If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s that developing a sustainable healthy lifestyle is not easy.
We are constantly bombarded with fad diets and miracle weight loss solutions, most of which don’t work or only bring short-term results.
I’m going to clue you into the real solution to healthy living success. I am not going to guarantee quick results or 100% satisfaction, but I will give you my word that following these guidelines will help make your health and fitness journey more manageable and enjoyable.
Step One: Decide exactly what it is you want to accomplish. We have had this preached to us since we can remember, but with good reason. Goals will get you places. It’s much easier to attain a goal of “workout 4 times a week and drink 64 ounces of water each day,” than it is to attain a goal of “workout more and drink more water.” Discover what you’re really aiming for and write it down.
Step Two: Break it down. Set shorter, realistic goals as stepping stones to reach your big goal. Runners don’t train for a marathon by running one their first day. They start small and build their stamina and longevity over a period of time. The same applies with other goals. Want to lose 15 pounds? Make your milestones every three or five pounds. The key is to keep yourself motivated over a long period of time, which is much easier when you can check off your smaller successes on the quest to attain your big goal.
Step Three: Realize that mistakes will happen. In my opinion, the number one killer of fitness and healthy lifestyle success is beating yourself up over mistakes. Cheat days will happen. Cheat days will turn into cheat weeks. You have to allow yourself to fall off the wagon every so often in order to learn and appreciate your successes.
I started using a new fitness app a few months ago to help keep me on track with my workouts. Just a week in, I had a horrible day at work and wanted nothing more than a handful of Dove chocolates and a lazy evening to myself. So you know what? I did just that. I laid in bed with my candies and watched Netflix all evening. Did I feel guilty? Yes. But afterward I realized that I was doing well at making strides toward my goals even in the first week, and a few chocolates weren’t going to ruin my progress. I jumped back on track the next morning and continued completing all my workouts and eating better. I felt better even though I messed up.
Results won’t happen overnight and you’ll never be perfect on the first shot. Accept it and embrace it.
In the past, had that detour happened, I would have given in to my self pity and self loathing and quit right then. There is absolutely nothing productive about giving up. When I instead chose to acknowledge my weaknesses and allow myself to wander a little off the path now and then, I was much more successful. I stuck with the program I started for over two months before I felt compelled to give up, which was an incredible start for me. Very few of my fitness endeavors last that long. Which brings me to…
Step Four: If you get bored, switch it up. There is no reason you have to follow the same program or plan for the rest of your life. Boredom often leads to failure, at least for me, and seems to be that way for many others. After two and a half months of the same plan, I had no motivation to work out anymore. Conveniently, I had a vacation about the time I was getting bored, so I was able to break up my routine and relax. While I was lounging on the beach and taking in the tropical beauty that is Florida, I took the time to find another plan that sounded fun. I don’t know how long it will keep me interested, but it will keep me active for now, which is what I decided I need.
If you hate what you’re doing, you will never last.
This applies to more than just your workouts. If you can’t live without guacamole, or you need fried chicken wings at least once per week, then don’t go on a suicide mission to never eat them again. Find your priorities and make them work for you.
For me, I love eating out. I know I will want to go out with friends or grab some delicious local ice cream from around the corner every so often, so why make myself miserable by denying myself those pleasures? I decided to allow myself two outings per week and when I do go out, I make sure I eat well the rest of the meals that day. I am careful not to binge on the biggest entree I find when I’m out, but instead enjoy what sounds good until I’m full. And if I’m lucky, that means leftovers, so I can enjoy it more than once!
Ultimately, you have to find what works for you or, like many of our fellow humans, we will fall victim to our old habits.
Give yourself room for error and focus on what makes you physically and mentally happy.
At the end of the day, that’s what really matters. Be mindful of these tips and success will happen without you even noticing, because you’ll be too busy feeling great and enjoying the beauty that is life.
Have a healthy living success story or advice to share?
Let us know!