The new year is always a promising start to the journey of improving upon who we were last year. And if there is one resolution we all should follow through with in 2018, it’s how to make fitness a permanent habit in our life. While an intimidating goal, becoming fit is not impossible, but rather a rewarding trial and error process that can turn into a positive and permanent lifestyle.
Health and fitness are essential to improving the quality of your life and well-being. We function and feel our best with good health and fitness habits because the effects translate into everything else in our lives. If you remain dedicated to exercising and staying healthy, you’re more likely to use that same diligent mindset when following through with other personal goals. Being fit also promotes better sleep, improves your sex drive, and boosts energy.
On the other hand, if we fail to take care of our health, we become more susceptible to developing diseases, health problems, and sickness—from heart disease, diabetes, and even depression—and no one wants that. This is why making fitness a habit is imperative to our well-being! Here are some tips that might help you get (and keep) the fitness habit.
Make concise goals and be realistic
Specify why you want to “get fit” in the first place. Having specific and concise goals gives you a clear direction to the steps that need to be taken in order to succeed. Ask yourself why you value health and fitness. Is it to lose weight and love what you see in the mirror? What about improving a current health condition? Do you want to focus more on self-care? Whatever the reasons may be, they are the foundation of your fitness journey and reminders of why you are starting it in the first place.
Furthermore, be realistic about your expectations and limitations. Suddenly becoming a pro at exercise and dieting will never be instantly gratified in a short amount of time, and you also won’t be able to suddenly run three miles after a long period of not being active. Therefore, don’t be so hard on yourself if you cannot exercise for more than thirty minutes, make the mistake of skipping out on a workout, or succumbing to the temptation of a guilty treat. Constantly berating yourself for not being perfect is severely discouraging and makes you more inclined to give up on accomplishing your goals. What ultimately matters is that you get back up again, don’t make excuses, and continue moving forward. No one starts out perfectly on the road to self-improvement—we’re all human after all!
Confront your bad habits and vices
While discerning to think about, acknowledging and overcoming bad habits and vices are necessary to improve our health. They are harmful actions that can become problematic coping mechanisms. For example, when you’re stressed and anxious, do you find yourself reaching for an alcoholic drink? In the moment, this action may seem harmless and temporarily relieves stress, but gradually, it has the potential to become an addiction. One glass of wine can turn into an episode of binge drinking. Majority of the time, a bad habit stems from stress or boredom. To break one, you must ask yourself why you have them in the first place. What triggers you to do them? What are the scenarios that happen? Once you figure out the catalyst of a bad habit, learn to replace it with a good one—such as exercise!
Stay organized and consistent with a workout schedule
Integrate fitness into your daily routine. If working out becomes a part of your schedule, you are less likely to falter from it. Additionally, conduct a game plan and purpose for each workout. Don’t mindlessly go to the gym and expect yourself to exercise to the best of your abilities. Otherwise, you end up wasting time or giving your workout a half-hearted effort since you didn’t have any clear goal in mind! Be realistic about the amount of time you have available within a day and throughout the week, too. Starting off with thinking you’re going to work out every day for one hour is setting yourself up for immediate disappointment. Instead, gradually lengthen the time you spend exercising and make exercise convenient for your lifestyle.
Plan out and prepare your meals ahead of time
In conjunction with a workout plan, you must plan out and prepare your meals ahead of time as well. Choose to consume more wholesome foods: fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, and proteins such as oils, meats, and nuts instead of processed foods. A common belief some individuals have is that they can eat whatever they desire as long as they work out and still yield the same results as a healthy diet. That is not the case. Processed foods fail to provide you with the essential vitamins and nutrients your body needs to function properly. Despite exercising and burning off a few calories, you’ll never lose weight nor improve your health—in fact, you may even make it worse!
Meal prepping kills the temptation of eating out or snacking on something unnecessary. By dedicating a day or two to preparing meals for a week, you remove the stress of worrying about what to eat or cook for dinner since everything is already prepared for you. This way, you can also adequately consume your recommended macros and accurately track your diet progress.
Participate in an activity that you enjoy
If you choose a workout that makes you miserable, you will never feel motivated to participate in it. Think about who you are as a person. Do you prefer activities that are slow and leisurely, or aggressive and fast-paced? You might be better suited to partake in yoga or hiking as opposed to experiencing combat sports. Whatever your fitness personality may be, don’t be afraid to experiment with multiple activities. It may take some time, but don’t get discouraged if activities don’t click right away. Once you find the exercise perfect for you, everything can only go uphill from there. Evidently, enjoying what you’re doing encourages you to improve upon your current skills and challenge yourself to surpass previous limitations.
Celebrate each accomplishment or milestone, no matter how big or small
Every accomplished goal is a step forward on a fitness journey, and the worst disservice you can do yourself is undercut your successes. This form of negative thinking is more harmful than helpful since it devalues your efforts. Learn to support, affirm, and be proud of yourself, rather than critical. Furthermore, avoid the trap of comparing yourself to others. Each person is at a different place in their lives and fitness journeys, and you are no different. It’s tedious to believe you must be successful or healthy in a fixed amount of time.
Track your progress
Implement the use of a journal or app to track workouts and diet. You should even take progress pictures every week! Your progress acts as a motivator since consistent effort yields noticeable results over time. The act of tracking progress can also help you notice patterns, habits, or inconsistencies that can be changed in your workouts or diets for the better. For example, you may tend to skip exercising and a meal-prepped lunch more on the weekends since that’s when you socialize most with friends and family. This problem can be solved by choosing not to see them during the day when you’re about to eat or get hungry. While tracking progress may initially seem laborious, it forces you to be disciplined and constantly aware of your efforts.
Remember, habits are everyday efforts—and fitness is one that is no different.
Staying consistent with health and fitness is not just a New year’s resolution, it’s an act of taking care of yourself. Prioritizing your health and fitness is difficult at first, but once you get the hang of your workout routine and eating habits, everything gets easier from there.