I recently saw an article talking about the "10 habits of fit people." Sounds interesting, right? Well, some of them were okay, but it's a lot of the same things you hear all the time. Who needs to hear more about "making lasting lifestyle changes," or to "exercise in the morning"? Well, maybe some of us do. But it got me thinking—what are my
habits for keeping fit and staying healthy? Here's a quick list that I came up with.
Mark your calendar.
One thing that keeps me consistent is treating exercise like any other obligation on my calendar. It has a set time, day, and activity (like a class, video, or strength training at the gym) and I don't move it or let other things interfere. Some people might want a little more wiggle room, in which case you can set a block of time in your schedule (for example, take the 6:30 Spinning class, but if that doesn't work out, you'll do the 7:15 class, even though it might not be the ideal time for you).
Pack your bags.
I always keep my gym bags packed with the essentials, which makes it easier to grab my stuff as I head out the door in the morning. That way, everything I need is with me for my evening workouts. I always keep with me: Spinning shoes (my staple exercise program), my heart rate monitor and watch, my iPod, deodorant, a water bottle, and a change of clothes. Everything remains in the bag at all times (saves time in the morning and you won't lose things), and only the workout clothes rotate in and out. My co-worker packs his bags just once—bringing all of his food/snacks and workout clothes for an entire week—he keeps it all at his desk. That might be more feasible for you, or perhaps you could also keep things like this in your car.
Find something you love.
I know that I HATE running on a treadmill. If my exercise program consisted of that—in any amount—I would definitely find excuses and fail to do it all the time. I think you should find something that you enjoy doing (or at the very least, the most tolerable thing for you). When you look forward to your workout, there's nothing stopping you from doing it.
Fuel the Fire.
It takes a little planning at first, but once you're in the habit of it, this one becomes second nature. If you're going to workout regularly, you need to eat well to provide yourself with lasting energy, and to prevent yourself from feeling hungry/sick/lethargic/(you name it) during your workouts. For me, that means 3 meals and 2-3 snacks every day—and at least 8 cups of water throughout the day. I'm an evening exerciser, so I always make sure to snack at least a couple hours before I'll be working out, just to curb hunger and burst my energy. That takes a little planning, because I bring with me: breakfast, 2 snacks, and lunch to work every day. Sounds daunting, I know, but hey—it's the habit of a fit person, right? The extra 5-10 minutes this takes in the morning makes all the difference.
Pump up the volume.
Music is essential to my workouts. I pack my iPod with my favorite get-up-and-go tunes, the ones that I can't help but move to. I'd much rather exercise to some great music than watch the TV connected to the elliptical—it's easy to ignore your pace, intensity, and signals from your body when you're absorbed in a rerun of "Everybody Loves Raymond." But with some good music, you can better focus on the task at hand, while also staying motivated to move. Often I create my own workout playlists—I have about 40 of them, that vary high-intensity with lower-intensity songs, and I match my intensity with the beat of the music to keep things interesting.
One of my secrets to success is that, even on the days that I feel lazy, tired, or just like I'd rather sit on the couch than hit the gym, I promise myself I'll do just ten minutes of exercise. I figure that at the very least, 10 minutes counts for something better than nothing at all. And plus, once you do exercise for 10 minutes…most of the time you'll remember how good it feels, and you'll be likely to continue with a longer workout. But even if 10 minutes is all that you do, you can still feel accomplished and a lot less guilty for taking a day off.
Rest and recovery not only help your body to repair and rebuild from exercise, but downtime is really important for your mind. Most people are stressed out, so to find time for fitness can seem impossible. If you MUST make a choice, always choose sleep over exercise! In the long run, it will benefit your health in more ways. But if you do have the means, choose both! I'm a stickler for sleep—I go to bed at pretty much the same time every night (including weekends), and tend to rise at about the same time each morning, aiming for 8-10 hours (I need a lot of sleep). When you're tired, working out is the last thing you want to do too. So ideally, both should be a part of your plan.
Sure we all have our baggage, our commitments, our obligations. But what we all have in common is the same 24 hours in a single day. Ever wonder how some people can fit in X, Y or Z into their day when you're struggling? Usually it's not a question of time available, but how people choose to use (and don't forget, manage) their time. For me, I choose to spend my time cooking healthy meals, exercising, getting plenty of sleep—sure I might be missing the latest episode of "Grey's Anatomy" to do it, but that's the choice I make and I'm happy with that. Interestingly, most Americans watch between 1 and 4 hours of TV every single day! Could you potentially do a little less of that or say "no" to yet another committee or volunteer position in order to give yourself
some time and attention?http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/fitness_articles.asp?id=707