Staying on track with a healthy diet and exercise is challenging. It’s hard to change bad habits. It’s also difficult to learn how to adopt good ones, especially when it comes to the way we take care of ourselves and how we treat our bodies. As I navigate my way through this health journey, I wanted to share with you some things that I am learning about consistency and the tools I keep in my tool belt to help keep me on track.
Earlier this year and especially the past few months I did REALLY good. I mean, so good. I worked out almost every single day, I ate the right things and I felt great. Then in June I did alright, a lot of life was happening so I found myself getting off track. But within those moments of distraction, there was also this underlying desire to do better. I knew that I wasn’t making the best choices but I also wasn’t quite sure how to snap out of it. I think it took some self reflecting to realize that the tools that I was looking for I already had, I just needed a reminder. I KNOW how to do this, I HAVE the tools I need to make this a lifestyle and I’m going to share with you what those things are. I know that I needed this reminder and maybe you do too. So here are my top tips for not only embarking on a fitness journey but in making it a true lifestyle change.
- Create a Plan
Okay now I know this one seems obvious but it’s first on the list because of how important it is. You have to create a plan for yourself so you can identify how exactly you’re going to accomplish this new goal. Imagine knowing that you need to go to a new place and not having directions on how to get there. You get in the car, start the engine and then start driving. You’re going to waste a lot of time and a lot of gas and are probably going to get nowhere fast.
The same thing applies here. You have to create a plan to follow, create some guidelines on how exactly you are going to fulfill this new commitment. Here are a some questions you can ask yourself to get started:
- What types of food am I going to eat?
- Will I follow a recipe or meal plan?
- Do I have a shopping list for the new foods that I plan to eat?
- What kind of exercise will I do and how often?
- Will I need any equipment in order to do my exercises?
These are all very basic questions, but important ones! Figuring out the details of your plan will help you to execute it. Outline the steps that you intend to follow and set yourself up to be successful. Saying that you want to eat better and exercise is great, but without a plan on how you are actually going to follow through with that is just wishful thinking.
I like to use the notes on my cell phone to write my meal plans out for each week. I set a reminder to write them on Saturdays and go grocery shopping on Sundays so there is no question about what I am going to eat or when. For me, I am most likely to cave in to my cravings or make poor food choices when I’m hungry. If I’m hungry and I open the fridge and don’t know what to make I’m going to reach for a snack. And 9 times out of 10 that snack is going to be something quick and processed and so bad for me (but so good, I know!). So plan ahead, create a solid foundation for yourself to work off of.
- Hold Yourself Accountable
After you establish a plan, you have to figure out ways to help hold yourself accountable. For me, I like to log what I eat every day. This gives me a visual of the foods that I am consuming and how well I am following my healthy diet overall. I use an app called MyFitnessPal. It’s really easy to use and I like that I can create recipes within the app and can also import recipes that I find on Pinterest. This allows me to quickly log my meals and get on with my day. Also, there’s reporting available that is both encouraging and informative to help me align my meal plans with the progress that I want to see.
- Enjoy the Process
You’ve gotta learn to love the process. There’s a reason why it’s called a fitness journey and not a fitness destination. It takes time, and it’s a constant work in progress. For that reason, the journey is never really over so you’ve got to make it enjoyable. Make your choices work for you, incorporate things to make it fun and exciting.
I like to try new recipes often. When it comes to meal prep, I am not successful when I have to eat the same thing day in and day out. It just doesn’t work for me. I need variety, I need different textures and flavor palettes. I know that if I plan to eat the same thing all the time I’m going to deviate from my plan. So I keep it interesting by regularly incorporating new spices, cooking styles and recipes into my diet. Recently I started juicing again. It’s fun to try different fruit and veggie combinations and it’s so good for my body. When I get bored with that I’ll be on to the next food adventure, that’s what works for me.
The same thing applies to exercise, I have to keep it fresh. Just this week I ordered a new piece of equipment on Amazon to help work out my thighs. I switch up my workouts to prevent them from becoming boring. But maybe you like consistency. Maybe you like to master your workouts and build your muscle to become stronger. That’s great too! Figure out what you need to do to make it enjoyable and do that.
- Get Back on the Horse
Alright, now I mentioned that these are reminders to myself and this is one that I really stand behind. This is a journey and we are human beings. We are not perfect nor are we intended to be. There will be seasons of our life when we aren’t as strict on our diet or where our workouts are not as frequent as they once we’re, and that is OK – as long as we get back on the horse. Life will continue to happen. There will be interruptions, distractions and moments where other aspects of our life will take priority over our diet and exercise. While we should work to keep and maintain them as a top priority, we have to expect that there will be times when we are not able to. In those moments we have to allow ourselves the grace to face whatever it is that may be in front of us but to also have the courage and self discipline to get back on the horse as soon as we are able to. It’s all about the process, right? Plan, work, improve, misstep, learn, retry, work, fail, retry, succeed, learn, misstep, retry, and on and on. Just make sure that you are always making it a point to try once again and to keep that journey going. Retry, learn, and be patient with yourself.
I am still learning and am very early on in my fitness journey, but I’m okay with that. I have learned so much about myself and about this new lifestyle already and am so excited for what else is in store. So be gentle with yourself, establish a plan and give yourself the tools you need in order to be successful, even if they are as simple as a meaningful reminder.