 10:36 pm

    I love lifting in the evening – It took getting used to for me, because the muscley guys can be intimidating but everyone tends to be focused on their own workout. I now chat with some of the guys who workout around when I do!

  • Meghan @ Spreading the Health January 26, 2010, 10:40 pm

    I totally wear my race T-shirts when I work out, too. 🙂 But sometimes it’s fun being the only girl lifting weights with all the guys!

  • Sam (Merit to the Carrot) January 26, 2010, 10:45 pm

    I hate mushrooms, but yours look VERY good. So I will have to give them another shot 🙂

  • Jolene ( January 26, 2010, 10:47 pm

    To form a habit I need to do something for at least a month – that is key for me … 2, even better!

    I love roasted mushrooms more than any other veggie perhaps … although roasted asparagus kicks serious ass!

  • Katharine January 26, 2010, 11:02 pm

    I think you’re exactly right – just DOING it and not thinking about it helps get in the habit. I was awful at washing my face before bed, but one of my 2010 goals was to stop being lazy and just DO IT. And it’s now something I don’t even think about not doing. (Now I just need to apply this to my 5K training…)

  • Sara January 26, 2010, 11:33 pm

    Wear that marathon t-shirt proud girl!

  • Heather (Heather's Dish) January 27, 2010, 1:02 am

    it needs to be related to a specific goal, and must be realistic. otherwise i just lose interest and go back to the old habits!

    great post! 🙂

  • Naomi January 27, 2010, 1:27 am

    Your comment “I consoled myself by wearing my marathon tech tee.” made me LOL! Good on you 🙂

  • Freya @ January 27, 2010, 3:04 am

    That’s some great tips there!! I agree with them all for forming a habit – sometimes you do just have to force yourself, but soon it’s so routine you don’t think about it 🙂
    Love your dinner, that look delish!

  • Freya @ January 27, 2010, 3:05 am

    Oh, and I have the same problem at my uni gym if I go – pumped up guys groaning at themselves in front of a mirror, it’s very off putting!

  • Jessica @ Fit Chick Wannabe January 27, 2010, 4:52 am

    Thanks for the tips on forming a habit! I need those right now because I am just starting my quest for getting healthy.

    Also – I hate the weight room at the gym, too. I am SOOOOOO uncomfortable. I shouldn’t be, because I know what to do and how to do it, I just feel that those stupid muscle-y boys are staring at me wondering why I’m down there lol. I went to a personal trainer for a few sessions a few months ago, and was down there with him, and one of the men actually came up to us and said that we should be working out upstairs in the aerobics room. Thanks guy, that didn’t really help!

  • Jessica @ WHY DONTCHA RUN January 27, 2010, 7:13 am

    Don’t talk yourself down. You’re your own worst enemy. *Happy/positive thoughts* are key!

  • Sarah (Running to Slow Things Down) January 27, 2010, 7:28 am

    I think it’s important to really *want* that change, and not to just feel that you should want it. There’s a big difference. 😉

    And setting mini-goals to reach that habit sometimes help too. So, for example, if I was a newbie to exercising, I might *want* to run 3 days a week, but making a mini-goal of 2 days allows flexibility to start with.

    Happy Hump Day! 😀

  • kate January 27, 2010, 7:41 am

    great tips! forming a habit is 90% mental, anyways!

  • Laura Georgina January 27, 2010, 8:27 am

    I’m with you on announcing it to the world–it’s much harder to wimp out when you know others are looking to see how it’s going.

    Don’t worry about the weight room muscleheads–I’m sure you’d leave them in the dust after a mile of running!

  • Maya January 27, 2010, 8:42 am

    I have been having the same thoughts lately as I do the Intro to Iron Pumping at the gym seeing the muscly guys! Great tips also.

  • Jessica January 27, 2010, 8:45 am

    I agree about feeling weird in the weight room- I always feel awkward with a bunch of guys in the weight room, or when there are trainers training a client- I always feel like they’re going to come up to me and tell me I’m doing something wrong! Anyway, my question is, do you ever feel awkward doing the “non-weight” strength training moves in the weight room? I tend to avoid strength training moves in the gym that don’t involve the equipment because, again, I don’t want people looking at me funny or taking up too much space- the weight room at my gym is super small and there’s not much room. How do you deal with that?

    • Caitlin January 27, 2010, 8:47 am

      I think I might address this more at lunch since it obvi struck a nerve with people! The weird thing is that I normally do not give a shit what other people think of me. It’s just when I’m using the free weights that I care. I wonder why… Hmm. Will discuss more later.

  • Anna @ Newlywed, Newly Veg January 27, 2010, 8:49 am

    Announcing it to the world makes a big difference to me, especially now that “my world” includes my blog, and not just my dogs and husband 🙂

  • Fitography January 27, 2010, 8:55 am

    Hey Caitlin! I’m doing the Intro to Iron Pumping too:) Although I’ve been a bit off this week because of a sore throat. Boo!

