By Mogan Shapiro
With the start of the New Year, many of us have made resolutions to improve our health and fitness. While having specific health and fitness goals in mind is excellent, people often go to extremes to accomplish these goals. They try the newest fad diet or workout trend and often end up exhausting both their mental and physical energy. This usually leads to either quitting altogether or reaching these goals and being unable to maintain them, ultimately resulting in burnout, failure, or injury. Because of this, I propose you ditch the extreme unrealistic goals and aim to change your lifestyle.
When you start to view health and fitness as a lifestyle rather than a part-time hobby or 30-day challenge, you develop behaviors that will improve many areas of your life. Living a healthy lifestyle can inspire creativity and teach you discipline, adaptability, and balance. This will not only leave you looking and feeling better, but you will show up as a better version of yourself for the people in your life that truly matter.
IT’S MORE THAN AESTHETICS
Health and fitness are about more than the way you look, the food you eat, or the weight you lift at the gym. They’re about:
- the way you feel.
- your quality of life.
- the focus you have at work.
- your ability to move.
- your psychological state.
When you’re truly healthy, you are in a better mood and can physically do more. You can do things like walking your dog, going hiking, or paddleboarding. Not being able to do these things can drastically impact your experiences and limit your quality of life.
SETTING AN EXAMPLE
When you choose to live a healthy lifestyle, you not only do yourself a favor, but you set an excellent example for all of those around you. Your friends, family, and children are impacted by the healthy choices you make and will often feel inspired to make a change in their own lives.
The result of this is better relationships, lower risk of disease, and an overall healthier and happier world. By simply making healthier choices, you can have a rippling impact on all of those around you. Be the person to start the change.
YOU LEARN EXACT BEHAVIOR CHANGE
I find that “diets” or “workout challenges” only last so long. It is unrealistic to be going at 100 MPH all the time. We are all human. Life happens, stress comes and goes, and schedules can get thrown off. When we choose to live a healthy lifestyle, we learn to accept these things and ADAPT.
You learn to enjoy life when you are on vacation and away from your gym and kitchen because you have developed the habits and skills to live a healthy lifestyle no matter where you are. By always practicing moderation and balance, you allow yourself to indulge without going overboard. If you don’t have access to a gym one week, you get in the habit of traveling with your resistant bands, creating a bodyweight circuit, or using nearby benches and stairs to get a workout in. You learn to adapt instead of self-destructing when your routine gets thrown off.
Sure, people get results with extreme dieting or partaking in workout challenges. However, the percentage of people who follow those plans exactly is tiny. These challenges are often completed in a short period and accompanied by strict guidelines of success and failure, both of which are not good for your physical or emotional health.
When you set extreme goals, you’re more likely to feel defeated if you “mess up.” When the expectations aren’t as intense, you are more likely to stay consistent and enjoy your journey. You don’t put that pressure on yourself to be perfect. If you eat something “bad” or skip a workout, you wake up the next day and get right back on track because now it’s just part of your lifestyle. This approach is much more attainable and leads to more consistency long term.
Here are a few tips to start making health and fitness a lifestyle today:
1. FIND EXERCISE YOU ENJOY
This is important when it comes to staying consistent with your workouts. If you are continually doing exercises you don’t enjoy, and they leave you feeling drained physically and emotionally, it’s only going to last so long. You are better off finding exercises that make you feel good, and you can stick to long term, even if it’s not the most intense. Consistent low-intensity exercise will always triumph inconsistent high-intensity exercise.
2. BE PATIENT WHEN IT COMES TO REACHING YOUR PHYSICAL GOALS
Remember, results take time. Be easy on yourself. Nothing good comes easy. Learn to fall in love with the process and the person you become throughout the journey.
3. DON’T GIVE UP THE FOODS YOU LOVE
I’m a firm believer in never giving up the foods you love. Find a way to make your favorite foods healthier. If pizza is your favorite food, don’t give it up. This will leave you feeling deprived. Get creative and use clean ingredients to make your healthy version.
4. DON’T COMPETE WITH ANYONE
This is your life and your journey. No two people are the same, so you should never compare yourself to others. As long as you wake up every day and try to be better than you were yesterday, you are on the right track.
5. TRY NEW THINGS
Step out of your comfort zone. Try a new fitness class with a friend and explore different foods. Grocery shopping based on what’s in season is an easy way to begin experimenting with different foods and exposing yourself to a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. Stepping out of your comfort zone and switching things up will keep things interesting and help you stay motivated and inspired to make this way of living a permanent lifestyle.