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    COACH_NICOLE   72,921
60,000-79,999 SparkPoints

The 8 Habits of Fit People

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

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.

Just ten. 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 up. 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.

Prioritize. 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?

Member Comments About This Blog Post:
SPINNINGRACHEL 10/29/2008 9:44AM

    Nicole, thanks so much for this blog. I have been following the same mantra for myself, which the exception of the Calendar idea you provide. I think this is truly the missing link for me and I'm going to implement it. Thank you so much for such a great idea.

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THIN_FIT 9/11/2008 8:46AM

    Great entry with applicable information for our fit and healthy lifestyles. I especially like the "at least ten minutes," because like most of us, I am an all or nothing person.

It reminds me of the "diversion" tactic when we're cutting back on our calories; a very small yet powerful and effective tool.

Thanks, NIcole.

ETA: I also appreciate your comment that you are an "evening exerciser." I simply cannot work out in the morning, and I am sick of feeling guilty about my schedule and refusing to wake up at 4 am after being up to 11 or even midnight. Glad to know I am not the only one!

Comment edited on: 9/11/2008 8:45:42 AM

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SAVITADHUTTI 4/20/2008 3:13AM

  Its woderful!
Let me wait and watch the result of all that what I m trying by following the guidelines of the Sparkpeople.It seems gr8.
savita Dhutti emoticon

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GRAMMAJANET 4/6/2008 6:43PM

    Thanks for the tips. I am sure I can do without my fav. CSI Miami. Prioritizing my time is what I need to work on. Now that we are in a new week I am going to do just that for this one week and exercise more & watch TV less. I am packing my meals to take to work and eating no more then my set calorie count for each day. I don't go to a gym but will be exercising at home with my DVD's and with exercise TV. Thanks again for the tips.

Comment edited on: 4/6/2008 6:44:48 PM

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ADLINS 4/5/2008 10:51PM

    Very nicely done. I, too, take breakfast and lunch to work along with two snacks, one of which is a couple of hours before I'll be hitting the gym. I hate packing my gym bag, but you are right. Having by the door in the morning means it goes with me. I admire you on the sleep. I'm working very hard to get more sleep; it's nice to see the reason why I should get more sleep in writing yet again.

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DAWNASTHINGS 4/5/2008 6:35PM

    I have found that mixing up my exercise routine has helped me. I don't do the same thing everyday. One day I will walk, the next day I will ride my exercise bike. I have also purchased roller skates and will be working that into my exercise routine as well. This keeps my exercise fresh and exciting.

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JILLB0505 4/5/2008 5:43PM

    Thank you for the thoughts. It is always nice to get validation that I am doing the right things and taking the right steps to better health. Gets me pumped to keep working hard!

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QUEENOFLOTUS 4/5/2008 4:09PM

    It is very inspirational. Thanks.

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PIRATELOOKSAT40 4/5/2008 12:39AM

    The "Fuel the Fire" and "Just Ten" habits need to be priorities for me. Thanks for the great reminders and motivators!


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BORNEARTH13 3/18/2008 11:14PM

  i totally agree with the packing the bag goal. when i do my laundry, i just gather 8 days of workout clothing and roll it in a towel. i keep it in a basket in my car. i can just throw a roll in my work-out bag that has all of my toiletries. now i have no excuses. i always have what need to work out.

i've got to work on the music part. i do tend to get bored. i guess i should try and figure out the high and low intensity music that i own.

thanks for your blog!

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CMED1111 3/7/2008 8:00PM

  I keep my gym bag packed and ready to go. When I get done with my laundry - socks and washcloths go in for the whole week. The only thing to rotate out is gym clothes three pieces (top, bottom and a sports bra). I keep my workout journal and workout circuits in the bag along with my water bottle (it does get cleaned regularly). I don't have an excuse not to head for the gym at the appointed time. My gym routine and a change in eating habits have helped me lose over 50 lbs... working towards another 15lbs. I've never felt better. Thanks for your online videos they are inspiration for me during the day.

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DEVILPUP 3/6/2008 6:04PM

  Thanks for sharing this. (I agree that it's more helpful than what you describe about "Exercise in the morning...") This is a really good thing for me to have read since I am trying to visualize my exercise being regular once I am back to healthy-status. It's been a great springboard for a lot of positive thoughts. :)

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STAR1970 3/1/2008 12:36PM

    Thanks for the info. This is the area that i am doing great on. I go to the gym nearly everyday except the weekends. I started out doing treadmill and couldn't even make it 5 mins but now I do 60+ mins daily plus strength training.
I love to go to the gym everyday now. I love the feeling of sweating and the feeling of accomplishing something.

Thank you for all the articles you get to us. You guys are awesome.

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ANGELA_DOMINIC 2/27/2008 9:38PM

    Great Blog! You are doing great, keep it up!

