Sticking to a diet and fitness plan can be really challenging, even with the best intentions and willpower. Between our busy lifestyles and food-centered celebrations, it’s hard to stick to a plan long term. Here are some of the ways that I stick to my fitness goals:
- Try to find something you enjoy. There are a lot of different ways to get your heart rate up and get in exercise. For me, I love running because it challenges me but also gives me much needed me-time alone from the world. But if running isn’t your thing, there are so many different options. Hiking, biking, swimming, yoga, group fitness classes, dance classes– the list goes on and on! It’s not that any of them are going to always be fun all of the time, but it’s helpful to find something you somewhat enjoy doing.
- Commit to a goal. Saying you want to get in shape is great, but its a vague statement that is difficult to stay committed to. I’ve found that having an end goal or laid out plan helps you stay on track, even on the days that it’s tough. For me, I usually have an upcoming race that I am working towards, but when I’m not racing, I use the Nike Training app that has fitness plans that you can set for a certain number of weeks. I also use this app for running plans because it’s nice to have someone else telling me what I should be doing! Perhaps a goal could be just working out X number of days in a month, or getting your body moving for X minutes each day.
- Carve out time for your fitness. In order to reach a goal, you have to set aside time to achieve it. Sometimes a workout is super low on the list of priorities, but making it a high priority is committing to yourself. Find 30 minutes to an hour and make that your time for workouts. Maybe you wake up earlier, or maybe you stay up a little later. Some days maybe all you have is 20 minutes but a 20 minute workout is better than nothing!
- Be kind to yourself. I normally plan 5-6 days of workouts each week, but there are some days when I just need a break. For runners, rest days are super important but this also applies to everyone. Rest allows your muscles to rebuild after strenuous work. I normally have one planned “rest” day a week, but I try to be flexible and take rest days when I feel that I need them or when life gets in the way. Sometimes when you get excited about a plan, you get too focused on checking boxes off and hitting every workout every day, but that’s a really good way to get injured or burnt out. Missing a day or two isn’t failing your goal, as long as you don’t end up missing the bulk of your workouts.
- Find your support system. I like to workout alone, but I have friends and other runners on social media that I lean on a lot. I tend to be really hard on myself and lean on my support system to give me advice and support me when I’m having a tough time. If you’re a social person, find people who will go to workout classes with you or do active things with you! It’s also helpful to let friends and family know about your goals so that they can support you too. When I am in the peak of training for a marathon, I sometimes have to miss out on things because weekends are for long runs and sleeping. I always feel so guilty about putting my training first, but I’m grateful to have people who understand why!
- Focus on quality, not numbers. It’s easy to get caught up in numbers like weight, calories, size, minutes of workout, or running times, but the real reason you start a fitness journey isn’t to achieve a number, and your health and happiness also isn’t defined by numbers. Do you feel stronger? Are you proud of the effort you’re putting in? Have you made progress on your original goal? It’s helpful to step back and assess the bigger picture instead of numerical measures.
- Dig deep when it is tough. Some days you don’t want to work out and you look for any reason not to. This is when you need to remember why you started, and give it a try. On the days I really dread a workout, I tell myself I only need to run or do a workout for 20 minutes. I often find that once I get started, I don’t quit at 20 minutes like I told myself. Running has taught me that I am a whole lot stronger than my mind thinks, and sometimes it’s just a matter of proving that to yourself.
- Beware of social. Although social media is great for support and inspiration, everyone has a platform to share their personal opinions or “quick fixes”, that sometimes may not be healthy or factual. There are people out there that will tell you just about anything you do or eat is bad for you. I have been told literally dozens of times by non-experts that running is “bad” for you in countless ways, yet every doctor I have ever seen praises me for it. I believe that the best diet and exercise plan is what works for you and makes you feel good.
It’s also fun to share your fitness journey, but I caution against getting too caught up in your fitness posts and feeling like you need every workout validated by strangers. Your journey needs to be about you, not about likes from strangers on the internet. It can be a good esteem booster, but I’ve seen a lot of people get too worried about their online image (myself included) and not make the best training decisions. Would you still be doing this if you didn’t post a single thing about it? It’s something I continually try to remind myself of on my personal journey. 🙂
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