I’ve been notoriously unhealthy and even more notoriously demotivated around fitness all my life. When I was 18 I pretty much though Frappuchinos were a basic food group and I the most exercise I had done ever done was a requirement for gym class. Now that I’m a bit older, I realize that without health, you don’t have much! I’m older, wiser and more health conscious, but I’m busier than ever.
Making positive changes in your life and implementing healthy habits doesn’t have to be a headache, but it will take some headspace. Change doesn’t happen overnight, but here are some tips and tricks I’ve picked up on to make health a focus and make sure healthy habits stick!
1. Start small & systemize your healthy habits
Many health gurus out there intimidate us normals- we see them going to the gym at ungodly hours and drinking nasty looking protein shakes- not something we could ever see ourselves doing. If you want to become healthier, start small by either giving something up (like late night snacks that make you feel bloated) or adding something to you life. For me, I started making green smoothies in the morning and taking a multivitamin every day with lunch.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, start small and choose something to give up (like smoking, eating until you feel bloated or soda) and adding something to your routine (like taking vitamins, going to bed earlier or going for evening walks).
2. Find a form of fitness or activity that truly resonates with you
One of my favorite authors, Gretchen Rubin, wrote in her book, the Happiness Project, that part of being happy is to accept that certain things that we are told we should enjoy (like classical music, poetry or shopping) actually don’t make us happy and to accept that. Often, we are told in the fitness world that we should hop on the lastest craze- aerobics, running, yoga, kickboxing since “everyone else loves it!” but if it doesn’t resonate with you personally- that’s okay.
Right now, I love running but the thought of doing yoga doesn’t excite me right now and that’s okay- not every activity is right for you, and it may not be right at this moment. Just because a fitness trend has fanatics doesn’t mean it’s something you can get fanatical about- experiment until you find the right activity for you- even if it’s just going for hikes, walking the dog or swimming laps. Find something that gets you giddy and you’ll be able to overcome the lulls in enthusiasm and stick with it.
3. Discover what truly motivates you to change and create new habits
A year ago, nothing seemed to motivate me more than the thought of getting new shoes and earning my first half marathon medal. At the time, I hated running and had so many bad experiences with it, but the idea that I would be rewarded with a unique piece of shiny bling and I’d be able to shoe shop to prepare for it truly stirred my soul. Often, when times were tough or I felt discouraged, I’d look at a picture of the medal and knew I had to keep going (plus the half marathon ticket was non-refundable!) because I was just too excited by the prize to quit!
You may discover that you’re tired of feeling sick and tired, or perhaps someone in your life was touched by disease and getting fit would help you fund research or avoid a similar fate. Of course, you can be motivated by a myriad of factors- the chance to have fun, look and feel better and do good for others, but you have to get clear on your goals and they have to be heart wrenching. Simply “wanting to not be fat” or the other demeaning things we use to bully ourselves into getting fit is counterintuitive. If you’re working out to lose weight, make sure you focus on the positive and all the things you’ll gain from a fitter-self, not just the weight you’ll lose!
4. Enlist three kinds of help: a mentor, a peer & supports
If you’re going to make any life change that will provide any kind of challenge (even if it’s just to give up soda) you’re going to need three kinds of people in your life to help make it a reality. First, a mentor- even if it’s just a blogger on the internet who has done what you wish to do, they can provide the necessary guidance and layout to make sure you set yourself up for success. Secondly, you’ll need a peer- is someone you know, either a friend, coworker or family member doing what you want to do? The important part of finding a “peer” is that you have someone to confide in who is at your level- someone who isn’t an “expert” but also isn’t totally indifferent to your personal challenge. Whether you’re training for a marathon or simply trying to have salads for lunch- seek out someone who you can relate to as you transition to a healthier habit or overall lifestyle.
Finally, the support system in your life is crucial to any goal you set out for yourself. The supports in your life include anyone that could either sabotage or bolster your success- your family and good friends. These are the people that have the most influence in your daily life and have the greatest impact in making your healthy habits a sure thing. Be sure that when you set a goal, they are aware of their role in your success, even in the smallest of behaviors.
When I laced up running shoes for the first time a year ago, I had no idea how it would transform my life. At the time, I couldn’t run a mile and in my 25 years had never run more than a mile but signed up for my first race as a way to motivate myself (and justify an impulse buy of cute running clothes). Now, I have several half marathons under my belt, mud runs and countless miles.
I’ll be running in the Women’s Running Series this year- will I see you in Nashville? If you’re looking for that first race to light or reignite your spark and commit to making health a habit in your life, this could be the race for you!
Disclaimer: The Women’s Running Series is compensating me for this trip as a member of Fitfluential, but all opinions (and my reforming couch potato advice) is entirely my own.