I keep the exercise equipment, a box filled with regular & vitamin "flavored" waters, and different bag of dry clothes .. in case I walk in the rain .. in the trunk of my car.
The two cup holders always have ready to drink water (for times stuck in traffic .. and bored), and small exercise-sweat towel in passenger seat (to remind me that the club "IS" on my way home.)

All this stuff does not mean I go all the time, it means when I miss the club .. I feel guilty and do some housework that night (to make up for it).

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MARIAF58 2/26/2008 7:42PM

  That's what I call a GREAT BLOG! It's motivating, admirable, and as I have found out since last year May, doable. I retired in July and since then have changed my whole life style around. As soon as I get up I can't wait to do my sports, some in the house, some in a athletic club. I do that 6 times a week, with Sundays off, by the time lunch comes around I am ready for some healthy food and I FEEL SO GOOD! I so agree on the way-too-long TV sessions, I wish I could cut down on that, my next goal for sure.
The result of my life style change shows in 2-3 sizes down in my cloth, I am in great shape and look much younger than my almost 50 years.

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SHOP101 2/26/2008 11:51AM

  wow this blog was great! I have gone through a complete lifestyle change this year and EVERY single one of the points you made was something I have learned! It sounds like my lifestyle is A LOT like yours! To other readers, I really encourage you to take in this information. If anything, work at applying one of these habits right now, and then work up to managing the rest at your own pace. It takes some time to adapt to this lifestyle but it is so worth it! I look and feel so much better now than I ever have!
I love this blog! You made it so easy to read and understand!

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PEARLJGURL 2/25/2008 6:46PM

    GREAT BLOG! You made me feel more normal about some of my habits...lately I have not been feeling rested and have therefore skipped my early morning workouts in favor of sleep. I feel less guilty about that now! :) THANKS

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RPARKER10 2/25/2008 12:55PM

  Thanks for the advice... I hired a personal trainer to help whip me into shape, which I still think is a good idea, but my eating habits are terrible and I need to go to the gym more. These where some good tips to help me get in the gym more than just on the days I'm meeting with a trainer

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WW25LBS 2/25/2008 8:07AM

    Great Ideas. I've fallen off the routine lately of working out on a regular basis and these ideas are going to help me climb back on!

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TOOFAT081 2/25/2008 1:40AM

    I get plenty of rest. I'm working on my eating. The problem is I need to prioritize my days better to be able to get in those workouts.

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WHITTY11 2/24/2008 5:01PM

  Everything you said I already know, but for whatever reason have not put it into practice. But today sometime just clicked for me. I am going to start by managing my time better by prioritizing my life.

Comment edited on: 2/24/2008 5:01:22 PM

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JAYDA0710 2/24/2008 1:56PM

    Awesome! These are 8 very excellent tips. I think the most important is finding something you love. For me I love to run(hate the treadmill). I love running outdoors and and in different places. My town has several parks that have trails for runners and in the winter my gym has an indoor track. When I get done running I feel as though I could conquer the world!! Everyone should find something that makes them feel that great afterwards.

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LUCKYP 2/24/2008 2:20AM

  I can relate to all of these things! For me, music is a huge motivating factor .... and now that I am in the swing of exercising daily I find it heaps easier!

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KHATITI 2/23/2008 10:06AM

    Yes I agree simple but effective, I do some of already too. The great thing is that it's your choice if you want to live a healthy life or not. So step up to the plate and just do it. Especially the bit about time - we all have the same 24 hours to make the best of ourselves. Thanks I enjoyed reading this.

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ALYMOR 2/23/2008 12:56AM

  I enjoyed this article. I do like to exercise first thing in the morning.
I tell myself sometimes I am only going to do thirty minutes on the treadmill but, I end up doing forty-five minutes and feel so good
after. Last week I was sick so I didn't exercise - so thanks alot for the encouragement to get going tomorrow.

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DCFANGIRL 2/22/2008 6:47PM

    Oh wow this is awesome. I already do some of these things without even noticing. =D

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AMORA55555 2/22/2008 3:24PM

    Thanks! This is handy!

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NANAGRACE3 2/22/2008 3:02PM

  Thanks for the suggestions....I'm going to print these out and adapt for myself and make a list of my new habits for a fit me....the help I've been getting from Sparkpeople has really made a difference!

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GEOTOOL 2/22/2008 1:41PM

    ggreat advice, i have been trying real hard to be on a regimen, plus have fun doing it

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CDNMIKE 2/22/2008 12:35PM

  These are great tips, many of which I have been following. Another tip is to manage your spare time as you are manage your work time with both structured (or routine) and unstructured activities, of which fitness activities would be part of your routine activities along with eating, washing and attending to other personal hygiene activities. Lastly, apart from having a gym bag always ready to go, all day long I wear gym clothing, mostly breathable and highly comfortable second skin apparel, some of them being most fashionable and good looking, leaving no excuses at all not to do my daily fit activities, consisting of cardio, weight bearing exercises, aerobic, pumping and stretching classes as well as spinning. The attention and compliments I get from doing so is another boost to continue being fit. Of course, junk food is out of the question, and I do not miss it. I feel great doing this which is now part of my way of living and of enjoying doing so.