  • Karissa @ CardioFoodie January 27, 2010, 9:06 am

    I follow your Habit #1, I tell people, that way I am more accountable. I occasionally try to rope in my husband into my new habits as well.

  • Katherine January 27, 2010, 9:07 am

    Caitlin! You are a constant inspiration to me. I’ve been a lurker for a while, but have been “coming out” lately. I just wanted you to know that each time I consider skipping the gym out of laziness (not legitimate fatigue or injury), I think of you telling me to just do it! Thank you for pumping me up after a long work day when it would be soo easy not to go 🙂

    • Caitlin January 27, 2010, 9:09 am

      yay i am glad you are delurking 🙂 hahah and i will be your little workout angel on your shoulder anytime 🙂

  • sarah January 27, 2010, 9:10 am

    I so identify with number one! That’s how I got my ass to apply to grad school – told anyone who would listen. It sounds kind of lame that the shame of telling people you punked out on your goals keeps you working, but in the end, all that matters is that you got it done. Although I hope grad school doesn’t become a habit for me. Ha.

  • Sarah @ See Sarah Eat January 27, 2010, 9:13 am

    Man those potatoes look good!

    I did a similar thing a few weeks ago when I wanted to get yoga back into my life. I stated it on the blog (for accountability) and I promised to do it 4 times a week, which out of 7 days is realistic for me. After three weeks, it has become second nature so I’ve no doubt that I’ll be able to keep it up for a while.

  • Jenny January 27, 2010, 9:31 am

    Great habit forming tips! I think the most important one is to not beat yourself up about it–that only leads to a desire to quit altogther. I would also say that for me to form a habit, my number one “rule” is that I have a plan. Because without a plan, my mind becomes overwhelmed and just will not think as effeciently.

  • Nicole, MS, RD, LD January 27, 2010, 9:46 am

    Making a schedule and sticking to it!

  • Cassie January 27, 2010, 10:35 am

    Caitlin – great tips! I really need to get back in the habit of going to the gym consistently…. It was so much easier to stick to something when it was warm and sunny in the morning instead of cold and dark. Now that i’ve slipped away from going to the gym 4X-week, I’ll have to really take these tips to heart! Thanks for the reminder to buckle down and just do it 🙂

  • Retta @ RunRettaRun January 27, 2010, 10:37 am

    Announcing a goal is always a good way to hold yourself accountable! Even if I announce it to my sisters or hubby . . .something about saying it out loud.

  • Jenny @ nutmegger January 27, 2010, 10:56 am

    I sometimes feel so awkward doing weight lifting moves! Some of them just look straight up wierd. Since I don’t have a marathon tee to wear I try to just pretend I know exactly what I’m doing I’m so focused that I don’t notice anyone around me…it works sometimes!

  • Jamie January 27, 2010, 12:31 pm

    i’m in a phsychopharmacology class and we were talking about addiction: it’s proven that it often takes an alcoholic 5-7 relapses to really get over an addiction (because of changes in your brain function.. yadaydaya)! my point? it’s really tough to form habits (or reform them) but you’ve laid out some great steps to ensure success!

  • Amanda January 27, 2010, 12:57 pm

    The mushrooms looks delicious! I like to spray a little balmasic vinegar on mine as well. I might have to make that soon now that you’ve reminded me.

  • Amanda January 27, 2010, 12:57 pm

    The mushrooms looks delicious! I like to spray a little balmasic vinegar on mine as well. I might have to make that soon now that you’ve reminded me.

  • Cynthia (It All Changes) January 27, 2010, 5:40 pm

    Just doing it and keeping records were key to me. When I started running I had a plan and recorded each run. I just went and did it and slowly got better. It was key to loving and doing it more.

  • Julia January 27, 2010, 6:12 pm

    call me weird, but I actually prefer to be in the weights room with the men. Why? well, for one I feel bad ass. Also, the men are SO focused on their own lifting they hardly are looking around (unlike women- – OMG how their eyes wander!) Also, I figure the guys are just happy to see some boobies, they don’t care what I’m doing in there, lol. In fact, working out infront of women makes me more nervous; many of them will be um…. “checking out the competition”… know what I mean? Keep at the weights girl~!

  • Carlyn January 27, 2010, 6:52 pm

    So what brand of mini whole wheat bagels do you get? They seem like the perfect size, the “100-calorie” ones are too small and the normal ones are too big!

    • Caitlin January 27, 2010, 7:00 pm

      they are the 100 cal ones 🙂 guess they look bigger in photographs!

Previous post:

Next post:

Healthy Tipping Point