We have all seen that person who decides to "get fit", so they join a gym, join a bootcamp 2 mornings a week, get a personal trainer, change their whole diet, start off with a bang, super committed, training 7 days a week, eating "perfectly" and not taking a single day off, only to fall back into old habits after only a few months of training.
Back in the day when I would get an extremely gung-ho client my first reaction would be, "wow this person is going to kill it. I bet they will get amazing results!" And while many of them did get incredible results to begin with, they were unable to sustain their results in the long-term and ended up slipping back into bad habits.
Here is the thing: Your diet and training program needs to be manageable for your lifestyle from the start if you want to stay consistent. If you can't sustain your "healthy lifestyle" in the long term, then it’s not a healthy lifestyle.
Here are my best tips for staying on the health and fitness wagon!
The people who maintain their fitness/health/weight loss results for good are the ones who make improvements without trying to alter every aspect of their lives. They train themselves to live differently by making gradual changes.
Abruptly going from not training at all to working out several hours a day and changing from a free-for-all diet to an extremely restrictive diet that you have no control over aren't sustainable ways of getting in shape.
Instead, when it comes to making any kind of lifestyle change, it’s best to start small and build up from there. Start by choosing one practice to follow. It could be drinking an extra 2 litres of water each day. Sleeping 8 hours each night. Or exercising 30 minutes 3 times a week. Try changing one thing and following it through for 2 weeks before adding any new habits.
Make sure your new goal or habit is clear and measurable. For example, committing to “eat more veggies” isn’t that useful. Be specific. Try something like “Eat 1 fist-sized portion of vegetables with each meal” instead. That way it takes the vagueness out of it, and at the end of each day you can know 100% whether you did it or not.
Connect with people who are passionate about fitness. Find a community. I am a HUGE proponent of this. If you’re constantly surrounded by people who are not aware of or supportive of your goals, then you’ll struggle with making it a part of your lifestyle. Community is so important. In person is ideal, but if that is not a possibility you can find plenty of online communities to become a part of. Trust me when I say this will make a huge difference in your long-term success.
Yes I am using the big “M” word. Pay some MONEY in advance for personal training, diet coaching or classes etc. Putting monetary value on training and paying up front for an amount of time or a number of sessions will make it that much more serious and important to you. You will be more likely to stick to your sessions and show up if you have already paid for them. You’ll also have extra accountability in the form of someone else helping you and checking on you. But the key here is paying for it in advance. It’s very easy to cancel/postpone when you haven’t paid for something yet.
Even though that support group, or personal trainer can be extremely helpful for motivation and accountability, at the same time, your trainer or coach should not play the role of a babysitter. Those who are successful know how to take personal responsibility and avoid situations that aren’t good for them. Everyone knows what their own pitfalls and triggers are (these things are very individual) and it is up to you to come up with your own strategies.
Learn how to prepare meals ahead of time. Learn which foods to take a break from that bring on the tendency to binge. Learn to schedule exercise into your day & bring your workout clothes and shoes to work with you so you don’t need to go home first. Master these changes little by little and build routines into your life, until it becomes second nature.
Self-regulation and autonomy is the ultimate accomplishment when it comes to fitness and maintaining results; knowing how to live, train, and eat on your own for the best results. Those who maintain results in the long-term and keep making progress aren't the people who continually follow orders. They're the people who, after receiving guidance and doing their own research, look after themselves and learn what works and what doesn't work for them personally.
You DO NOT have to go to extremes to transform your body. There does not need to be emotional outbursts, puking, getting injured, extreme hunger, extreme soreness all the time and blood and tears. Exercising is not a punishment. AS IF you would want to keep showing up day after day if you think of exercise in that way. I certainly wouldn't! Yes, you’ll have to put in effort to get results and it’s not always going to be easy, but exercise doesn’t have to be extremely brutal to be effective. Changing your attitude is the first step. Stop attaching negative thoughts and emotions to the word “exercise” and you’ll be more likely to stick to it and start to enjoy the process.
This goes hand in hand with the point above. Focus on the effort not the outcome. The effort is what you do. The outcome is the byproduct of what you do. So if you start to love the process of getting fit, then the results will come. No doubt about it. But if you’re so fixated on the outcome (a lower number on the scale, for example), then you’ll never learn to love the process, and you’ll never be consistent.
Shift your perspective and make your main goal the quality and quantity of effort you put into working out and eating well. Because once those are in place the results will follow. Become a person who enjoys the process. Then health and fitness will go from obligation to passion. This is not possible to do if all you can think about is reaching a number on a scale.
Yes there does need to be hard work and at times it will be uncomfortable for you. You will have to get out of your comfort zone and some days you’ll just have to bite the bullet and show up. But I do not advocate an all-or-nothing approach. A sustainable approach coupled with consistency and continued progression is the name of the game. In layman's terms? Show up to your training sessions consistently, stop cancelling and making excuses, and make sure your workouts continue to challenge you. Drink lots of water, weight train regularly, include some form of cardio that gets your heart rate up and gradually start replacing obvious junk in your diet with home cooked meals, satiating protein, and more unprocessed food.
It’s not always easy, but it’s simple. Be patient, learn to love the process, and the results will follow.
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