So you’ve decided to start eating right and getting in shape? Good for you! unfortunately, deciding to do the right thing is always the easiest part. Actually DOING the right thing? That’s another story.
The world is full of stories of people who decided to join a gym, eat healthy and get in shape. Then, unfortunately – and in spite of their best intentions, they fell off the wagon for one reason or another and never got back on. Sometimes it was due to an “unavoidable” reason, like sickness or injury. Other times, it may have been a business trip, or vacation that derailed them. Every now and then, the fall from the wagon is more like a gleeful leap into the warm welcoming arms of an entire large pizza, or box of donuts (I can neither confirm nor deny any personal experience with this last one…)
The bottom line is, there are many reasons that we fall of our training schedules, and one day turns into one week, one week turns into one month, and suddenly, you’re no longer even bothering to pursue your fitness goals any longer. It’s a tale as old as time, and sadly, it happens all the time. Why? Because eating right and staying on a path to fitness is HARD. It’s uncomfortable to lift weights or run around outside if you’re not used to it. And saying no to fatty sugary foods can be really difficult because they’re EVERYWHERE – and if you live in America, you’re probably addicted to them without even realizing it.
Here’s the good news, it’s all a habit. Old habits can be broken, and new habits can be made. It just takes the help of your good friend ‘resolve’, and I’m here to give you my top ten tips on how to stay on track and make fitness a habit!
1) Figure out why you’re doing this.
Why do you want to do this in the first place? To get in shape? To be healthier? To live longer? To be more present for your kids and spouse? Decide why you really want to pursue this goal in the first place. Set that firmly in your mind. If it’s a visible goal (like your kids) carry around a photo, and look at it when you feel like giving up. When you feel doubt, or like cheating on your nutrition plan, remember why you’re doing this in the first place, and hang onto that!
2) Find something you really LOVE doing!
Think about point #1. What’s your goal, and what can you do to get there? So many people think about getting in shape and immediately think of running, or lifting weights. Those are only two ways to get in shape. What’s your goal though? Is it to get in good cardiovascular shape? OK, you could run, but you could sign up for an aerobics class, or swim, or take a cardio boxing class. Is strength your thing? OK, there’s certainly weight lifting, but there’s also Crossfit or bootcamp style workouts, maybe rock climbing. Just want general overall health? Maybe cycling is for you, or hiking, maybe a spin class, yoga or rowing. The point is there are a LOT of different ways to get to your goal, find one that sounds like fun and go for it! It’s like the old saying “If you love what you do, then it will never be work!”
3) Don’t fall for the “Everything in moderation” myth.
People love to say “everything in moderation” and they’re right to a degree. However, if you’re saying this to excuse a poor diet, it’s time to be honest with yourself about your “moderation”. Moderation means that the thing you’re doing is the exception to the rule. A little ice cream once a week is moderation, ice cream after every workout is sabotage . The danger with “everything in moderation” is that it can undo the hard work that you’re putting in. This can lead people to believe that what they’re doing isn’t working. So they give up and return to their old habits. The sad part is that they’re right. What they’re doing isn’t working. It’s just that instead of giving up on the bad habits that are sabotaging their good behaviors, they give up on the good behavior and return to the bad habits because that’s the easier path. So don’t hinder yourself. Especially when starting out, be strict with your diet and commitment to exercise and don’t fall for the moderation trap!
4) The only bad workout is the one that didn’t happen.
It’s easy to get down on yourself if you have a crappy workout – or two – or three. But the beauty of each day is it’s another chance to turn it around. Get back on track, and remember, ANYTHING is better than NOTHING. If you can only do one pushup, do one pushup. If you can only run for three minutes, run for three minutes. Just push yourself to do more, and if you’re truly pushing, then you WILL get better. What was once one or two, can become 8 or 10 or 30 or more. DON’T GIVE UP BECAUSE YOU HAVE A FEW BAD WORKOUTS. As cliche as it sounds, people call this a fitness journey because it is very much like a journey. It has an exciting start. Sometimes it can get a little boring once you’ve been at it for a while – so spice it up. Sometimes you may get lost – get back on the right road. Just like you wouldn’t stop in the middle of a journey you shouldn’t give up on your fitness journey in the middle just because you hit a bumpy road.
