Today I wanted to share a few of my thoughts on things I’ve found helpful when it comes to keeping my fitness goals on track. This post is a little ironic, considering I haven’t worked out consistently in the last three weeks! Honestly, when it comes to living a healthy life, it took a long time for me to realize the two things that matter the most is consistency and balance, so a lot of the tips below center around these two things. They are things I’ve discovered throughout my fitness journey, so I’ve given examples out of my own life. Regardless of where you are on your fitness journey, I think everyone could do with a reminder every once in a while!
1. Slow and steady wins the race.
Like anything else in life, balance is key. When you start off with an unbalanced diet or no workout regime, you can’t go straight to working out 7 days a week and cutting out all sugar from your diet. It’s just too extreme and for a lot of people, it can set them up for failure. In terms of my own experience, I’ve talked about trying to cut out all junk food from my diet and eating super clean. I can last for about a week or two on this restricted diet before I end up binging and eating half of a family-sized bag of chips in one go, which basically defeats all of the healthy eating. I’ve made this mistake, again and again. What I eventually learned is to pace myself, so I have a 90/10 rule: I eat healthy for 90% of the day, but I’ll let myself have a little treat at the end of every day (a few chips, a cookie, or a small piece of chocolate, etc.) to tide myself over so that I won’t fall off the deep end. The same goes for working out – if you go at it hard seven days a week for months on end, you’ll eventually burn yourself out.
2. Accept that it’s a lifestyle
In a way, this kind of goes with my first tip of slow and steady wins the race. Sure, you might be able to go a few weeks cutting 100% of your favourite “bad” foods out of your diet, or you might be have enough motivation to be able to work out 7 days a week for a few weeks. However, are you sure you’re able to not eat junk food for the rest of your life? Are you sure you can uphold a 7 day/week workout schedule for the rest of your life? I know I couldn’t do either of these things in the long term. Making sure your workout schedule and your diet will be able to fit into your lifestyle helps to ensure your goals are reachable. I’ve already talked about pacing my snacks using a 90/10 rule above. In terms of working out, I know that I only have time to work out 4-5 days a week, so I set the reasonable expectation that I will get 4 or 5 workouts done in a week. If I can do six, that’s great. If I can’t, I won’t beat myself up for it.
3. Do Something You Love
This one mainly applies to your workout regime. Do you dread lifting weights but love running? Then run! Do you hate the elliptical but love swimming? Then swim! I’ve realized that having a fitness regime you enjoy is critical to your success. If you force yourself to do something you hate, you’ll eventually stop doing it. For me, I absolutely hate running, so you’ll never find me on the treadmill or on a jog outdoors, because I know I’ll just quit after a while. I’ve discovered that I enjoy the challenge of lifting weights, and that I like doing HIIT (high-intensity interval training) for my cardio because it’s short and sweet, so I stick to these two things in my fitness regime because I’ll be able to continue doing them without hating my life.
4. Cut Yourself Some Slack
At one point or another, we all lose sight of our fitness goals, and start binge-eating the cheesecake in the fridge at midnight (or is that just me? Oops, okay). OR, we get too busy to cook for ourselves, or too busy with work/social life to go to the gym, and eventually we fall back into our old habits. I know that I’ve been there. Realize that in the long term, one day/week/month of falling off the wagon is only a blip in your lifelong journey to health – what matters is the big picture, not the small moments you went off-track. Pick yourself off your feet again and continue on working out and/or having a balanced diet to achieve that strong, healthy body. It might be easy to say, “I’ve eaten bad for six months and haven’t worked out at all, so I might as well just quit altogether”, but just remember that this isn’t just a phase in your life, it’s a long-term way of living. Like I said at the very beginning of this post, I haven’t really had a regular workout schedule these past few weeks, but I’m trying to continue eating healthy as best I can, and I know I’ll try to fit in time to work out when I’m able.
5. Celebrate the Victories
I know people can get discouraged when they don’t meet their goals, such as “I don’t look the way I want to yet”, or “I’m not losing as much weight as I want”. At this point, some people throw in the towel, because living a healthy lifestyle is taking more effort than it’s worth. I’ve definitely been there. However, think of the improvements you’ve seen in yourself since you started your journey, even if they aren’t a part of your goals. Are you stronger? Can you run for longer than you used to? Although these may not be your goals, they are all achievements and should be celebrated!
What do you do to keep yourself on track when it comes to fitness?