We’ve all heard it before. Exercise and a good diet are important when it comes to staying fit. While our health should always be a priority, many people are still unmotivated when it gets down to it. For some, the word diet means giving up your favorite foods and replacing them with nothing but salads. Likewise, exercise means grueling, physical activity every day for hours to some people. Well, I’m here to tell you some good news. Living a healthy lifestyle doesn’t mean you have to be extreme. No, you don’t have to give up all of your favorite foods. You also don’t have to turn into the Incredible Hulk and lift 100 tons every time you exercise.
As I began my journey towards a healthy lifestyle, the biggest issue for me was that it had been years since I worked out. I didn’t want to let that be the sole reason to stop me, so I tried (and failed) multiple times to get into the exercise game and living a healthy lifestyle before realizing a few things:
1. Motivation is important, but developing self-discipline is essential.
Motivation is great and all, but it just won’t always have your back like discipline will. If you think about it, motivation is like the sidekick to discipline. There will be days where your motivation ghosts you, and you all you want to do is stay in bed all day. Discipline is what will save the day and give you the drive to do it anyway.
2. Finding inspiration is a must.
You need more reason to pursue your goal than simply, “I have to.” Look for inspirational quotes, find some role models, watch some interviews of people with similar backgrounds to you, whatever it takes to give you meaning behind your actions. There WILL be times when you just don’t want to do anything. That’s normal, but it doesn’t get you where you want to be. Everyone needs a little push every once and a while.
3. Your mindset can make or break you.
Having a good attitude about things helps make the process easier. Think about mood when you get up to do something just because you have to, like work or school. Are you bright and chipper first thing in the morning, or do you slowly get up and milk every second you can before getting ready? Approaching things with a positive attitude will make things like working out feel more enjoyable and like less of a chore.
4. Informing yourself creates a reason to do things.
Knowledge is power. You don’t want to be wasting your time and effort in the beginning only to find out that you’ve been doing it all wrong. (You can also harm yourself if you don’t take the time to learn how to properly do things!) Knowing why something works will give reason to your actions, rather than you just doing it “because you have to.”
5. You can still eat your favorite foods.
Yup, you read that right. Here’s the catch: It’s all about moderation and proportions. What you eat and how much you eat depends on what it is and what you are looking to achieve. This ties in with informing yourself. Different goals create different demands. Based on your goals, take some time to look at what you should eat, and what foods can replace what you shouldn’t eat. Don’t forget that living a healthy lifestyle doesn’t mean you have to lose out on flavor. There’s tons of delicious recipe for every diet there is!
6. Keeping track of your progress could be your number one motivator.
One of the biggest motivation killers is the fact that working out does not give you instant results. Sure, you could feel like you’re going to be sore for days because you worked so hard, but you still can’t get a six-pack pack overnight. Some people might feel uncomfortable tracking their progress because they aren’t happy about where they’re starting, but think about this: your stats are proof that you are making progress. The numbers and pictures don’t lie. This was one of my main motivators during my PIIT28 journey because I had proof that change was happening.
There are many ways to keep track of your progress. You can use an app, a paper journal, take pictures, whatever fits your style. I use the My Fitness Pal app to track my food and exercise, and I write down my measurements in a journal at the end of each month.
7. Your goal needs to be specific.
You might have trouble reaching your goals because they are too broad. “I want to lose weight,” is a common goal, but if you think about it, it does you no good. How much do you want to lose? Half a pound? Twenty pounds? Technically, both results meet the goal of losing weight, but losing half a pound isn’t what most people have in mind when it comes to weight loss. When you make your goal specific, you can approach it more methodically.
8. Living a healthy lifestyle is one you define yourself.
When it comes down to it, we have to remember we are unique individuals. A football player probably isn’t as interested in becoming as flexible as a ballerina. A dancer might not be too interested in building as much muscle as an Olympic power lifter. Your goals define your path. It isn’t about living the “right” lifestyle as it is living your own. Find your path, figure out where you want to be, and the rest will start to make sense. Good luck!