When organizations such as the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition publish statistics like ones that say only one-third of adults get the recommended amount of physical activity every week, do you ever wonder why the other two-thirds don’t exercise? Most people just accept the numbers without giving them a second thought, while some go the judgmental route and assume the non-active people are just lazy. However, it could simply be that they never got in the habit of exercising.
If you analyze your day, you will see that your habits get you through it. You put the same amount of sugar in your coffee each morning, and you probably have the same food for breakfast almost every day. You leave for work at the same time, and your evening routine is probably somewhat scheduled and automatic, too, right down to the time you go to bed.
Being a creature of habit isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Habits can actually work to your advantage, and the really great thing is that you can change ones that don’t benefit you or form new ones that do work for your good. Life coaches and inspirational speakers motivate people by listing habits of highly successful people. Why not get motivated by imitating the habits of the fit and healthy?
Make a Commitment
People who are fit and healthy don’t play hit and miss with their food choices and workouts. They don’t view eating healthy and exercising as something they’ll do for a couple of weeks once or twice a year long enough to lose weight. Instead, they recognized long ago that being fit does not come from a crash diet or boot camp. It is a lifestyle, and they commit to it.
Give Yourself Some Slack
Making a lifestyle change doesn’t mean no more goodies or never getting a day off from the gym. It’s actually the reverse. According to LIVESTRONG, highly fit people go into their fit and healthy lifestyle change with significant slack built in known as the 85/15 Rule. It means eating healthy most of the time, but allowing themselves to indulge up to 15 percent of the time. In seven days, that translates to one entire cheat day or three to four cheat meals spread out over the week. That makes healthy choices way more doable.
As for working out to lose weight or just stay in shape, give yourself some leeway there, too. Set a high and low goal, such as working out three to five days each week and plan the days and times, too. That way, if you can only get in three days of exercising before life intervenes, you can feel good about having met your goal. On the other hand, if you can get in four or five days consistently, you can consider those weeks exceptionally successful and can feel even better about missing a few days on your “short” weeks.
Make it Fun
Fun exercise might sound like an oxymoron, but fit people know that workouts they enjoy are ones that they’ll be more likely to stick with. In an interview with Parade Magazine, Biggest Loser Trainer Bob Harper says workouts that challenge him are what he considers fun. Take a kickboxing class or do your cardio on a computerized bike with animated scenery–or even take your workout outdoors. You can also turn your exercise into a competition whether it is with a workout buddy or with yourself. See how much farther you can bike or run, or how long it takes you to move up to the next heavier dumbbells in the gym. When you can start to enjoy your workouts, you’ll be amazed at how anxious you are to do them.
Stick With It
You’ve probably heard that it takes 21 days to form a new habit. The Huffington Post says that isn’t actually an accurate number. According to “Psycho-Cybernetics,” the original publication where that number appeared, it takes at least 21 days, but can take up to eight months or maybe even more to ingrain a new habit. The point here is that you need to stick with exercise and healthy food choices if you want to be fit and healthy. Yes, there will be days when you just don’t feel like it and, yes, there will be times when your strength, weight loss, or both plateaus. MyFitnessPal points out that one of the habits of healthy people is that they continue with their fitness routine no matter what. They embrace the challenge and recognize tough-going as an opportunity to switch up their workout routine or try different types of healthy cuisine. There won’t be a time when you’ve “made it,” but that shouldn’t discourage you. Welcome the opportunities for change and celebrate every victory no matter how big or small–and keep on going.