I was browsing a few fitness forums recently, and as usual there are a lot of people new to the world of fitness asking, “What plan is best for me?” Skinny and wanting to bulk up, what kind of diet? Would deadlifts be beneficial to my body type? How do you juice? How do I train for a marathon? The questions vary based on the forum, but they all are asking the same thing: which of the many MANY fitness and diet plans are “best.” Depending on the forum or the sought after goal, the answers are unsurprisingly diverse. Atkins! Keto! Paleo! Long-distance running! Tabata! Why u no listen to me??
One reply stuck with me and has been running around my mind all day. In short, the comment advised that it isn’t so much the plan that matters as the consistency. The hardest part of adopting a lifestyle of health and fitness isn’t choosing how, it’s sticking with it. How many times has the Couch to 5k app been downloaded only to be abandoned after a week? P90X ditched after the fitness test? Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred completed through day six? Fitness and Health is as much about making permanent changes as it is about figuring out what changes work for you.
Here are five tips for how to make healthy changes more permanent:
Buy new gear! This doesn’t just apply to women who love to shop. New exercise shoes, and new workout DVD, a juicer, a racing swimsuit, it doesn’t matter WHAT it is so long as there is something that excites you to keep going on the path to health. A new pair of New Balance shoes with a sexy new yoga jacket and I’m good to go!
Switch it up! If getting up to run at 5am is not working for you, switch to the evening. Try running outside instead of on the treadmill. Download new songs for working out. Do you usually hit Zumba and aren’t feeling it today? Find out when the next Spinning class is and try that for a change. You can always go back to your regular program.
Explore! Especially regarding looking for more healthy food options, try out a lot of ideas. I like to flip through websites and try out new recipes when I start thinking about ordering pizza four nights a week. Don’t like to cook? Guides like Eat This Not That can advise you on healthy restaurant, fast food, or freezer meal options. Yes, if there were no penalties I would eat full-fat ice cream at least twice a day, but since I can’t, I have to explore new, different foods that fit my lifestyle and taste buds.
Commit with a Friend! Gym pacts with friends (or strangers,) contests, and support groups are a great way to create accountability. Sometimes all it takes to get my butt out the door is hearing that my friend has already exercised for the day.
Keep Track! When you make a good choice, keep a note of it, whether on an app or a paper calendar. I have a notebook of workouts I take to the gym so I can keep track of progress I’m making, and it really helps to push me to do one more set or add five more pounds. Recently I’ve begun notating on the calendar how many miles I ran that day, and it’s a good boost to my confidence to see how much I’ve done already. Write it down and be generous with pats on the back. Fitbit is a great option for tracking.
Whatever plan or path you choose, remember to be consistent.