Want to get fit and be healthy for the rest of your life?
Great! You’ve probably seen a lot of amazing diet and exercise programs that deliver unbelievable results, guaranteed, and in just 30 or 45 days! You’ve seen the Before and After photos and heard the testimonies of people just like you who had tried all the things and nothing had ever worked…until now!
You are so ready for change. You think maybe…just maybe, this new program holds the secret to finally helping you realize your weight and performance goals. Here is some advice.
DON’T DO IT!
Don’t put your hope in a 10 day weight loss plan or a 30 day cleanse or a 90 day challenge. While these types of plans may achieve what they promised, those results are as temporary as the program itself. While it feels badass to “Go big or go home”, big and sudden lifestyle changes rarely stick.
So what can you do?
If you’re ready to commit to a lifetime of better health and fitness, then here is the not-so-secret secret. Lasting improvements are possible by relentlessly making small, permanent lifestyle changes over time.
How much time? As much time as it takes.
What kind of changes? Glad you asked. Here are a few you can try, and many of them don’t even require a gym membership or breaking a sweat.
6 Small Changes for Long Term Fitness
1: REDEFINE FITNESS.
If your idea of fitness involves a specific dress size or looks like six distinguishable abdominal bumps, it’s time for a new definition. You’re focusing on achieving certain side effects of fitness and missing the true value and beauty of “being fit”.
Start thinking of fitness as the ability to do something. Fitness should sound like “readiness”. Ready for what? Exactly. What does optimal health make you fit or ready for? Only you can answer that, but it has to do with living your best life and fulfilling your God given purpose.Lifelong fitness tip #1: Redefine 'fitness' from looking a certain way to readiness for life. Click To Tweet
So yes, living your best life may involve losing weight and getting stronger, but doing that is part of your process, not a goal in and of itself. There is no magic weight on a scale that, once you achieve it, will satisfy or fulfill you as a person. Fitness isn’t a destination, it’s a journey.
2: KNOW WHERE YOU ARE.
Don’t do anything differently. Not yet. In fact, before you change a single thing about your daily routine, start by simply logging what you’re already doing. More often than not, in our excitement for reaching our goals, we start changing all kinds of things about how we eat and exercise without ever considering if those are the right things to change.
You need to know where you’re at before you can chart a course for where you want to go. Think about that. What is the first thing you do when you look at a mall directory or map of an amusement park you’re visiting? You look for the “You Are Here” arrow. It does you no good to know where you want to go if you have no idea where you currently stand.
3: TRAIN YOUR BRAIN.
Grab a note card. Write down what you intend to do and how good it will make you feel when you do it. Then write down how doing this consistently over time will improve our life. For example:
“I will go for a morning run at least 4 times a week.
After I run I feel powerful and accomplished,
less stressed and more energized and focused for my day.
If I do this consistently for 4 months,
I’ll be a much better runner and
I can start training for my big race.”
READ THIS OUT LOUD to yourself every morning. Even on the days when you’re not planning to workout. Even on the days when you have to skip a workout. What does this accomplish? You are training your brain to associate the effort of eating well and exercising with good feelings and hopeful expectations of a better future. Without breaking a sweat, you can work on overcoming the tendency to find excuses not too.
4: TACKLE ONE THING AT A TIME.
If you’ve been good at keeping your log, you should be able to identify a few good things you can do differently or do better. Rank them, putting the easiest/most simple things at the top of the list.
The trick is to improve one thing at a time, starting with the easiest thing. Maybe that means going without sugar in your morning coffee or adding 5 minutes of core work after your run. Whatever it is, focus on that and don’t worry about changing anything else for a while. Just ace that one thing until it becomes natural and automatic.
5: DRINK MORE WATER.
Fact is most of us are chronically dehydrated. If there is one small thing you can try to tackle, learn to enjoy drinking plain ‘ol water and drink enough of it daily for your bodyweight. General rule of thumb is half of your weight in ounces (so if you’re 140 lbs, drink 70 ounces daily).
There are many things your body will automatically start to improve if you can keep it properly hydrated. Finish a glass of water at every meal before you have any other drink. Hate water? Consider adding a zero-sugar flavor, like Nuun All Day, to your water.
6: STOP BEFORE YOU’RE WRECKED.
If you’re just starting out with an exercise routine, the best thing you can do is to STOP while you’re still having a good time. That way you leave your workout feeling good and increase your chances of being excited to come back for more the next day.
If you do too much too fast and end up feeling sick and defeated at the end of your workout…your body and mind will instinctively try to preserve itself and convince you that you don’t want to do that again anytime soon. If you think you have to feel slayed at the end of every workout, you’re only reinforcing a negative association with the effort of working out.
BONUS #7: IMPROVE YOUR VOCABULARY.
Here is one more tip, because typically we need to change the way we think if we want to change the way we act. Listen to how you speak to yourself and about yourself. Are there any negative or misleading words or phrases you can swap with something more accurate and healthy? Here are some common ones to reconsider.
- Cankles. Saddle bags. Chicken wings. It may seem harmless to use terms of embarrassment like these but they prevent us from embracing what may be a normal attribute for our body type or stage of life.
- Toned. Long muscles. Detox. These are examples of marketing buzzwords. Muscles do not “tone” or get more firm, nor can you train them to get longer, and there is no “detox” plan that can rescue you from being a chronically poor eater.
- New, when used in the context of “New Year, New You”, just don’t. In our culture everything is disposable and the term “new” is strongly associated with complete and total replacement. You can’t talk about yourself like that. You have value, you are not disposable or replaceable.You can be a better you, but there can be no such thing as a new you.
- I can’t. I will never. I’m too ____ for that. Yes, there are some can’ts and nevers that are accurate (e.g. see through walls), but we also use these words when we really mean “I feel unable to…”, “I don’t have the desire to…”, or “That’s out of my comfort zone.” Speaking in cant’s and nevers makes it impossible to problem solve or consider new possibilities.
Remember these small changes as you pursue your fitness goals. Our tendency to seek out the path of least resistance (i.e. return to our default eating habits and activity level) is so, so strong. The bigger the change you try to force on your life, the harder it will be to make it permanent. Try some of these small changes. They are so easy to do they sound dumb and are often overlooked. Don’t let their lack of WOW Factor fool you. Acing these simple things will do a lot more for your long term fitness than any time-limited challenge or unsustainable diet trend.