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MARYXJANE 2/22/2008 4:27AM

    I'm just coming off 2 days of being sick - not eating much and sleeping half the day - and these tips are a great motivator to get back in the swing now that I'm starting to feel better!

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MERC92 2/21/2008 8:51PM

    This is a great list - I'm definately going to try to "Just 10"! What a great way to get yourself motivated.

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GMSIP2000 2/21/2008 7:47PM

  Great article. I think we just forget what is good for us. Thanks for the great list of reminders. =-)

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FINFRY 2/21/2008 7:34PM

    Thanks for taking the time to post these great tips. It really helps me to have reminders when I get off track.


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WRITEMANN1 2/21/2008 2:28PM

    I'm printing these to take with me! Although they do seem to have a 'chick feel' to them, they're good.


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FITANDFABULOUS! 2/21/2008 12:33PM

    This was very helpful, thank you for your backs one of my life beliefs that people make time for the things they want to make time for... Ido believe this, I just have to put it into practice when it comes to exercise :) It is so easy to just blow off...I like the 10 minute is very true, once you get can't help not surpassing the 10 minute mark, can you!!
Be Happy,

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MIKOLA 2/21/2008 10:45AM

    Great advice - I am gonna try the calendar thing from now on.

Re: your last tip
I'm with you! I always say that everyone has the same amount of time, so it's never a matter of not HAVING time for things, it's a matter of not MAKING time for things.

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LATOYA88 2/21/2008 9:00AM

    Those are some great tips. I will definitely put some of it into practice.

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SUZ1905OTT 2/21/2008 7:49AM

    I do all of those things now that I am on the SP system!
It is great to know that I am on the track to success. Thank you for pointing out what might be considered the obvious, but who ever really thinks about the obvious, so it gets buried and under used. You brought it out into the open and gave it the importance that it deserves.

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JENNCHESS 2/21/2008 5:05AM

    Great Advice! I feel very inspired and plan on implementing most of these. Thanks

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SHONALEE1 2/20/2008 11:38PM

  Great tips...I am going to try them all.

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PAULALALALA 2/20/2008 10:22PM

    Wow! Coach Nicole--you have a huge fan club! and I'm a new member...LOL. Every one of your points rings true, and I've found myself doing them to maintain the everyday fitness moments that I've found to be essential to my weight maintenance. I can so identify with the TV thing. Sometimes I feel so out of it when my friends and co-workers are discussing details of the latest reality show or deal or no deal...whatever. But as I'm an evening exerciser also, I'm just getting a lot more pleasure out of my scheduled workouts at the Y.

BUT, the Pump Up the Volume is the one I felt motivated to comment on. This is so true! I absolutely cannot imagine getting a good workout on the elliptical watching the cable news over and over again. Or even a show. I have to have the music for it and it has to have the right beat. I've got a lot of spinning CD's that i've compiled and also some from Mad Dogg that I've found work great for the elliptical, also. And as spinning is my cardio of choice, we pretty much always have great music to match the beat and workout to.

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FITNESSHAPPENS 2/20/2008 10:12PM

  An added benefit of working out at the gym around the same time every day is getting to know others. There are a number of us that work out early in the morning. We have gotten to know each other and now we let the others know if we are not going to be there for a day or two...we expect each other to be there otherwise...which makes getting up and going a little easier on those mornings when it is still dark and cold and you would really rather stay under the covers!

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NAJN_ARTE 2/20/2008 10:02PM

  I totally have to try all of them. Especially, I like the 10-minute idea because I tend to think that if I don't have at least two hours to spare, it's not worth it to head to the gym, but once I tried doing 5 minutes per day, and I realized that I felt better. 10 minutes should be even better than 5.

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CIGNO50 2/20/2008 8:36PM

  thank you so much for your tips. i'll be using most of them.

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JAYNE51 2/20/2008 8:30PM

    Coach Nicole
Thank you for your tips, a lot of them I do and some are things to work on to become more fit for me. Reading other peoples work outs and fitness ideas is inspiring

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NICKYSHOY 2/20/2008 7:27PM

    Thank You so much these tips were very helpful to me.

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SHARON632 2/20/2008 7:14PM

    These are really great tips for organized exercise. I especially like the idea of having your exercise bag packed with everything you need and keeping it packed at all times to facilitate getting in your exercise. I also like the idea of actually scheduling your exercise on the calendar, setting it up like an appointment. Thanks!

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DAWNER54 2/20/2008 6:26PM

    awesome blog!!

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