Most people will start thinking about improving their fitness levels either as a part of a New Year’s resolution or when they realize summer is fast approaching and they want to look good in a bathing suit.
The trouble with decisions made this way is that they tend to be short-lived. If you are committing to your fitness journey only because you either think you should (but don’t really want to) or think you don’t look good enough, chances are you won’t have the drive and mindset required to see it through.
Here’s what you can do not only to start a fitness journey but to keep it a part of your everyday life in the long term.
Stop Waiting for a Better Time
If you’re one of those people who is constantly waiting for Monday to change something about their life, you’ve probably already put working out off several times.
This tendency to procrastinate doesn’t mean you are lazy. It just means you find the task ahead unpleasant, and your mind convinces you to put it off in order to keep you “safe.”
The best way to start your fitness journey is just to start. Right now. Don’t wait for better weather, more sleep, or the perfect day to work out. Just start.
Do It When You Least Want To
In more practical terms, in order to get started with working out and eating better, let go of your need to nail every workout and every meal. There will be days when you don’t want to get off the couch. And there will be days when you eat more ice cream than you think you should have.
Instead of letting this disrupt your journey, just keep going. Don’t skip a workout because you feel you can’t do your required number of reps. Do what you can on that day. If it’s replacing weights with cardio, do that. If it’s lifting smaller weights, do that.
And stop putting yourself down for enjoying an “unhealthy” meal once in a while. It won’t impact your results, so let yourself indulge when you feel like it. If it makes you happy, it will help you achieve your goals.
Set a Goal for Yourself
Speaking of goals, make sure you set yourself a clear, realistic goal. Don’t just say I want to look better. Say I want to have more defined abs and shoulders.
Also, try to add to the mix a goal that’s not physique-related. While it’s perfectly okay to want to look fitter, if you also throw in a goal like “lift my own bodyweight in a deadlift,” you’ll have something specific to work towards and be able to measure success more easily.
Choose the Right Activities
In order for a lifestyle to be sustainable, you need to enjoy it every day. Don’t look at fitness models on social media and how they eat and work out. Their lifestyle is their job, while you have your own eight hours to tackle before you even start to think about fitness.
Choose something you truly like doing. If you hate lifting weights, working out will become an unpleasant part of your day, and you won’t at all be likely to stick to it. But if you get to do something you actually enjoy, working out will become something you look forward to.
You can dance, walk, play a sport, ride a bike, try martial arts, etc. There are endless opportunities to move your body. Try out as many as you want until you land on the ones you like best and that accommodate your goals.
Don’t Change Your Diet
It may sound counterintuitive, but in order for your fitness journey to stick, it shouldn’t consist of going on a diet or even changing how you eat.
Start by incorporating movement into your day. Don’t change a thing about your meals. About three months in, when working out has become a part of your daily habits, think about what you are eating.
Again, you don’t have to give up any of the foods you love. The only thing you need to do is eat the right amount of calories based on your goals. If you want to lose a bit of weight, eat roughly 300 calories less than you spend. It won’t get you the fast results most fitness plans promise, but it will ensure you follow through in the long term.
Don’t think of foods as good or bad. Make sure you are getting enough nutrients and enough protein to support your goals, and you’ll be on the right track.
Find the Right Aids
Once you get into a workout routine you love and start managing your diet, you might want to add some supplements to fuel your efforts. A good supplement before working out will give you the energy you need for your exercise, and it can help you push yourself over your usual limits.
You can also consider upping your protein intake with a supplement or adding in the vitamins and minerals you don’t get enough of through your diet. Magnesium and zinc are the ones most people lack, but make sure to consult your doctor before you take anything.
Explore the best ways to relax as well. A massage or a steam session will help your muscles recover, as will cold showers or ice baths. Make sure to consult a professional to ensure you stay safe and don’t accidentally cause any muscle damage.
The best way to start your fitness journey is to take small steps and see them through. Don’t try to change everything about your life overnight. You won’t be able to sustain all the changes, and you will only end up disappointing yourself.
Show up every day, even if you can’t complete the full workout. Aim to eat nutritious foods as often as you can and move your body every day, even if it’s just a walk. The results won’t fail to show themselves, and you’ll get that much more invested in your new habits.