5) I don’t have time.
This is what we call an excuse. “I don’t have time” is bullshit. Sorry for the language, but its a crappy excuse to get you out of doing something you may have become disinterested in. “I don’t have time” – then get up an hour earlier. That’s plenty of time to make a change in your life. Instead of excuses, do the tough thing, be honest with yourself and find a way to re-engage yourself instead of making an excuse to quit.
6) It’s too hard.
This is just like #5. It’s an excuse. In fact, it’s supposed to be hard. Use this as motivation. If you were in better shape, maybe it (and a lot of other things) would be easier. If it’s hard, that means you’re probably doing it right. Your body is forged in the difficulty. Think about a blacksmith. Does he gently move the steel around, gently coaxing it into a useful tool? or does he heat it in the fire until its white hot and beat it with a hammer bending it until it becomes what he wants it to be? You are the blacksmith of your body. Your hard work in the gym, and making the right nutrition choices is like the forge and the hammer, forcing your body to become what your mind wills it to be. Get your mind right, re-focus yourself on your original goal, and use this to smash through the “It’s too hard” excuse.
7) I feel self conscious.
This is a VERY common excuse among new gym goers. What you need to realize is that it’s all in your head. Look, I don’t care if you’re fat or skinny, or somewhere in the middle. The fitness path is a VERY personal one. Those people at the gym who you think are looking at you either:
a) Aren’t looking at you because they’re too busy looking at themselves on their own personal journey. Either checking out their physiques or checking their form in the mirror.
b) Are looking at you because they’re inspired by you. The VAST majority of the people I’ve met at the gym (and there have been many!) are either looking at you because they wish they were more like you – or they’re inspired by you. I know that may sound hard to believe, but look, I’ve worked out for a while, and every time I see someone heavy in the gym, I’m absolutely inspired to push that much harder, as is everyone I know. Because I know how hard it is for me, and I know it’s even tougher for that person because they’re new on their journey, and the guts it takes to set foot in a gym earns them my instant respect and admiration.
So get past your self consciousness. Every person you see in the gym had to start somewhere and they were probably just like you at the beginning of their journey. Battling the same demons of nutrition, achy muscles and self doubt.
8) Meal prep Sundays!
To keep from falling off your nutrition game, plan out your meals on Sunday morning. Go to the store, and prepare a few healthy meals that make multiple servings. Divide them into storage containers with APPROPRIATE portions for the weeks meals and PRESTO! You’ll save a lot of time during the week by pre-making healthy meals, and also ensure that you stay on track. While you’re at it, pick up some healthy snacks at the store as well that you can eat to help you stay full and on track to meet your calorie goals.
Not sure what to shop for? Check out the post on macronutrients and use it as a guide. Find out how much you should be eating and track your calories and macros with an app like MyFitnessPal.
9) Remove temptation from your home!
Look, staying on your nutrition plan can be hard. It’s even harder if you keep bags of chips and cookies on hand telling yourself “Well, I just wont eat them!” Believe me, you will. If they’re around and you have a case of the 9pm hungries, they’ll be gone before you can even think about NOT eating them. Instead, do yourself a favor, when you start this path, get rid of the junk!
10) Set and be realistic with your goals.
It’s important to set small goals for yourself to use as benchmarks and to hold yourself accountable. Just make sure the goals are realistic. Don’t set yourself up for failure by saying “I’m going to lose 8 pounds a week!” You may be able to do this, but then again, you may not, or it may not be sustainable. This is a journey, and there are ups and downs, good weeks and bad weeks. Sometimes, a big goal is totally doable, but it’s likely not sustainable, and it could be dangerous. Nothing sabotages a fitness plan like failure. Instead, set smaller goals – and then try to outdo them! Think how great you’d feel if instead your goal was to lose 2 pounds a week, and you lost 8. You’d be over the moon! Crushing your goal and even more inspired to push forward next week!
So that’s it! Follow these tips, and one day, turns into one week, one week turns into one month, and suddenly, you’re a fitness guy or gal with a great new habit! What works for you? what are your tips – or pitfalls? Leave a comment below, you never know who’s life you may help to change!
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